Brandon Jennings is “doing his homework on big-market teams,” but winning may entice him to stay with the Bucks

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Brandon Jennings made plenty of Bucks fans nervous on Friday, thanks to a quote about his thoughts on future free agency that was reported by Chris Broussard of ESPN.com

“I am going to keep my options open, knowing that the time is coming up,” Jennings said. “I’m doing my homework on big-market teams.”

The “big-market teams” part is the most troubling phrase for Milwaukee obviously, even though in the rest of the interview, Jennings makes it pretty clear that he, like all free agents, is going to carefully weigh his options when the time comes.

“I’m not saying I won’t (sign an extension with the Bucks) and I’m not saying I will,” he said, in the very same piece. “I’m just keeping my options open.”

Harmless stuff, especially considering that the only relatively immediate action that could come regarding Jennings and free agency is his ability to sign a long-term contract extension with Milwaukee after this season. If he chooses not to, he still wouldn’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2014.

Fans will read into this what they like, but the reality is that we’re still a pretty long way from Jennings fleeing Milwaukee for a so-called big-market team. Interestingly enough, I had a conversation with Jennings about this very subject at the beginning of January, when his Bucks were in Phoenix to face the Suns. And I asked him about Milwaukee as an organization, and if he’d consider signing to stay with them for the majority of his career.

“I’m happy here,” Jennings told NBCSports.com. “Small, big market, whatever you want to call it. As long as I’m in the NBA playing and doing what I love, it’s just a blessing at the end of the day. That’s how I see it.”

As for whether star players would ever align in a city like Milwaukee as they have recently in Miami and New York, Jennings didn’t seem to think the city was the primary concern. It’s playing for a winning organization that he believes would ultimately attract the big-name free agents.

“At the end of the day you’ve got to start winning, though, to attract players and things like that,” Jennings said. “I wouldn’t say it’s more about the market, it’s more the tradition and how the team is. If you’re winning, they’ll come.”

This seems to be in line with the part in Broussard’s report where he cites sources saying that Jennings is “frustrated with the direction of the franchise.”

The good news for the Bucks is that they have some time to try to get things turned around to the point where Jennings will want to sign a long-term deal. He seems genuinely fine with playing in Milwaukee, and as long as the team can attract some additional talent to play alongside him, Jennings may very well be content to stay.

“I’m here, and I enjoy it. I enjoy the city,” he said. “At the end of the day, you’re in the NBA. So you’re doing what you love, no matter where you’re at, no matter what city you’re in.”

Once again, Klay Thompson makes it sound like he’s staying put as free agent

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Klay Thompson will be a free agent next summer, and that leads to a lot of teams drooling — the Lakers reportedly love his potential fit with LeBron James/Brandon Ingram/Lonzo Ball — and lots of fans thinking “he’ll want a bigger role on his own team” (or, a role on whatever team said fan roots for).

Good luck finding any executives around the NBA who think he’s leaving the Warriors. In part because Thompson has said he wants to stay countless times and even adding might take a discount. At Warriors media day Monday the topic came up again and Thompson was clear, once again.

Thompson is staying, the only question is the price tag. There have been rumors about Thompson signing an extension with the Warriors, but while he may want to give the team a discount that would be a RIDICULOUS discount: His max extension will be $102 million over five years, if he becomes a free agent and re-signs he can get as much as $188 million over five years. You think he’s leaving $86 million on the table?

Of course, a reporter brought up the extension idea at Thompson’s press conference, and he played it off saying that’s up to his agent (it starts around the one minute mark of the video below).

Just because there is no extension does not mean Thompson is going to leave via free agency. There is far more of a sense around the league Kevin Durant will be the first of their big players out the door, but even that may not be likely if they win it all again this year.

 

Clippers use ridiculously steep arc to fit Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s last name on jersey (photo)

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In NBA history, there have been eight players with at least a 15-character last name (including spaces):

They’re no match for Clippers rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who has an 18-character last name.

The Clippers had to go to extreme angles to get Gilgeous-Alexander’s name onto the back of his jersey. We already saw this humorous setup when Gilgeous-Alexander held up a jersey in his post-draft press conference (see above), but the jersey looks even more absurd on his back.

Darren Rovell of ESPN:

It doesn’t help that Gilgeous-Alexander is so lanky. As he bulks up, maybe this won’t stand out quite so much.

Evan Fournier takes shot at LeBron’s hairline with Tweet of media day photo

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Just because LeBron James is in the Western Conference doesn’t mean you want to give him fuel for motivation when he does see your team.

Orlando’s Evan Fournier decided to have a little fun at the expense of LeBron’s hairline when Tweeting out his media day photos.

LeBron may have a whole show based in a barber shop, but he did have a little more forehead going today.

Still, Evan, is that really where you wanted to go?

Dwight Howard could miss start of Wizards camp with bad back

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Dwight Howard joked Monday about the sore back that’s expected to keep him out for the start of training camp with the Washington Wizards.

Coach Scott Brooks downplayed the significance of the injury, too. Still, it’s not ideal that the team needs to put off incorporating its one offseason addition to the starting lineup.

“I’ve been having to do a lot of traveling with shoe companies and stuff like that in China. So just from training, traveling – and airplanes weren’t made for tall people. … It kind of sucks to fly 15 hours curled up in the fetal position,” said Howard, a 6-foot-11 center entering his 15th NBA season.

“So just a minor setback. It shouldn’t take that long for me to get back on the court,” he added. “I’ve been feeling great all summer. Just something that we’ll have to deal with, and it shouldn’t keep me out too long.”

The Wizards traded away starting center Marcin Gortat to the Los Angeles Clippers and added Howard, who’ll turn 33 in December, on a two-year, $11 million contract with a player option. He averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds last season for a Charlotte Hornets team that missed the playoffs and now is with his fourth team in four years.

That means adjusting yet again – to new teammates, to a new coach, to a new system.

In Washington, everything revolves around the backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

Last season, when Wall appeared in only 41 of 82 games, the Wizards went 43-39 and were eighth in the Eastern Conference, losing in the first round of the playoffs to the Toronto Raptors.

Howard, an eight-time All-Star, said that he has not had a chance to get on a court with Wall and Beal to start getting a feel for one another.

“But one thing that I have done is I’ve watched a lot of film to really learn the tendencies of my teammates. Where they like the ball. Where they like to get screened at. Just things that will really help them get to their sweet spots,” Howard said. “A lot of times, the best way to really understand your teammate is by watching film.”

Brooks, Beal and others said all the right things at Monday’s media day about Howard.

“He’s going to make my job a lot easier. He’s going to make everybody’s job a lot easier on both ends of the floor, because you still have to respect his ability at the rim. He averaged 16 and 13 last year. Those are great numbers, you know? In our system, those can increase, easily,” said Beal, who led Washington in scoring by averaging 22.6 points and was an All-Star for the first time.

“Watching him, if you don’t hit him, it’s over. He’s going to dunk on you. And I love it. Because I think that’s going to get me hyped – just being able to have a big who’ll just flush it on you every time and somebody who will block some shots if you get beat on defense,” Beal said. “He’s a threat on both ends of the floor.”

Now it’s just a matter of getting Howard out on that floor with the rest of the Wizards.

“We’re just going to be careful. Not sure if he will practice tomorrow” when camp opens, Brooks said at the club’s media day.

Brooks listed Howard’s status as “day-to-day,” saying he wasn’t “overly concerned.”

“But we’re not going to rush him to get back,” the coach said.