will be a restricted free agent this summer.(Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
By Rob Mahoney
Recently re-upped GM John Hammond is reportedly pursuing a variety of leads and discussions that could dramatically influence the Bucks' roster going forward. Josh Smith, J.J. Redick and other available players have been linked to Milwaukee already, in addition to a number of scenarios that would see the Bucks ship out trigger-happy guard Monta Ellis. Yet no matter the twists and turns that these trade rumors take, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports that the Bucks' most attractive trade pieces are off the table:
Yet amid all of those talks, sources say, Jennings has moved alongside Larry Sanders and John Henson on the Bucks’ list of near-untouchables. This is despite Jennings’ widely presumed desire to leave Milwaukee in free agency this summer after failing to seal a contract extension in October like fellow point guards Jrue Holiday, Steph Curry and Ty Lawson and then changing agents earlier this month.
Sanders was a presumed lock to stay in Milwaukee, while Henson's name hasn't often come up in recent trade rumors. Jennings, on the other hand, became theoretically -- if only theoretically -- available based on two bits of reported information:
• After changing agents, it was reported that Jennings would be chasing a max deal as a restricted free agent this summer.
• Chad Ford of ESPN.com reported (ESPN Insider access required) that Jennings and the Bucks had "irreconcilable differences." (When approached about the report, Jennings flatly denied the implication.)
Yet even with those reports in mind, the idea of the Bucks trading Jennings when they run no risk of him bolting as a free agent made little sense to begin with. I have no doubt that other teams around the league may have been interested in acquiring Jennings, but why would Hammond and the Bucks be interested in such a deal when they can either re-sign Jennings on their own terms or match any formal offer that comes his way? That's not a power you give up on a whim, even with the risk of Jennings inflating his value a bit this summer. Whether Milwaukee should be building around Jennings at all is another question entirely (and a fair one, given his faults). But it appears that he'll at least be a Buck through the deadline.