Brandon Jennings isn't the answer for Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.
Prior to the trade deadline, Mark Cuban and company were interested in acquiring the point guard from the Milwaukee Bucks. Nothing ever materialized, but it was a bad idea then, it's a bad idea now and it's going to remain one after the season.
According to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News, however, neither the Mavericks nor Jennings see it that way:
Now that J.J. Redick is a Buck and is going to get a long-term deal from the team this summer, what happens to Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings? They could be gone. Jennings hopes to land in Dallas via a free-agent deal this summer and the Mavs would love to get him, but he's restricted.
To some extent, it's easy to understand the mutual interest. Dallas is in dire need of a starting-caliber point guard and Jennings is supposedly unhappy with the Milwaukee Bucks.
In spite of such communal interest, however, landing Jennings is going to prove difficult, if not impossible.
The Mavericks will have roughly $20 million annually to burn through over the offseason, affording them the financial resources necessary to field a competitive offer for the soon-to-be restricted free agent. But "restricted free agent" is the key phrase here.
As a restricted free agent, the Bucks have the right to match any offer sheet that Jennings receives. Though the futures of Monta Ellis and J.J. Redick are etched in uncertainty, Yahoo! Sports' Adrian Wojnarowski is reporting that Milwaukee intends to match any offer that comes in for the floor general.
Nothing like throwing a wrench in the Mavericks' purported plans, huh?
For argument's sake, let's say Dallas decides to max him out or present him with a contract that Milwaukee isn't prepared to match. What then?
Well, the Mavericks lose out on the opportunity to pry Dwight Howard from the Los Angeles Lakers.
Assuming Jennings signs a deal similar to what fellow point men Ty Lawson of the Denver Nuggets and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors inked, Dallas would be committing anywhere between $10 and $12 million a year to him. That would account for about half of their cap space, eliminating any chance the team has of landing Howard.
Now, it must be noted that Howard still seems unlikely to spur the Lakers, rendering Jennings Plan B. Not even Cuban is enough of a contrarian to forgo the opportunity to sign Dwight in favor of anyone else, let alone Jennings.
Say that Howard re-ups with the Lakers (likely) and that the Bucks allow Jennings to amble his way on over to Dallas (unlikely). What do the Mavericks expect to do then? Win an NBA title? Contend for one?
Funny. That's not what's going to happen.
Again, Dallas needs a point guard, but to refer to Jennings as an altruistic point man is a fast and loose interpretation of the role.
Jennings averages 6.1 assists per game, but he also hoists up close to 17 shots as well. He's a scorer first, distributor second. Is that what Dirk and the Mavericks need?
Nowitzki saw his greatest success alongside the selfless stylings of Jason Kidd and Steve Nash, not next to someone who wants to emulate Allen Iverson.
Combined, both Kidd and Nash assisted on at least 30 percent of Dallas' field goals while on the floor in each of their seasons with the Mavericks, save for one. Jennings' career high in that department is 29.6, and he's at just 27.6 for this season.
Among all guards, his 27.6 percent assist rate ranks 27th, behind that of backups like Pablo Prigioni, Jarrett Jack, Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless. His mark also falls short of the man he'd be replacing, Darren Collison.
For a team like the Mavericks, who will still boast Nowitzki and more than likely O.J. Mayo, the last thing they need is a scoring point guard.
Per Synergy Sports (subscription required), 63.9 percent of Nowitzki's total offensive touches have come as the roll man in pick-and-rolls, a spot-up shooter and in post-ups.
He needs someone to put the ball in his hands.
According to hoopdata.com, 62.6 percent of his baskets come off of assists. Watching him, one can tell he's a talented isolation scorer, but he's more dangerous when he's being set up off of pick-and-rolls, spot-ups and the like.
For Mayo, just 21.1 percent of his offensive touches come from spot-ups, post-ups and assuming the part of a roll man in pick-and-rolls. Only 49.5 percent of his field goals come off of assists as well. He's not as reliant upon a point guard as Nowitzki is.
Which means he's not suited to play next to Jennings, either.
Playing alongside Nowitzki takes the ball out of Mayo's hands enough, so he is not going to fare well opposite a point guard whose effectiveness is predicated upon the same methods as his.
He receives 32.5 percent of his offensive touches as the ball-handler in pick-and-rolls and in isolation. By comparison, Jennings receives 46.6 percent of his possessions under the same circumstances, which isn't exactly conducive with success alongside a self-sufficient scorer like Mayo. Just ask Monta Ellis.
Mayo doesn't necessarily need a point guard to create scoring opportunities for him (though that wouldn't be a bad thing), but he does need someone who is willing to dump the ball off and let him go to work.
That someone isn't Jennings, who is at his best with the ball in his hands. Let's not pretend he can simply adjust to playing off the ball. He's shooting just 36.8 percent as a spot-up shooter this season.
Jennings is going to cringe at the thought of featuring Nowitzki over himself already. He'll implode if he's relegated to the third scoring option.
Say the Mavericks are intent on overlooking this as well. Say they embrace a state of ignorance and assume they can run their offense amid unstructured bedlam. Maybe then Jennings makes sense.
Dallas is allowing 102.9 points per contest this season, the fourth most in the league. The Mavericks need to start restructuring what is currently a lackluster defensive foundation. That cannot start with Jennings either.
Jennings is allowing opposing point guards to post a 17.4 PER per 48 minutes, higher than that of his 16.6. He's undeniably quick, but he makes plays on the ball far too often—while his lateral moves are sound, his vertical ones are sloppy.
Dallas can't afford to house another premier defensive liability. The team is failing to cover up the deficiencies of the ones they already do. Jennings would only be perpetuating a trend that helps lose, not win.
Last time I checked, the Mavericks wanted to use what little time Nowitzki has left contending for championships, not staring in envy as other convocations trounce their unrealistic expectations.
Bringing in Jennings would only help facilitate the latter; it would only help eternalize the trials and tribulations the Mavericks have yet to overcome.
It would render their championship aspirations but a whimsical theory, a hypothetical dream.
Which is why the Mavericks should be forever grateful that their chances of procuring Jennings are about as slim as their title hopes would be with him.
*All stats used in this article were compiled from Basketball-Reference, Synergy Sports and 82games.com unless otherwise noted.
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