Milwaukee's short foray into the playoffs is over, which means it's time for it to make some very important decisions about its two most enigmatic players.
2012-13 By the Numbers
Brandon Jennings shot 29.8 percent from the field in the series vs. Miami. po.st/vKrxQ1— HoopsHype (@hoopshype) April 28, 2013
38-44: The Jennings-Ellis connection netted just 38 wins for the Bucks, enough to squeeze them into the playoffs, but nowhere near enough to get them out of harm's way and out of a series with the Miami Heat.
14: Milwaukee won just 14 games in the final three months of the season. That's 14 wins in 42 games (including the playoffs). Stretch that out over the course of a year and the Bucks would be the fourth-worst team in the NBA.
40.7 and 33.8: Jennings and Ellis combined to shoot just 40.7 percent from the field this season and 33.8 percent from the three-point line.
12.5: Jennings and Ellis combined for 12.5 assists per game throughout the season with the Bucks, nearly 55 percent of Milwaukee's 22.8 assists per game. They were the only qualified teammates to average at least six assists apiece.
15: Just 15 of Milwaukee's 38 wins were over 2013 playoff teams.
What They're Saying
Brandon Jennings will perhaps be the most interesting free agent to watch this summer.
As a restricted free agent, Milwaukee has the rights to match any offer that Jennings signs, but Jennings might have another idea.
In March he talked about signing the Bucks' qualifying offer, keeping him in town for another year, and then hitting the free-agent market next season to play where he wants on a bigger contract.
Jennings turned down a four-year $40 million deal before the season started, so he'll likely be looking for something much larger. He's also talked about his desire for the team to make some changes, according to Marc Spears at Yahoo! Sports.
Jennings considers Milwaukee a "great sports town" and has enjoyed his time there, but in order to keep him long term, Jennings said the Bucks' offer must be lucrative and there needs to be changes in the roster and the organization to make it championship caliber.
That, combined with his ongoing feud with Bucks head coach Jim Boylan, makes it seem as if it could be one or the other leaving this summer.
Monta Ellis, meanwhile, is in a much simpler situation.
He's got an early termination option for next season, and he's said that he'll be opting out and testing the free-agent waters.
He could end up back in Milwaukee, but it would be after he takes a look around.
Both players seem to have free-falling stock, but for seemingly different reasons.
Jennings turned down the contract extension before the start of the season in the belief that he is on the level of Stephen Curry (who got a four-year, $44 million extension) or Ty Lawson (who got a four-year, $48 million extension).
The only problem is that Jennings hasn't shown real improvement aside from his slight uptick in assists this season. He's shot poorly (between 37 and 42 percent) for his entire career, and this is no longer the mid-00s, when volume shooters could get huge, multi-year deals.
Ellis, meanwhile, is a player who would probably be best served as a good team's second- or perhaps even third-best player. He has proven, at this point in his career, that he isn't a guy to float your franchise on.
He's won just one playoff series in eight years, and that was when he was a part of the Baron Davis-Al Harrington-Stephen Jackson-Monta foursome.
Otherwise he's only been on two teams that finished with a record above .500, and he was at best a second banana on both of those teams.
Teams will have to make a tough decision on whether or not he fits into their system, and what he's worth in regards to his upside and his downside.
- 2012-13 Contract: $3,179,493
- 2013-14 Contract: $4,330,469 qualifying offer
- Relevant: Reportedly turned down four-year, $40 million offer in October
- 2012-13 Contract: $11 million
- 2013-14 Contract: $11 million early termination option
- Relevant: Last contract was a six-year, $66 million extension signed in 2008
Projected 2013-14 Stat Line
Brandon Jennings: 18 points, 3.5 rebounds, 7 assists, 40 FG%, 38 3PT%, 81 FT%
Jennings' biggest improvement over the past two seasons has been his three-point shooting, so that should be his major selling point.
Otherwise, look for another low-percentage season from the field and a good chunk of points from Jennings, with a possible slight uptick in assists.
Monta Ellis: 20 points, 3 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 43 FG%, 30 3PT%, 79 3PT%
It actually wouldn't be surprising to see Ellis get back to a decent field-goal percentage depending on the team he signs with, with a bit of a return to the norm from the three-point line.
He's never going to set the world on fire, especially if he's relied upon too much, but he could start to figure things out moving forward.
The Crystal Ball Says...
Brandon Jennings gets an extension.
Milwaukee is in a situation where it'll either have to completely rebuild the team, giving up Ellis and Jennings, or it'll panic and keep one of the two at their desired salary.
While signing the qualifying offer would be a huge power move by Jennings, I don't expect it to happen. Rather, he'll go out and get a qualifying offer, somewhere just north of that four-year, $40 million mark which will end up getting matched by the Bucks.
On a very related note, Jim Boylan won't remain Milwaukee's head coach.
Monta Ellis goes elsewhere.
Some team out there can fix Monta Ellis, and they know it. They might have to overpay him for a few years to get him in the door, but he can be fixed.
There was a time when Ellis was shooting 45 percent from the field and 36 percent from the three-point line. He's just fallen off somewhere along the line.
Either way, don't count Monta out. He still may have it all.
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