Is Brandon Jennings' Best Bet to Hit Free Agency Again During 2014 Offseason?

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Is Brandon Jennings' Best Bet to Hit Free Agency Again During 2014 Offseason?
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

NBA teams have avoided offering Brandon Jennings the big money he's looking for. With each passing day, the reality is he may be better off trying again as a free agent next summer.

Jennings can sign the qualifying offer that the Bucks extended to him near the end of June, which would keep him in Milwaukee for another season and make him an unrestricted free agent in 2014.

This summer is not lost for Jennings, whose relationship with the Bucks has soured over the past month. There is still the possibility of a sign-and-trade with the Detroit Pistons or something else could come up in time.

The problem is that Jennings is adamant about two things: he wants to play for a winning team and make $12 million per year in the process.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Jennings is a durable point guard who averaged 17.4 points per game last season and shot 37.5 percent from the three-point line. However, he also shot just 39.9 percent from the field and only averaged 6.5 assists while posting an assist-to-turnover ratio that was 25th in the NBA.

At $12 million, Jennings would be making as much as Rajon Rondo in 2013 and just $500,000 less than Tony Parker. 

Sinking that much money into a point guard means you better be getting a guaranteed star in return for most teams. They need more than hope that his deficiencies will fade away with age.

Coming into the league, the concern with Jennings was that he was a shoot-first point guard who couldn't run an offense. He even said as much himself during an interview following a predraft workout with the Golden State Warriors back in 2009.

Four years later and he's done nothing to shake that title. Jennings attempted the seventh-most shots among point guards in 2013, while handing out the 15th-most assists. His field goal percentage also kills his value, as he placed 31st among qualified point guards.

Signing his qualifying offer and staying for one more year in Milwaukee would give him another chance to prove his worth to teams in the league.

If Jennings is serious about ridding himself of the "chucker" title, he has a fine opportunity to do so given a one-year deal with the Bucks.

Jennings can pass, he proved that much after averaging nearly nine assists per game in March. He even started that month out by picking up 19 and 17 assists in back-to-back games. The problem is the inconsistent effort he puts into his passing game. Spending a season consistently running the Bucks' offense would drastically help his value on the open market.

Becoming a free agent in 2014 would make Jennings the most attractive option at point guard. This year he had to compete with Jose Calderon, Jeff Teague, Jarrett Jack and ball-dominating shooting guards like Monta Ellis and O.J. Mayo.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While the 2014 free agent class is incredibly top-heavy, it's light on point guards. Aside from Tony Parker, who has a non-guaranteed deal for the 2015 season, Jennings would be the best unrestricted point guard available.

Once LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kobe Bryant and all the other top-tier players decide on their futures, Jennings will suddenly become more enticing to the teams that missed out on franchise guys.

If Jennings is able to put together a season in which he gets his shooting above 40 percent while adding to his assist numbers, he could likely find that $12 million per year contract and get out of Milwaukee.

The only downside of signing the qualifying offer is that Jennings would be spending another season with the Bucks for just over $4.5 million.

Since 1999, Michael Olowokandi, Ben Gordon, Stromile Swift and Ben Gordon are the only top-10 picks to sign a qualifying offer, so it is a rare move to make. However, it is one that puts Jennings in a position of power.

If he really wants to leave Milwaukee and make an uninhibited decision on his next team, biting the bullet and becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2014 is his best option.

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