There’s a good chance that Brandon Jennings is the best example of how the new CBA has changed the situation for players like him, as he didn’t get a single offer sheet to test the Milwaukee Bucks and his restricted free agency status, and eventually might settle for the very low qualifying offer in order to play one season before becoming a free agent.
Jennings expected to see deals worth around $12 million, but except for Dwight Howard and Josh Smith, no other free agent got that kind of deal by switching teams. Monta Ellis, his teammate from last season and a very similar player, got a 3-year, $25.1 million deal from the Dallas Mavericks, and Kevin Martin got something similar from the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Jennings has been receiving offers from the Bucks, willing to give him $32 million on a four-year deal, but Jennings waited out for better deals to come in, and now the well is empty. Teams don’t have the desire or the money to give Jennings the contract he thinks he deserves, which would probably have come his way a few years back. The new CBA and the fear of paying luxury tax and being repeat offenders is keeping teams from wasting away money like before.
So what are Jennings’ options? He can sign a qualifying offer worth $4.5 million, which should make him one of the grossly underpaid players in the league, and play one season before becoming a free agent. Despite his athleticism and age, Jennings has been getting a bad rep for being as inefficient as they come, as Coach Nick’s video of Why Jennings remains a free agent this late in the summer hasn’t shown him in the best of lights.
And there’s the reasonable option – agree to sign a four-year deal with the Bucks, and not take any risks heading into next summer. With so many big names hitting free agency, there’s a good chance Jennings gets looked over and won’t remain with a team that has enough cap space to give him that eight-figure salary he’s looking for.
If Jennings is truly that good and intent on getting better, the deal with the Bucks, having an ETO after two seasons installed might be his way of making the most of his the situation he’s found himself in, and still set himself up to make bigger money in the future, if he can show he has what it takes to work on his obvious deficiencies.