Brandon Jennings is considering a move that would make him an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2014, reports Marc J. Spears of Yahoo! Sports. He's set to become a restricted free agent this summer, but if the Bucks make him a one-year qualifying offer to retain the right to match offers from other teams in the offseason, as they'll almost assuredly do, Jennings is free to take it. If he does so, next season will be his last in Milwaukee, as he tells Spears.
"If I take the qualifying offer and become an [unrestricted] free agent there is no way I am coming back," Jennings said. "There is no way."
Doing so would be a bold move for Jennings and new agent Jeff Schwartz, who could command much more than the $4.33MM Jennings would make on the qualifying offer. Still, it would allow him to ensure an early exit from the Bucks, who Jennings insists must upgrade their roster and turn their organization into a championship-caliber operation in order to retain him long-term, according to Spears.
"I just want to win," the point guard said. "The way I am playing now, I just want to go to a winning team and play like that. I don't care about being a superstar or being the main guy. I did that [the] first four years. I just want to win and be somewhere where it's all about winning. I'm not saying the Bucks aren't about winning. But I think [a title caliber situation] will help me, motivate my game and then you have to perform."
Bucks GM John Hammond said he'd be surprised if Jennings takes the QO, but added that he's "not taken aback" by his point guard's pronouncement, believing it to be "a natural discussion to have." Jennings, who turned down a four-year, $40MM extension before the season, indicated he could be dissuaded from taking the qualifying offer if the Bucks grant him a lucrative deal this summer.
Jennings last month confirmed his interest in signing with the Mavs in the offseason. Dallas will have plenty of cap room to make him an offer up to the maximum, but Milwaukee would have the ability to match any deal he signs with another team. If, for instance, Jennings signed a four-year deal with the Mavs, the Bucks could match it, and Jennings would be tethered to Milwaukee until 2017.
The Bucks possess an advantage over other teams this summer, since they alone could offer Jennings five years instead of four in his next contract. They could also offer him raises for 7.5% instead of 4.5% if they were to give him a max deal, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors examined when he looked at players likely to receive max deals this summer. Jennings is the last player on that list, but it's unclear if the Bucks or any other team considers the 23-year-old a max player.