Brandon Jennings

And-Ones: Team USA, Jefferson, Jennings, Bass

With another round of World Cup qualifiers scheduled to begin next week, USA Basketball has officially announced its latest 12-man roster for games against Argentina (November 29) and Uruguay (December 2). The roster is made up primarily of G League players, though NBA free agents Tyler Zeller, Jarnell Stokes, and Eric Moreland are also on the squad. Other former NBA players on the roster include Chasson Randle, DeAndre Liggins, and John Jenkins.

With one more qualifying window scheduled for February after next week’s set of games, Team USA is in prime position to secure a spot in the 2019 World Cup. Team USA currently has a 7-1 record in qualifying contests, which puts the club in a tie with Argentina for first place in Group E. Puerto Rico and Uruguay are tied for third at 5-3. The top three teams in the group will earn spots in the World Cup, and the fourth-place team will have a chance to qualify as well.

Let’s round up a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world…

  • With some help from ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, longtime NBA forward Richard Jefferson published a piece on ESPN.com this week, sharing some of his memories from his NBA career and discussing his move into broadcasting.
  • After becoming a free agent this week, veteran guard Brandon Jennings may take the G League route as he tries to work his way back into the NBA, tweets Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports. However, Smith notes that nothing’s official yet.
  • Smith also checks in a pair of former NBA forward playing in China, reporting (via Twitter) that Brandon Bass is hoping to return to the NBA later in 2018/19, once the Chinese Basketball Association season ends. Jared Sullinger is also putting up huge numbers in China and is in good shape, according to Smith, who tweets that the former Celtic may be ready for another shot in the NBA.
  • Former Trail Blazers guard Tim Quarterman signed this week with Israeli team Ironi Naharyia, per his agency Prostep Sports (Twitter link). Quarterman was waived by the Rockets this past April.

Sessions, Jennings, Crawford Become Free Agents

Former NBA guards Ramon Sessions, Brandon Jennings, and Jordan Crawford are all back on the free agent market, according to a series of reports from Emiliano Carchia of Sportando.

Sessions had been playing for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel, while Jennings had been a member of Zenit St. Petersburg in Russia, but both veterans parted ways with their respective teams this week, according to Charania.

Maccabi Tel Aviv issued a statement (via Twitter) announcing that Sessions asked to be released from his contract to return home to America for personal reasons, and the club consented. Zenit St. Petersburg confirmed the end of its relationship with Jennings in a statement of its own, indicating that the two sides reached an agreement to terminate the point guard’s contract early. Jennings had griped on social media last week about playing for a team that featured a father (Vasily Karasev) coaching his son (Sergey Karasev).

As for Crawford, we heard earlier this week that the former Pelican had signed a one-month contract with German team Alba Berlin, but the club announced this morning (via Twitter) that Crawford didn’t pass his physical, voiding the agreement (hat tip to Sportando).

Sessions, Jennings, and Crawford all have plenty of NBA experience under their belts and could receive interest from clubs down the stretch, especially if some teams are hit hard by backcourt injuries. For now, all three will be free agents.

Brandon Jennings To Play In Russia

12:13pm: Zenit St. Petersburg has formally issued a press release announcing the signing of Jennings.

11:09am: Having been waived by the Bucks earlier this month, longtime NBA guard Brandon Jennings is expected to head overseas for the coming season to play for Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg, according to Nikos Varlas of Eurohoops.

Veteran agent Misko Raznatovic hinted at Jennings’ next move earlier this morning, tweeting, “2008 Rome, Italy…. 2018 Europe again! Welcome to Russia!” Jennings’ professional career began during the 2008/09 season, when he played for Pallacanestro Virtus Roma in Italy.

Jennings, a former 10th overall pick, returned to Milwaukee down the stretch last season after a stint with Shanxi in China. The 28-year-old appeared in 14 regular season contests for the Bucks, averaging 5.5 PPG, 3.1 APG, and 2.2 RPG with a .375/.273/1.000 shooting line. His contract with the club was non-guaranteed for 2018/19, so the Bucks released him on August 1 before his salary could become guaranteed.

Over the course of his NBA career, Jennings has averaged 14.1 PPG and 5.7 APG in 555 regular season contests for the Bucks, Pistons, Knicks, Magic, and Wizards. However, his production has been down since he tore his Achilles in 2015.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks Waive Brandon Jennings

AUGUST 4: Jennings has cleared waivers and is now a free agent, according to the RealGM transactions log.

AUGUST 1: The Bucks have waived reserve point guard Brandon Jennings, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. As noted previously, Jennings’ $2.22MM salary would have become guaranteed had he remained on the Bucks’ roster past today.

Jennings, 28, signed a two-year contract with the Bucks back in April after completing a couple of ten-day stints. His 2018/19 salary was initially set to become guaranteed if he remained under contract through July 1, but the Bucks pushed his guarantee date back one month to further assess their roster outlook before having to decide whether or not to retain Jennings’ services for the upcoming season.

Because the Bucks signed Jennings to a two-year deal last season, his cap hit to the Bucks for the 2018/19 season was set to be his actual salary of $2.22MM. But, when a player has been in the NBA for three or more seasons and is playing under a one-year, 10-day, or rest-of-season contract at the minimum salary, the team is only charged for the minimum salary of a player with two years of NBA experience.

Accordingly, Milwaukee very well may still decide to bring Jennings back on a new, one-year, minimum-salary contract at some point this offseason, which would end up saving the team about $710K in team salary and cap charges.

The No. 10 overall selection in the 2009 NBA Draft, Jennings has had a relatively successful NBA career so far, averaging 14.1 points and 5.7 assists per game in 555 career contests. However, he saw those numbers slip to 5.2 PPG and 3.1 APG during his 14 games with the Bucks last season.

Upcoming NBA Salary Guarantee Dates To Watch

Over the last month or so, we’ve seen a number of players traded or waived before their salary guarantees for the 2018/19 season kicked in. Players who sign contracts that feature non-guaranteed salaries in future years often have June or July trigger dates, forcing teams to make decisions fairly early in the offseason — that way, if the player is waived, he’ll still have the opportunity to catch on with a new club well before the new season begins.

We’ve been tracking those decisions using our list of guarantee dates for the summer of 2018. While most of those deadlines are now in the rear-view mirror, a few teams will have decisions to make within the next week.

Here’s a quick rundown of the decision dates to watch this week:

Brandon Jennings (Bucks): $2,222,803 salary becomes guaranteed after August 1.

Jennings’ salary was initially set to become guaranteed if he remained under contract through July 1, and there were reports at the start of the month suggesting he believed that would happen. Instead, the Bucks pushed back his guarantee date until the start of August, giving the team time to assess whether it needed the veteran guard on the roster once it was done making other offseason moves.

The Bucks recently agreed to add Pat Connaughton to their backcourt and haven’t been able to trade Matthew Dellavedova this summer, which may not bode well for Jennings’ roster spot. Even if Milwaukee decides to cut him though, Jennings could return on a new minimum-salary contract at some point — his current deal calls for a $2.22MM cap hit, but the Bucks could give him the same salary on a new one-year contract with a $1.51MM cap charge.

Brandon Paul (Spurs): $1,378,242 salary becomes guaranteed after August 1.

The Spurs tend not to throw in the towel early on developmental projects, preferring to give them time to ease their way into larger roles. Paul only averaged 9.0 minutes per contest last season, but he appeared in 64 games, signaling that San Antonio had enough confidence in him to continue giving him NBA minutes rather than hiding away in the G League. That’s a positive sign for Paul as decision day approaches.

Abdel Nader (Thunder): $1,378,242 salary becomes guaranteed after August 1. Already partially guaranteed for $450,000.

The Thunder went out of their way to acquire Nader from the Celtics in a trade last week even though the young wing already has a partial guarantee of $450K. Oklahoma City’s luxury-tax issues are well documented and the club wouldn’t have traded for him if it didn’t intend to keep him, so Nader looks like a virtual lock to have his full salary guaranteed.

Okaro White (Cavaliers): $1,544,951 salary becomes partially guaranteed for $772,476 after August 5.

White, who missed a good chunk of the 2017/18 season with a broken foot, talked earlier this month about how he’s still working to mentally get over that injury. He was physically healthy enough to play for the Cavaliers‘ Summer League team, but his performance in Las Vegas was a mixed bag. He showed off his energy and rebounding ability with 7.4 RPG in 23.9 minutes per contest, but struggled to put the ball in the basket, averaging just 6.0 PPG on 33.3% shooting.

The Cavs have roster spots to spare and could stick with White, but if they’re still unsure about his place on the roster, they’ll likely waive him by next Sunday to avoid guaranteeing half his salary for 2018/19.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bucks Notes: Ilyasova, Parker, Lopez, Zeller

The Bucks are thrilled to have Ersan Ilyasova back on the squad after three seasons without the former second-round pick.

“Ersan is a high IQ player, he can shoot the ball so he gives Giannis and the rest of the team space,” GM Jon Horst said (via the Behind the Buck Pass’ Twitter feed). “He’s competitive, he’s tough, and he knows our system, he knows our community, he knows our players. He was a guy we focused on in free agency, and we’ll be excited to add him.”

Milwaukee agreed to terms on a three-year, $21MM deal as free agency began last weekend. Here’s more from Milwaukee:

  • Horst discussed the Jabari Parker‘s pending restricted free agency during an appearance on NBATV (h/t Adam McGee of Behind the Buck Pass). “We’ve had great conversations [with Parker and his agent], we’re in contact every day. I think the market will dictate some of it, but we’ll continue to work on it and we’ll see how it turns out,” Horst said.
  • Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com examines why Brook Lopez didn’t fetch a more lucrative deal than the one-year, $3.4MM contract he agreed to with the Bucks. While Lopez will provide Milwaukee with a proven scorer in the paint, his lack of foot speed will make it difficult for him to have a defensive impact. Pelton notes that the big man’s ability to shoot from behind the arc will help the team space the floor on offense.
  • The arrival of Lopez likely means Tyler Zeller‘s time in Milwaukee will come to an end, Pelton speculates in the same piece. Zeller’s $1.9MM salary is non-guaranteed and the Bucks will have to be careful in the margins if they plan on making an offer to Parker without going into the luxury tax. If the Bucks waive both Zeller and Brandon Jennings, whose $2.2MM salary does not become guaranteed until August 1, they’d have approximately $11.5MM of financial wiggle room below the luxury tax line.

Central Notes: Robinson, Pacers’ Plans, Thomas, Bucks Cap

The addition of swingman Glenn Robinson III filled the Pistons’ biggest need this offseason, according to Keith Langlois of Pistons.com. The Pistons didn’t anticipate an early commitment but a phone call from new coach Dwane Casey as the start of free agency helped to seal the deal with the ex-Pacers wing. Robinson received a two-year, $8.3MM contract. “We didn’t expect we would get Glenn that quickly,” senior advisor Ed Stefanski said. “We felt getting the two-year commitment was huge to us. To find a young wing who can make a shot, they’re hard to find in the league. When the opportunity came up that quickly, we felt we had to make a move. If it wasn’t for him, we would still be out there looking for a guy.”

In other news involving Central Division teams:

  • Pacers GM Kevin Pritchard hopes to use a majority of next summer’s cap space on his own free agents, Mark Monteith of Pacers.com reports. Rotation players Thaddeus Young, Darren Collison, Cory Joseph, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Tyreke Evans could all be free agents next summer, which would free up as much as $57MM in cap space, Monteith notes. But Pritchard would prefer to use most of the money to re-sign some of those players, as he told Monteith. “We have the season like we want to have, our free agents will be the priority,” he said. “I think this team has a chance to grow this year. … We already know these guys. They become our priority in free agency.”
  • Rookie second-round pick Khyri Thomas could get playing time with the Pistons through his defensive prowess, Rod Beard of the Detroit News writes. The swingman out of Creighton views himself as a defensive specialist. “When I was younger, I didn’t get the ball a lot playing with older people so I just stole the ball to get it,” he told Beard.
  • The addition of center Brook Lopez gives the Bucks 13 guaranteed contracts for next season but they’re still $15MM away from being hard-capped, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks. Lopez reportedly agreed to a one-year deal on Sunday. Milwaukee still has to deal with restricted free agent Jabari Parker‘s status, as he remains unsigned, but they could gain more flexibility since the contracts for Tyler Zeller and Brandon Jennings are not guaranteed, Marks adds.

Bucks Push Back Brandon Jennings’ Guarantee Date

12:25pm: The Bucks are pushing back Jennings’ guarantee deadline, according to Matt Velazquez of The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link). As such, Jennings’ 2018/19 salary will remain non-guaranteed for now.

Spears adds (via Twitter) that Jennings had been under the impression that his salary would become guaranteed. However, his new guarantee date is August 1 (Twitter link).

10:03am: The Bucks can get off the hook for Brandon Jennings‘ 2018/19 salary if they waive him today, but they won’t do so, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated (Twitter link). By keeping him on their roster through July 1, the Bucks will guarantee Jennings’ $2,222,803 salary for next season.

Jennings, a former 10th overall pick, returned to Milwaukee down the stretch last season and appeared in 14 regular season contests for the club, averaging 5.5 PPG, 3.1 APG, and 2.2 RPG with a .375/.273/1.000 shooting line.

While Jennings’ numbers for the Bucks in 2017/18 weren’t great, he has shown over the course of his career that he’s a capable scorer and playmaker. An Achilles injury derailed his career early in 2015, but the 28-year-old is now a few years removed from that injury, and should be a solid addition to Milwaukee’s bench at the veteran’s minimum.

Malcolm Brogdon‘s 2018/19 salary ($1,544,951) will also become guaranteed after today, and the Bucks will – of course – keep the former Rookie of the Year under contract.

Central Notes: Pistons, T. Young, Free Agents, Bucks

If the Pistons are going to make changes to their coaching staff or front office, they will probably happen in the next 10 days, writes Vince Ellis of The Detroit Free Press. Preparation for the draft begins to intensify with the lottery on May 15, followed by the opening of the combine two days later. The Pistons will want to have their management issues resolved by then, even though their first-rounder is headed to the Clippers without some lottery luck.

GM Jeff Bower met with majority owner Tom Gores on Thursday, Ellis adds, amid reports that structural changes are being considered to the front office. Bower and coach/president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy, who also met with Gores this week, are both entering the final year of their contracts.

Ellis speculates that the longer the situation drags on, the less likely it is that Van Gundy returns for another season. He notes that Gores is unhappy about the way the team has managed its salary cap, particularly with generous contracts for role players Jon Leuer [four years, $42 million] and  Langston Galloway [three years, $21 million].

There’s more from the Central Division:

  • Watching the Eastern semifinals has been a painful experience for Thaddeus Young and his Pacers teammates, relays Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype. The Indiana players are still reeling after dropping a tough seven-game series to the Cavaliers, and they believe they could be on their way to the conference finals if they had gotten by Cleveland. Young adds that he hasn’t decided whether to opt out of a $13,764,045 salary for next season, but he believes the Pacers are headed for even better things. “Man, I think the sky is the limit for us,” he said. “As a team, we’re already pretty good, but I think we’ll be so much better entering next season because we’ll all have another year of experience under our belt and we won’t be a new-look team that just got together anymore.”
  • The Pacers need to add a 3-point shooter in free agency, observes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star, who examines potential targets for this summer. Indiana should have roughly $10MM to spend, even if Young opts in, which could be enough to land Wayne Ellington, Joe Harris or Marco Belinelli.
  • The Bucks are in position to trim some money from their roster heading into free agency, according to Fox Sports Wisconsin. Brandon Jennings [$2,222,803], Tyler Zeller [$1,933,941] and Malcolm Brogdon [$1,544,951] all have non-guaranteed contracts for next season, although Brogdon, a former Rookie of the Year, is expected to be brought back.

Central Notes: Parker, Love, Jennings, LaVine, Leonard

Jabari Parker has played a total of 24 minutes in two postseason games as the Bucks return to Milwaukee trailing the Celtics 2-0 in their first-round series. Parker has struggled to produce, and attributed his lack of playing time to not being on Bucks interim head coach Joe Prunty’s good side, tweets Stephen Watson of WISN 12 News.

Parker, who has torn the ACL in his left knee twice, has missed significant time over the last several seasons. He noted that not playing much after missing a lot of time to injury has compounded his frustration, tweets Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

 “I am human. I have a right to be frustrated. I’ve waited two years for this,” Parker, 23, said.

For his part, Prunty denied that Parker is on his bad side and said that he is unsure why the forward feels that way. Prunty added that Parker — and the rest of bench — can help the team and find playing time by rebounding and playing defense. With free agency looming, after two major knee surgeries, a lack of playing time in the postseason will not help Parker’s case for a lucrative deal.

Check out more Central Division notes:

  • Cavaliers forward Kevin Love suffered a partial tear of a ligament in his left thumb during the team’s Game 2 win over the Pacers, per ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. While head coach Tyronn Lue elected to rest Love after the injury, Love said that he will play through it going forward. “It’s not going to feel great tomorrow, but throw some ice on it, tape it up and be ready to go,” Love said.
  • Brandon Jennings did not play in the NBA for most of last season before he joined the Bucks‘ G League affiliate and eventually returned to Milwaukee last season. As Jennings tells David Yapkowitz of Basketball Insiders, he’s glad to be back. “It’s good, it feels good just being back in the NBA in general,” Jennings said. “A lot has changed since I left, but for the good. I’m just excited.”
  • In his latest mailbag, K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune answered several questioning pertaining to Zach LaVine‘s impending contract talks, Kris Dunn, and the Bulls‘ plans entering the draft.
  • Mark Schanowski of NBC Sports Chicago writes that overpaying to acquire Kawhi Leonard, whose injury status and relationship with the Spurs make him a possible trade candidate, is not the way to rebuild the Bulls.