How much longer will Brandon Jennings be a Milwaukee Buck? Photo Credit: Keith Allison, Flickr.com
The Milwaukee Bucks seem headed towards a first-round clash against the big, bad Miami Heat. They’re a dreadful 3-7 over their last 10 games and their star, Brandon Jennings, is now a bit peeved after being benched during the fourth quarter of Milwaukee’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, March 27. Really, there isn’t anything positive that will come out of this situation.
Jim Boylan reportedly benched Jennings to energize his team. Prior to the start of the fourth quarter–when Jennings was benched–the Bucks erased an 18-point deficit the previous quarter. That’s some energy right there.
But Boylan’s attempt to create more energy had a reverse effect. Jennings instead turned against him and while he has hit a bad streak lately (12.9 points over his last 10 games), the Bucks’ offense still runs through him. I would presume that they realize that too, so Boylan’s credibility is now a bit wobbly, and probably won’t be restored any time soon.
And could the inexperienced head coach pick a better time than late March, when his team is in the middle of a playoff hunt, to brew a storm?
Hopefully you picked up on the sarcasm, because ultimately, he couldn’t have picked a worse time to play tricks with his superstar. Plus, when Jennings feels singled out, which he does, the Bucks’ chemistry will only weaken.
“I think that everyone should be held accountable,” Jennings said via ESPN.com. “There’s no maxed-out players in this locker room. So don’t try to put me on a pedestal and just give everyone else the freedom to do whatever they want.”
The final day of the regular season is lurking. The Bucks’ playoff hopes are almost a lock, but the eighth seed shouldn’t appeal to them. For that matter, it shouldn’t appeal to any team, as the Heat are undoubtedly the most dangerous team in the league.
Claiming the seventh seed would dramatically increase the Bucks’ chances of avoiding a first-round exit. First, they would have to pass the Boston Celtics, who currently occupy the seventh spot, but are 4-6 over their last 10 games. Boston’s final 12 games are relatively smooth sailing, while the Bucks have the fifth-hardest remaining schedule in the East, percentage-wise.
Back to the point, though.
Now that a fire has been lit under Jennings, there are two foreseeable routes he will embark on: One, this controversy blows over and the Bucks’ chemistry remains intact entering the playoffs.
The other route, well, isn’t so prudent. If the benching continues to be a problem, the Bucks will continue their downward slide, fail to overtake the seventh and likely get swept by the Heat in the first round. Of course, Milwaukee could still struggle over their final 11 games and they could easily get swept as well. After all, we are talking about the big, bad Miami Heat, who are riding a massive wave of confidence. But the fashion in which they do it in will be much, much different.
Monta Ellis has a choice to make in the offseason. Photo Credit: Pablo Gamez, IsoSports
Then, there’s the aftermath. Jennings has already poked at the idea of accepting a qualifying offer from the Bucks this offseason and then leaving after next season. The fact that leaving Milwaukee was already cemented in his mind is the twist. Perhaps this latest feud was the final straw in Jennings’ mind. Perhaps he will now definitely take the qualifying offer and storm out of Milwaukee next year.
But there’s more. Monta Ellis’ early termination clause enables him the option to escape Milwaukee this offseason. If Jennings takes the qualifying offer, then there’s a rather good chance that Ellis will explore reinforcing his clause because he wouldn’t want to waste a season in a bad situation. He’s not getting any younger and beyond Chris Paul, Dwight Howard and Josh Smith, he would be a coveted commodity on the free-agent market.
Don’t forget about J.J. Redick, who the Bucks acquired at the trade deadline in February. Redick has been a solid addition, but his time in Milwaukee could also come to a close after the season. The free-agent guard can test the open waters this summer and like Ellis, he could probably find a better situation than his current one with the Bucks, if Jennings remains unhappy.
Ultimately, Jennings’ unhappiness could just be the start of a major overhaul in Milwaukee over the next couple years. Boylan touched a nerve and in turn, the Bucks could eventually lose their three best perimeter players.