2013 Free Agency, NBA / Jul 30, 2013 / 1:04 pm

Where The Top Remaining Free Agents Will Go: Brandon Jennings, Nikola Pekovic & Greg Oden

Greg Oden

Greg Oden

The NBA’s free agency period is winding down, but there are three players whose future is still up in the air: Brandon Jennings, a restricted free agent with Milwaukee; Nikola Pekovic, the same status as Jennings with Minnesota; and Greg Oden, who hasn’t played in the NBA since fracturing his left patella in December of 2009, and who is now an unrestricted free agent. One Eastern Conference player is wondering where they’re headed, and so are we.

The Indiana Pacers have significantly upgraded their bench this offseason with Luis Scola and Chris Copeland replacing Tyler Hansbrough and Sam Young on the second team while C.J. Watson replaced D.J. Augustin for backup point guard duties.

The changes have made them possibly more talented than Miami in the East. Perhaps because of the significant upgrades they’ve made to their bench, Roy Hibbert, wants to know about the top remaining free agents.

Lets take a brief look at these three and where they’re likely to play next season as of this writing.

Nikola Pekovic

Pek is a restricted free agent who bizarrely hasn’t attracted an offer from a competing team. According to the Star Tribune, new ‘Wolves GM, Flip Saunders, is supposed to fly to New York early this week to meet with Pekovic’s agent, Jeff Schwartz.

The ‘Wolves have an offer on the table for a four-year $50 million deal, and Schwartz has made a counter-offer. Rather than negotiate by phone, Saunders is coming to meet Pek’s reps in New York. Most observers feel this deal is just a formality with Minnesota consistently reiterating they want their big Balkan back. Perhaps that’s why no one else has tendered an offer for Pek despite him becoming one fo the most efficient scorers in the block last season, and a tough presence underneath. We see a deal happening any day now, with Pekovic returning under a four-year deal that will pay him close to max money.

Brandon Jennings

Poor Brandon Jennings. He feels like he’s a max player, but his team already tried to lure Jeff Teague to Milwaukee with an offer sheet the Hawks eventually matched; they’ve also already signed O.J. Mayo with a three-year $24 million contract to replace Monta Ellis while bringing on Luke Ridnour from the ‘Wolves as a possible starting point guard should Jennings get an offer from another team.

No one can really figure out what the Bucks are doing this off-season, since they have roughly four centers and more front court players than they know what to do with. They also own Jennings’ Bird rights, so they can pay him max money without worrying about salary cap issues. There is a qualifying offer Jennings could elect to take, paying him $4.5 million next season, and it would allow him to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

If the Bucks don’t offer him a multiyear deal he thinks he deserves (e.g. four years $40 million plus like Jrue Holiday, Stephen Curry or Ty Lawson), then he’ll be forced to sign the QO since no other teams appear interested in forcing the Bucks’ hands with a big offer. The new CBA has forced teams to consider even those offers to restricted free agents from different teams.

Keep reading to find out where Greg Oden might play next season.

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  • ablade

    The problem for Jennings is that (by the numbers) he’s a very average Point Guard. With a lot of players you can pick out one stat and say “he’s 3rd in… (assists/scoring/PER/etc)”, with Jennings you can’t. He’s a jack of all trades, master of none.

    Some examples:

    28th in the league PER
    45th – assists
    17th – wins added
    54rd – true shooting %

    There are more point guards, each with unique traits and specialities, coming through the draft each year. It seems each draft is packed with them (obviously there will be more point guards anyway because it doesn’t require the height that other positions do), but each year we’re seeing the draft packed with new exciting, skilled, athletic, scoring PGs (another 14 players coming through this year. That equates to practically half the league taking in new PGs in just this draft!). You can see it in the number of good (but not excellent) PGs who are finding it hard to get a contract. It’s perhaps the one position you really need to excel at, and be consistent in to ensure a long career.

    To use the year Jennings was drafted, as well as Jennings there is (a sample!):

    Steph Curry
    Jrue Holiday
    Ty Lawson
    Jeff Teague
    Ricky Rubio
    Eric Maynor
    Darren Collison
    Patrick Beverly
    Toney Douglas

    Clearly Jennings is better than some of those, but he’s arguably not even top 3 in the year he was drafted. Steph Curry is earning $12 million, Ty Lawson $11 million, Jrue $11 million, Teague less than $8 million, Collison accepted a deal at less than $2 million a year.

    What do they all have in common? They all posted better PER than Jennings last season. Every team is going by (to some extent) the numbers these days. They might not all embrace metrics to build an entire squad, but even scouts, coaches, GMs will have some awareness of them, teams hire consultants to run past potential signings, hell some teams even have dedicated analytical departments with multiple-employees running the numbers!

    He’s a decent player, the problem is there are “decent” point guards throughout the NBA, some teams are 2 or even 3 deep in “decent” or promising point guards!

    I actually think Jennings will be better served by playing through his qualifying offer. His numbers should improve playing next to Mayo (who has a really solid FG% for someone who’s not afraid to try a few 3s per game, which can add some nice assist numbers), being an unrestricted free agent will mean he will draw some offers. If he can put together a good season with solid numbers, he could walk away with a contract on the right side of $10 million (next free-agency). Although I think he’ll probably get around $8 million. Maximum contract? Especially now? Nope, just don’t see it. They’d be better served riding him on his current deal for a year and searching for someone as good as/better in the draft or free-agency.

  • ablade

    okay Pistons, if you want me to tell you how much salary to pay your players, at least put me on the payroll!