The 1st of August signified the date that the Milwaukee Bucks would waive or guarantee Brandon Jennings contract for the 2018-19 season. Those that follow the Bucks closely were expecting Jennings to be moved on, and sure enough, at around 2 pm on Wednesday, Shams Charania announced that it was indeed the case.
The move brought the Brandon Jennings era in Milwaukee to a close for the second time, and in a sign of his career trajectory due to a multitude of reasons, it brought little fanfare, in fact, relief appeared the main emotion from a large portion of the Bucks fanbase.
That’s not so much a negative reflection on Jennings as it is a realization of the roster construction in Milwaukee. As it stood, Jennings was to be the fourth string point guard with very little chance of seeing minutes barring injuries to key players. Releasing Jennings opened the door for the Bucks to sign Pat Connaughton, a versatile wing with outside shooting that will provide Milwaukee with much-needed depth at the position.
The Milwaukee Bucks have waived guard Brandon Jennings, league sources tell Yahoo.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 1, 2018
It was almost five years to the day that Jennings was first shipped out of Milwaukee, in a sign and trade agreement with the Detroit Pistons on July 30, 2013. Though erratic, Jennings was thought to be a rising talent in the league, but the Bucks looked to move forward with a similarly young guard from Detroit, Brandon Knight. Khris Middleton and Slava Kravtsov were the steak knives in the deal that has proved to be a home run for Milwaukee.
Jennings has always been a player carrying a sizeable chip on his shoulder, from the initial disappointment of falling to pick ten on draft night, to eventually being traded by the team that once appeared could be his, he always felt like a prospect that promised more.
In his second season with the Pistons, Jennings was threatening to realize that talent, averaging over 20 points and seven assists per game in January. Devastatingly, his Achilles gave way during his sides contest with the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center. In a moment that became career altering, Jennings suffered a complete tear of his Achilles on the court he once called home, while defending you guessed it…Brandon Knight.
Struggling to have the same impact on return, Jennings bounced between franchises in the coming years, playing for the Pistons, Orlando Magic, New York Knicks and Washington Wizards before singing in China with the Shanxi Brave Dragons. Posting huge numbers in the Chinese Basketball Association, a return to the NBA once again became a possibility.
Jennings looks back on his time in China fondly, using the time to escape the pressures and scrutiny of the NBA, a release that was familiar to him from his time in Italy as a teenager. Via Uproxx, the now 28-year-old is easily able to find the positive in what many would view as a giant step back in his career during the prime years of his athletic life.
“I was able to spend four months there by myself,” Jennings said. “So I was able to think about all type of things I’ve done wrong in life, and the positive things in my career. Life just slowed down for me. It was actually something that I needed as a person, and I’m happy with my decision.”
The path from China led Jennings to Oshkosh, as the Wisconsin Herd signed Jennings, bringing him closer to an NBA return with the franchise where it all started. Jennings got plenty of shots up, scored some points, and eventually would get his chance with the Bucks on a 10-day contract.
In a move that induced a healthy dose of nostalgic memories for Bucks fans, Jennings made his Milwaukee return in Memphis, against the Grizzlies, nearly five years after his last outing with the Bucks. No longer sporting the Christmas colours most Bucks fans despised, it had become an entirely different franchise in post Jennings years, and the above-mentioned throw-in from the original trade, Middleton, had become one of the leagues quiet achievers – a borderline All-Star talent on a team looking to take the next step behind the freakish talents of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Jennings turned it on against Memphis, posting a near triple-double with 16 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds, while knocking down three triples in the Bucks road win against the Grizzlies. The Bucks laboured through an uninspired performance, with Jennings burst and propensity to push the tempo proving to be a key factor. Sitting and watching that game, it was hard not to think back to a younger Jennings, sprinting up and down the floor at break neck speed, slinging the ball towards the basket with his trademark lefty style. It was fun, but as we all probably knew at the time, that first up performance would turn out to be the highlight of his second stint with the Bucks.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) March 14, 2018
Jennings would only reach double digit scoring one more time in his 14 regular season appearances, eventually falling completely out of the rotation as Malcolm Brogdon (quad) and Matthew Dellavedova (ankle) returned from injury on the eve of the playoffs.
As the original initiator of the now cult catchphrase ‘Bucks in Six’, Jennings would play only 4:56 seconds in the Bucks seven game first round series with the Boston Celtics. Milwaukee would fall to the Celtics, with a lack of contributions on the road proving to be too much to overcome. Despite lacking help for Middleton and Antetokounmpo, Jennings remained on the bench for the entire Game 7 loss, his final Milwaukee outing spent entirely in warmups, leaving him to quietly exit the TD Garden floor as a raucous Celtic crowd celebrated in jubilation.
The future now appears uncertain for Jennings, with the majority of NBA rosters nearing capacity heading into training camp. A wise and mature Jennings took his second stint with the Bucks in his stride, a popular and hard-working member of the squad despite limited opportunities, and would appear to be in a great place to contribute wherever he ends up.
After scoring 55 points in just his seventh NBA appearance against a Golden State Warriors outfit with Steph Curry coming off the bench, the stark reality of Jennings basketball future once would have thought to be unfathomable. Often misunderstood, coupled with a devastating injury, one just has to wonder what could have been.
With a bit of luck, Brandon Jennings story in the NBA is far from over, but either way – Bucks in Six.