DALLAS – Brandon Jennings will make his lone appearance this season at the American Airlines Center tonight, but it isn’t hard for him to envision Dallas as home.
That could be a possibility this summer, when the Milwaukee Bucks point guard will be a restricted free agent and the Mavericks hope to use their ample space under the salary cap to acquire high-impact talent.
“Who wouldn’t want to play in an environment like this every night?” Jennings said after the Bucks’ shootaround. “You’ve got an owner who’s so into his team and everything like that. Every time you see the Mavs, you see him cheering or going crazy. They won a championship. They’re about winning.”
The Mavs had a level of interest in the Jennings before the trade deadline, but the Bucks never put him on the block. Milwaukee will have the right to match any offer Jennings gets after this season, so the mutual interest between Dallas and the dynamic 23-year-old point guard might not matter, as far as getting him in a Mavs uniform.
For now, Jennings is focused on getting the Bucks to the playoffs with Milwaukee sitting in eight place in the Eastern Conference standings. He’ll explore his options along with Mavs-friendly agent Jeff Schwartz this summer.
The 6-foot-1, 169-pound Jennings, who is averaging 18.9 points and 6.1 assists this season, calls the possibility of running the pick-and-roll with Dirk Nowitzki on a regular basis “crazy.” The Mavs are intrigued by Jennings’ ability to create.
“I just like his dynamic athleticism, his ability to get on big rolls as a player,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said, speaking generally about Jennings’ game, not about the possibility of the point guard playing for the Mavs in the future. “He’s an aggressive attacker and he’s very difficult to guard because he can both get into the paint and kill you there and if you want to go under screens, he can jump up and knock down four or five 3s in a row. He’s a load to deal with.”
The biggest flaw in Jennings’ game: He has a career shooting percentage of less than 40 percent. He is shooting 40.3 percent this season, numbers that were boosted by Jennings lighting up Deron Williams’ Brooklyn Nets for 65 points on 25-of-44 shooting in back-to-back games coming out of the All-Star break.
“I feel like I have to take shots on this team,” Jennings said. “There might be times that I do take crazy shots or shots that I have to take because the shot clock is low or things like that.
“But since the All-Star break, I’ve been really conscious of trying to take good shots and just take shots that are going to help the team. Now that we’ve got a couple of trades in, I feel like I probably don’t have to take too many crazy shots anymore.”
Could Jennings be an efficient scorer and playmaker playing in Carlisle’s system with Nowitzki? Depending on how the summer shakes out, we might find out next season.