ST. FRANCIS – Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings presently constitute the Milwaukee Bucks’ starting backcourt.
Will that dynamic duo be the team’s backcourt of the future as well?
That remains the $64,000 question as neither Ellis nor Jennings appears close to committing to the team for the long haul.
Ellis, whom the Bucks acquired in a blockbuster trade with Golden State in March, has an opt-out clause in his contract after this season. The scuttlebutt around the league is the high-octane scoring Ellis will exercise that option and become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Ellis, who will be paid $11 million this season and $11 million again next season if he decides to remain in Milwaukee, said he isn’t overly concerned about his contract situation.
“I’m just thinking about basketball; that’s it,” Ellis said.
Ellis added he wasn’t in any rush to secure an extension from the Bucks. When asked if his agent, Jeff Fried, has been negotiating with the Bucks, Ellis said, “They talked just one time. They didn’t talk about much.”
While there isn’t a sense of urgency regarding Ellis’ contract situation, the clock is definitely ticking on Jennings receiving an extension. Under collective bargaining agreement rules, Jennings has until the end of this month to sign an extension.
If Jennings declines, he would become a restricted free agent next summer. The Bucks would have the chance to match any offer made by another team for Jennings’ services, but they undoubtedly wouldn’t want to be in that precarious position, especially if another team makes Jennings an extraordinary offer.
Like Ellis, Jennings had little to say about his contract status, noting, “I think that’s why players hire agents, so they can take care of that.” Jennings is represented by Bill Duffy.
Jennings, now in his fourth pro season, will be paid $3.17 million for the 2012-13 campaign. He is eligible for a maximum contract extension of nearly $58 million over four seasons – or $14.5 million annually.
While Duffy will most certainly push for a max contract for his client, it’s highly doubtful the Bucks, who have repeatedly said they would like to reach an agreement with Jennings, will agree to those demands.
Jennings made it clear he’s quite content in Milwaukee.
“I’m comfortable here; I embrace the city,” Jennings said. “Actually, there’s a lot do here in Milwaukee. You just got to go and find it. I’m just enjoying myself here.”
Mbah a Moute still mending
As expected, veteran forward Luc Mbah a Moute will be sidelined indefinitely as he’s still recovering from offseason knee surgery.
Mbah a Moute said he’d likely miss training camp, which starts Tuesday, but was hoping to be ready for the team’s regular-season opener against the Celtics in Boston Oct. 2.
With Mbah a Moute sidelined, 20-year-old Tobias Harris is expected to replace him in the starting lineup at small forward. Harris who was the Bucks’ top pick in the 2011 draft, played in 42 games and averaged 5 points and 2.4 rebounds in his rookie season.
Harris then excelled in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.
“He had a great summer,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said of Harris. “He worked as hard as any young player I’ve seen.”
Skiles conceded veteran Mike Dunleavy could also possibly replace Mbah a Moute as a starter, but said his “preference” would be for Dunleavy to continue coming off the bench. Dunleavy played well last season off the bench and established himself as one of the NBA’s best sixth men.
Tucker among non-roster players
Former University of Wisconsin standout Alando Tucker is one of four non-roster players. Tucker, a 6-6 shooting guard-small forward, played in Spain last season. Tucker, by the way, is dating former Racinian Krystal Ratliff, who is working in Chicago. Tucker and Ratliff met each other while both were attending Wisconsin.
Besides Tucker, the other non-roster players are former Weber State point guard Eddie Gill, former Virginia guard Mustapha Farrakhan and former Louisiana-Lafayette guard Orien Greene.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: Jennings on living in the same building with Ellis: “I’m on the on 25th floor; he’s on the 24th. Like I told him, ‘If I’m making too much noise, hit the broom (on the ceiling) and I’ll quiet down.”