Left without an extension like many of his NBA draft class of 2009 brethren, some started to speculate this being the beginning of the end for Brandon Jennings as a member of the Milwaukee Bucks.
That's simply not the case, however, according to Hoopsworld's Bill Ingram:
The next thing to be considered is the Bucks’ commitment to Jennings, and HOOPSWORLD has learned that the commitment is very real. There is no plan to trade Jennings or even gauge his market value, as he is seen as the long-term solution and a firm foundation around which to build in Milwaukee.
If the Bucks are truly committed to keeping Jennings and not just throwing up a smokescreen to garner trade value, the team is making a brilliant move.
When looking for a reason why, it starts with the obvious: Jennings' abundant talent.
Of the players currently on the Bucks roster, only Jennings has a shot at becoming an All-Star on a yearly basis. The young guard has plenty of problems with his game, but the talent to become an elite point guard has always been there.
Jennings showing that brilliance early in the season only exemplifies the type of player he could become. Through two games, Jennings is averaging 17 points, 13 assists and four steals per game, the latter two of which both lead the NBA.
More importantly, though, he looks like a vastly improved jump shooter. It's obviously a minuscule sample size, but Jennings' shot looks smoother and he's shooting it with more confidence than years past.
Considering that the fourth-year guard has improved about two percent per season since joining the NBA, his first two games are only slightly above the average margin. If Jennings becomes a 45 percent shooter this season, look out because he could win the NBA's Most Improved Player Award.
All of that said, the overarching reason Milwaukee is smart for wanting to keep Jennings is more about retaining his potential than his on-the-court prowess.
Let's not be coy. Star free agents aren't exactly falling over themselves to play basketball in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I mean, even Jennings said that he was looking into big markets earlier this year.
The only way teams like the Bucks build is by finding talented players through the draft, surrounding them with fellow youngsters and developing a winning camaraderie. Or, as most NBA fans know it, the Oklahoma City Thunder model...before they decided the bottom line was more important than championships.
Even keeping a 2011-12 version of Jennings allows Milwaukee to keep hopes alive that the team is working on something similar.
The Bucks have a full season to evaluate nearly every member of their organization, starting with their general manager and working their way down to coach Scott Skiles to most of their talent on the court.
Don't be surprised if Jennings is the only one remaining when we tip off the 2013-14 season. And also don't be surprised if that decision is widely remembered as the one that turned the Bucks franchise around.