StatBox Free Agency Breakdown: Hawks win, Bucks, Mavs and Jennings lose in point guard derby

Brandon JenningsAs free agency and summer league wind down and the steamy, sultry dog days of summer commence, there is still at least one valuable free agent still on the board — Brandon Jennings.

While Chris Paul, Jeff Teague and most other point guards went off the market in this annual game of monetary musical chairs, there are two notable parties that lost out in a big way: Jennings, and the Dallas Mavericks.

Around the time of the trade deadline, many wondered what the Utah Jazz and Milwaukee Bucks would do. Which big man would Utah choose, Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap? Turns out neither. Which point guard would Milwaukee choose, Jennings or Monta Ellis? It sure looks like the answer will also be neither.

Milwaukee had ample opportunity to re-sign one of them, but they decided to foolishly give O.J. Mayo $24 million over three years and signed Atlanta’s Jeff Teague to a four-year offer sheet worth $32 million, the same average annual value as Mayo despite Teague being a vastly, vastly superior player. That offer sheet was the best thing that happened to the Hawks this offseason, which is impressive considering they signed Millsap to a really cap-friendly contract (he might be just marginally worse than Josh Smith, but at a much lower price).

Teague v George HillGiven Teague’s skill set, it was a no-brainer for Atlanta to match the offer sheet. He’s going to be underpaid for four years, making Danny Ferry’s once grim-looking offseason a qualified success.

In virtually the same amount of playing time as the season before (33.1 and 32.9 minutes per game), Teague’s scoring average rose to a career high 14.6 points per game.

His assists rose from 4.9 to 7.2 per contest.

His 3-point field goal percentage and free throw percentages were at career high levels, as were Win Shares and PER.

Teague was sixth in the league in total assists and had the 13th-most turnovers, which led to a nice 2.48:1 assist-to-turnover ratio. He was in the top 10 in free throw percentage and just outside the top 10 in assist percentage. This is a player you pay $11 or 12 million, and the Hawks will have him at a discount from age 26 through 29, likely his prime. That’s a huge win.

While Milwaukee was waiting on Atlanta to match Teague’s offer sheet, Ellis went off and signed a three-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks for $30 million. Keep in mind what Dallas’ situation is, and then you’ll realize how this move is simply not smart at all.

Monta EllisDallas drafted Miami point guard Shane Larkin, and that was a good move considering he could be groomed to be a very solid player at the pro level. Fine.

But then Larkin broke his ankle in summer league, and he’ll be out three months.

Then on July 1, they signed Israeli Gal Mekel to a three-year deal to add some nice depth at point guard. So signing a stopgap point guard while Larkin develops would be a smart decision, right? Not if you’re Dallas.

The Mavs then went out and signed Jose Calderon to a four-year deal worth $29 million. So much for Larkin being the PG of the future…

Oh but wait, Dallas wasn’t done collecting ballhandlers.

They’re in the process of signing veteran Devin Harris (although there are injury complications), and they overpaid Ellis by giving him $2 million more per season than Atlanta gave Teague.

  • Ellis’ 41.6 field-goal percentage was his worst mark since his rookie season in 2005-2006.
  • He shot 28.7 percent from three, which wouldn’t be a problem if he didn’t take four treys per game last season.
  • His scoring average has decreased in four straight seasons.
  • His assist-to-turnover ratio is less than 2:1.
  • His effective field goal percentage was a career-low last season.
  • He has never been known as a capable defender.

So Dallas gave a declining player $10 million per season to take 17.5 shots per game (think Ellis isn’t going to take away shots from Dirk Nowitzki? Think again with his ball-stopping 26.3% usage percentage) while they essentially just added four new point guards to the roster before inking Ellis. How can this make sense to anyone?

Dallas will try to put Ellis at the two to pair with Calderon, but it’s really hard to envision Dallas making the playoffs next season with this roster.

jennings tattooDallas essentially chose Ellis over Jennings, which is stupid if you compare the two and consider that Jennings is three years younger. And so this leaves Jennings as the loser of our little game of musical chairs here. Jennings is not a very good shooter from inside the 3-point line, but he’s a capable distributor and could be a solid point guard for a team.

So while the Bucks waited around for Teague and signed Mayo and Luke Ridnour, Jennings got fed up and said that he no longer wants to be a Buck. Jennings reportedly wants $12 million a year, but he’s nowhere near as good as Tyreke Evans was last season and he’s certainly not better than Teague, who the Bucks would only offer $8 million a year. Maybe Jennings goes to the Pistons in a sign-and-trade, but it seems like both player and team are losing out in this situation.

So last week brought a few interesting developments. Atlanta got what it wanted, and so did Ellis. But the Mavericks, Bucks and Jennings ended up losing out — at least for now.

Shlomo Sprung loves advanced statistics and the way they explain what happens on the court. He is also the web editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. A 2011 graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School, he has previously worked for the New York Knicks, The Sporting News, Business Insider and other publications. His website is You can follow him on Twitter.


  1. Dustin says

    WOW, are you serious bro, Teague Vastly, Vastly better then Mayo……………….Mayo’s worst season is as good as Teagues best. They are the same age. And Mayo has shown flashes of brilliance, while Teague has shown flashes of mediocrity.

    Can you share some of what you been smoking please.

  2. ddddd says

    I think here with the Mavs they were reasonable as far as what they were able to do in the offseason once Dwight Howard and Chris Paul were out of the picture. They saw the fact that the “wait until ____ year” tactic has not worked and that Dirk was only getting older. I want to call the new Maverick tactic the Rocket formula step 1. Here is what I mean by that.

    Step 1: gather assets….. The rockets gathered lots of assets before they pounced on their two blockbuster trades….. I never saw the logic in Morey’s gathering of pfs or middling in the middle until those assets turned into Harden in their respective roles in the process, which then yielded Howard.
    Step 2: Develop and flip repeatedly…. regardless how it is done as long as it yields more assets which includes cap room.
    Step 3: Pounce…. aka James Harden step
    Step 4: marinate…. let it grow naturally
    Step 5: repeat steps 2 and 3….. Step 5 is the Dwight Howard step.

    I think the Mavs are gathering assets to be traded later. The pgs that the Mavericks have signed all are dynamic enough that they probably can be traded for significant assets down the road. I also think that the coach of the Mavs will be able to manage what is going on personnel wise better than most in the league.

    Monta Ellis for example, may actually complement the Mavs under the right system instead of ball hogging like he did in his prior cities. I don’t think that Ellis is in the longterm plans. I think the idea is to get him in the groove and flip him for assets later on. If Ellis can put up good numbers in a good system, his value will go up so that he can be flipped for the next disgruntled superstar in his prime, without the Mavs having to give up as many assets to get that next star. Ellis has value, he has just simply played in crappy situations in which he was pigeonholed. Could Ellis play the same role for the mavs that Kevin Martin played for the rockets? I think so….. Quality trade bait with a salary reflective of what they were worth the day they signed the contract is what that is.

  3. SM says

    Sorry but your OPINION in the Mavs dealings is just that YOUR opinion. Mavs clearly did not want to deal with a restricted Free agent and tie up their money waiting on Bucks to match or not. Also from reports here in Dallas did not show Dallas paying Ellis 10 mil the first year, in fact the final dollars are not yet set. Also Ellis will not be the point in Dallas and that is smart. Hard to be a ball hog volume shooter when someone else is handling the ball more. Rick Carlisle will get Ellis his 20 points a night, but it will not be from throwing up 17 shots a game either.

    Mavs have loaded up at guard and gotten much better players there than they had last year……wait and see. If Mavs get one or both of their remaining center targets they will be a much better team than last year…and they still were 41 41 with that mess. I agree that BUCKS messed up……they could have trade Ellis for Mayo and did not…it would have saved them cap space….

  4. TM says

    So if Dallas signs Jennings instead of Calderon and Ellis who do you offer the rest of their cap space to?


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