DALLAS — Brandon Jennings spent his first year of professional basketball overseas. He may also spend his fourth.
The trendsetting young Buck could easily see himself going back over the pond next season in the event of a lengthy lockout. A guy’s got to make a living, and Jennings knows the landscape having played in Italy straight out of high school.
“I’m sure my value will be higher than it was before, the first time I went over there,” he told NBA.com last night after helping Milwaukee snap the Mavericks’ 12-game winning streak. “I’m sure this time I’ll get some playing time. The will be the best thing, I’ll be able to play now, make a little money and keep some income coming in for my family.”
Jennings made the ground-breaking leap to Europe in 2008, signing with Lottomatica Roma of the Italian League, instead of going to college. The swift lefty played sparingly with Lottomatica, but did gain valuable experience and it didn’t hurt his draft stock. The Bucks selected Jennings 10th overall in the 2009 Draft.
NBA rules require players to be at least 19 and one year out of high school before being eligible to enter the league. (The union has asked to restore the minimum age back to 18 in its CBA proposal.)
It’s no secret that NBA players are considering playing in professional leagues around the world in the event of a work stoppage. The longer one lasts and the more paychecks are missed, the greater the possibility for many to find employment elsewhere. Players are within their rights to work and therefore play in another league, regardless of their current contract status with NBA teams, in the event of a lockout.
But a major obstacle would be obtaining a letter of clearance from FIBA to sign with international teams, given the relationship between FIBA and the NBA. The NBPA would undoubtedly fight any obstruction, perceived or otherwise, to its members earning a living.
Though his first move to Europe didn’t exactly open the floodgates for other prep players to follow, Jennings may well lead a new exodus to foreign lands.
“Oh yeah, of course I wouldn’t mind going back overseas,” Jennings said. “I’ve been almost everywhere overseas and I lived in Italy for a year. I know what type of game it is and I know what it’s about.”
In the second year of his rookie contract, Jennings said he’s living by a strict budget. He drives a Ford Edge, doesn’t have a fancy house and stays near the Bucks practice center.
“It’s a good thing I’m living in Milwaukee,” Jennings said, “because when the snow comes I’m not leaving the house.”