'Brand' new: Knight, Jennings eager to work with new teams

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By Charles F. Gardner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Two Brandons swapped sides and showed off their new jerseys Tuesday.

Now they will try their new teams on for size and hope for a great fit.

Brandon Knight was introduced in Milwaukee as the Bucks’ new point guard while Brandon Jennings received a warm welcome in Detroit, where he gets the keys to the Pistons offense.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m perfect,” the 6-foot-3 Knight said at a news conference at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

“Me as a player, I work on a lot of things. I can improve defensively, pick-and-rolls I can improve offensively. I can be more efficient. Those are three things right off the top of my head that I’ve been working on.

“Even shooting at the free throw line, decision-making, there are a lot of places I can improve. I embrace that and I know I’ve taken steps this summer in those areas.”

Knight, who will turn 22 in December, said he has worked out diligently near his home in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area this summer and is eager to get to work with his new Bucks teammates.

“I’ve been working out with Gary (Neal) the past couple days. He’s a great shooter. And O.J. (Mayo) as well. I know O.J. a little bit. I think it’s going to be very fun.”

Knight said he sees himself strictly as a point guard, and Bucks coach Larry Drew supported that stance.

“What he brings to the table is what a coach looks for at that position, the speed, the quickness,” Drew said. “The ability to make shots, the ability to get to the lane, the ability to make other people better.

“I don’t know where this, ‘Is he a point guard, is he a shooting guard?’ came from. He’s always, in my eyes, been a point guard. (He’s) a point guard that has the ability to score, and that’s a big, big luxury. At 21 years old he’s played a lot of games already in the NBA.

“With the mix of players we do have, I think we have guys that are really going to help his game a lot. I feel very good with the changes we made and bringing Brandon in, we really have solidified the position with him and Luke (Ridnour).”

Knight has had some individual battles with Jennings in the past and will be wearing No. 11 in Bucks green the next time they meet.

“It works both ways,” Knight said. “He’s a good player, and I’m sure we’re going to see each other a lot more.

“We just switched places. It’s a business. It happens. I’m happy to be here.”

Jennings arrived in Detroit with some questions about why he lasted so long in free agency and whether his shot selection could undermine the Pistons. But the 23-year-old Jennings, who averaged 17.5 points and 6.5 assists last season, said he will be a different player while wearing his new No. 7 Detroit uniform.

“I definitely have to change my game for this team, just with the talent I have around me,” Jennings said. “We have a great frontcourt. We have some great vets. We have (Rodney) Stuckey, (Chauncey) Billups; we have a bunch of great players.

“The things I was doing in Milwaukee I won’t have to do here. Take all those bad shots, because we have so many pieces.”

Jennings was asked about his long wait as a restricted free agent before finally being traded to Detroit by the Bucks last week. The Bucks tried to sign guard Jeff Teague, but Atlanta matched the four-year, $32 million offer, leading to the deal that brought Knight to Milwaukee in exchange for Jennings.

“It wasn’t that frustrating at all, because I knew I had a good agent in my corner,” Jennings said of agent Jeff Schwartz.

“That’s what I was doing the whole summer was being patient and waiting. I just kept my mind on working out and just trying to get better. I just didn’t think about it too much.”

Jennings signed a three-year, $24 million deal and then was sent to Detroit in return for Knight, small forward Khris Middleton and center Viacheslav Kravtsov.

When Jennings was asked to compare playing in Detroit to his Milwaukee experience, he had a quick response.

“Well, for one, it was out of my control,” he said of the trade. “For two, Detroit has more championships, the Bad Boys. If you go back in the ’80s when Joe Dumars (current Pistons general manager) and Isiah Thomas were playing, the best two-guard backcourt to play the game, (they were) just real feisty. It’s actually a great sports town.”

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