Brandon Jennings has pretty much always been a starter. The dynamic guard who can score the ball in a hurry has battled injuries the last few years, but when he’s been healthy he has proven he can fill up the basket. Now after stints in Orlando and Detroit — where for a minute he looked like a franchise guy — Jennings finds himself and his surgically repaired Achilles in New York, charged with winning a Sixth Man of the Year Award for the Knicks. (That’s how Zen guru Phil Jackson cleverly tells a starter he’s going to come off the bench — by telling Jennings he expects him to win the Sixth Man prize. )
Jackson also gave Jennings $5 million for the season — not a fortune by NBA standards but not a pittance. And Jackson hardly had to mention that if Jennings does win the Sixth Man Award, he’ll be looking at a giant payday next year. Plus, if you ask a Chicago Bulls fan, the guy whose job it is to back up Derrick Rose isn’t destined to have to come off the bench all the time. Jennings knows he has a good chance to start some games, maybe a lot of them. He’s also smart enough not to mention it. About not starting and waiting his turn behind Rose, Jennings told 33rd and 7th (listen below): “I’m in the biggest market, the greatest basketball city, the Mecca, so who cares? Let’s just win. We win, the whole city loves us.” Truer words have rarely been spoken.