Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings is playing a lot of pickup basketball

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Over the lockout, there have been a lot of very good stories about what NBA players are doing to keep busy while they wait for news on when the season is going to start. Here’s the latest one of those stories, a lengthy and interesting profile of LA native Brandon Jennings’ Summer basketball regimen by SI’s Lee Jenkins. Jennings has been playing basketball wherever and whenever he can this summer, and is regaining some of his street-ball legend status in the process:

Jennings has become the union’s underground ambassador, appearing in more pickup games than Wesley Snipes and Woody Harrelson. “Where they hooping?” he tweets in the morning, with a hashtag for his location. He considers all offers, and if he chooses one, he tweets the address in case anybody wants to stop by…

…The score was kept on a hand-operated flip board. Kids shot at the open basket when action shifted to the opposite end. Players kicked the ball when they got mad and peeled off their shirts when they got hot. AIS won the first two games easily, with Jennings at three-quarters speed, but was tied at 10 in game three. “F—!” Jennings yelled, before heaving a full-court pass for a layup, drilling a 35-foot step-back jumper, then pulling up for a 40-foot clincher. “Next,” he said. After one more game, not as close, he hopped back on his low rider and pedaled into the darkness, past the softball players warming up for their beer league, all the way to his aunt Marsha’s house for dinner.

Jennings had a rough sophomore season. His three-point percentage went way down last season, he had fewer assists per game than he did his rookie year, and he didn’t improve his sub-par scoring efficiency very much while being the point guard for the NBA’ s worst offensive team. Maybe a summer full of 40-foot bombs, playground scoring explosions, and off-the-head passes will boost Jennings’ confidence going into next season, and help him become a true NBA lead guard after suffering a bit of a set-back last season.

Mike Budenholzer smirks at lawyer calling Thabo Sefolosha ‘NBA superstar’

Mike Budenholzer, Thabo Sefolosha
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The funny part, via Robert Silverman:

The substantive part:

NEW YORK (AP) — NBA player Thabo Sefolosha, who was arrested outside a New York City nightclub in April following a confrontation with police officer, has a character “of the highest order,” his head coach, Mike Budenholzer, testified Thursday.

Taking the stand as the final defense witness in Sefolosha’s trial, Budenholzer described the Atlanta Hawks guard-forward as “highly intelligent” and a “hard worker.”

When asked by defense attorney Alex Spiro to describe his character, he said it was, “of the highest order.”

“Thabo is of the highest character,” he said during brief testimony in Manhattan Criminal Court.

The Swiss national is charged with misdemeanor obstructing government administration, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest charges stemming from a confrontation with officers outside a trendy Manhattan nightclub early in the morning on April 8. He has pleaded not guilty.

Officers testified this week that Sefolosha and former teammate Pero Antic repeatedly disobeyed their orders to move off the block and away from a crime scene that had been established following the earlier stabbing of another NBA player, Chris Copeland, and two women.

One of the officers also said Sefolosha lunged at an officer with his arm extended but was intercepted before making contact, eventually taken to the ground and arrested.

Sefolosha has testified that he was complying with orders and moving up the block as a particularly aggressive officer screamed profanities at him.

His attorney has argued that his client was singled out by the officer, who is white, because Sefolosha is black.

Sefolosha testified Thursday that he was trying to give money to a panhandler before entering an awaiting car when he was grabbed by police. He said his leg was kicked in the scuffle and he was taken to the ground, handcuffed and hauled to a police precinct. He suffered a fractured right leg, which forced him to miss the playoffs.

The case is the second one involving high-profile athletes accusing New York Police Department officers of wrongdoing this year. On Wednesday, the city agency charged with investigating police misconduct substantiated claims by former tennis star James Blake that an officer used excessive force when he took him to the ground last month after mistkaing Blake for a fraud suspect.

As expected, Jimmy Butler says no issue between him, Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler
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Is the Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler relationship nothing but puppy dogs and rainbows? No. There will be sparks between two intense competitors.

Have those sparks started a fire Bulls fans should be concerned about? A report on Wednesday said the core problem was Butler doesn’t respect Rose’s work ethic, which provided some kindling for that spark to catch.

However, as you would expect, Butler said this was all much ado about nothing, that he and Rose are all good. Via K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:

Spin this however you wish: Their relationship is fine and someone in the media is making this up; or their relationship has been rough, and this is all just leaking out now.

This is a Bulls team in a bit of a transition as Rose declines some and Butler has grown into a top-flight player. Clearly that dynamic has some people around the team — likely the people in one of one of the players’ camps doesn’t like the power struggle or where it leaves his buddy — talking out of school to the press.

But as Butler noted, winning cures all ills. If Chicago can get off to a fast start, nobody will be asking chemistry questions.

For now, however, tounges are wagging.