Author: Kurt Helin

Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings says he added 25 pounds for this season


Brandon Jennings admits he was not good last season.

He shot an almost respectable 33.7 percent from three and was okay on the right side of the arc, but once he stepped inside that line things didn’t go so well. He took almost 60 percent of his shots inside the arc and hit just 39.7 percent of them. He struggled to finish around the rim (shooting just 52.9 percent inside three feet) and his pull-up jumper seemed guaranteed to brick. Plus his defense was… unimpressive. To put it kindly. There were flashes of good play — and of course plenty of swagger — but the words “consistency” and “Jennings” were not used in the same sentence last season.

If Jennings doesn’t defend or take better shots for Stan Van Gundy this year, he’ll sit. Or be gone.

So Jennings rededicated and that started with adding 25 pounds of weight, he told Vincent Goodwill at The Detroit News.

“I’m about 185, 190 on my good days,” said Jennings, noticeably thicker but still wiry…

He said the added weight should help on the defensive end, as well as absorbing contact when he goes to the basket.

Reports of off-season weight gain-loss are about as trustworthy as the ones on late night diet infomercials. That said, a trusted reporter did say he looked thicker, so something is there.

As for Van Gundy.

“He’s really big on details and he said you’re gonna have to play defense and give your all, every night,” Jennings said. “He already said it, I’m not expecting you to lock guys up one on one. Guys are just too good. But what we can do is give a good effort and play team defense.”

He’s a stickler for effort and playing smart — every time down the court. Consistency. Like all great coaches he expects, no, demands it. That will be challenge number one for Jennings.

Van Gundy has a lot of issues on his plate (starting with the Andre Drummond/Josh Smith/Greg Monroe front court mess) but he’s not going to be hesitant to get a new point guard if Jennings doesn’t improve.

We’ll see how much the muscle helps with all that, but after watching Jennings for years I’ll want more than words about pounds before I buy in.

Chris Bosh was guest DJ on “Ellen”

Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh is much taller than Ellen DeGeneres, there was a lot of humor to be mined there.

The Miami Heat’s $118 million man was the DJ for a day on the daytime television powerhouse that is Ellen. I don’t know what he was spinning (probably not a lot of Insane Clown Posse is my guess), mostly he was there to pimp his new line of ties.

And be tall.

Mike Miller knows in Cleveland his role will shrink. He’s good with that.

Mike Miller

On a Memphis team in need of shooting, Mike Miller’s role grew and grew last season. He stayed healthy for 82 games and came off the bench to knock down more threes than anyone on the team and put up 7.1 points a game. If he’d returned to the land of great barbecue that role would have expanded more.

Instead he’s headed to Cleveland with LeBron James.

That’s going to mean fewer minutes, fewer touches (Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and James Jones can all knock down the three ball). But Miller is good with that because he wants another ring, he told the Cavaliers official Web site.

”There’s no reason to have concern (over touches),” Miller explained. “I’ve been blessed enough to be in my 15th season. It’s going to take sacrifices. This team, as good as it looks on paper, if we’re going to be successful, people are going to have to sacrifice — whether it’s minutes, shots or financially — that’s the commitment it takes to win a championship. It’s never easy.”

Miller and other veteran addition Shaun Marion will be key for Cleveland this year. The team is loaded with talent but it’s going to spend a season trying to find its identity under coach David Blatt, plus when it gets to the playoffs a lot of key guys (Irving and Love in particular, plus Dion Waiters and others) have never been there. Miller and Marion can help guide a young team through the rough parts. That LeBron guy can pitch in, too.

”For our team this year, it’s been well-documented what our goal is and what our expectations are here,” Miller said. “There’s going to be ups and downs. But the whole thing for us is to make sure that we get better every game, continue to get better the whole season and, hopefully, we’ll be playing our best basketball when it really matters.”

Sounds good. But saying it is the easy part, there is no easy way of making it reality.

Timberwolves to open camp with Andrew Wiggins vs. Zach LaVine dunk contest

Andrew Wiggins

This is what we want to see, why play around with anything else.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are opening their training camp with a college-style midnight madness event called “Dunks After Dark” taking place on the campus of Minnesota State University, Mankato. I suppose that makes some sense since the majority of key Timberwolves players are of college age.

The highlight on Sept. 29? An Andrew Wiggins vs. Zach LaVine dunk off.

Which if we are lucky will transfer over to the All-Star Dunk Contest in New York the following February.

Report: Spurs working out free agent Michael Beasley… wait, what?

Milwaukee Bucks v Miami Heat

Gregg Popovich and Michael Beasley? I see that relationship playing out about as well as Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in “The War of the Roses.”

Beasley is not exactly known for selflessness. Or playing within a system. Or focus. Or attention to detail. Or being a solid citizen in the locker room. Or anything else that has made the Spurs the Spurs.

But the Spurs are working out Beasley and considering him for one of their open roster spots, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Free-agent forward Michael Beasley is working out for the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs at the franchise’s practice facility this week, league sources told Yahoo Sports…

Off-the-court issues have contributed to NBA teams’ reluctance to sign Beasley, but there’s still a belief he can be an effective scorer. His best NBA season came with Minnesota in 2010-11, when he averaged 19.2 points per game.

That Minnesota team had no offensive firepower to speak of, so they threw the ball at Beasley and said “you have the total green light.” He put up a lot of empty, pretty inefficient points. And his career has slid down from there. He was on the Heat last season but Popovich and the Spurs didn’t see much of him in the Finals because by the time the playoffs rolled around Beasley had been so deeply buried on the bench their was barely any light.

Beasley has had a few other team workouts this summer but no team has been willing to take the risk.

San Antonio is better than any team in the league at finding guys on the scrap heap, putting them in their system to learn, to play to their strengths, then shocking the world. If Popovich can do that with Beasley he should be canonized as a saint next summer, because we’ve got the attributed miracles now.

The reality is the Spurs likely leave that last roster spot open, and if they fill it then it will be a player they think can grow in their system. Beasley, the former No. 2 pick, has never shown that at any stop. Hard to imagine that now.