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Knicks Q&A: Ten minutes with Brandon Jennings

Brandon Jennings at New York Knicks Media Day

Brandon Jennings at New York Knicks Media Day at the Ritz Carlton on September 26, 2016 in White Plains, New York. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Michael Reaves

Point guard Brandon Jennings was passed on by the Knicks in the 2009 NBA Draft (in favor of Jordan Hill) but he wasn’t going to pass on a chance to play for them.

Jennings, who has played for the Bucks, Pistons and Magic, signed a one-year, $5 million deal. Feeling healthy after missing long stretches of the past two seasons with a ruptured Achilles, the high-scoring Jennings will lead the second unit and is excited about finally playing for the Knicks.

Q: You’ve said you feel like a rookie again, what did you mean?

Jennings: “I feel like it’s my first year again. More just like exciting, new situation, I have never been in a big market like this before so a lot is different. You got to embrace it, the New York sports town and things like that. But still in the back of your head you know there’s a lot of pressure. You just see the support from the fans and they expect a lot out of you.

Q: Did you need a change?

Jennings: “Yeah. Yeah. I wasn’t expecting a change like this, to be here in New York. This is one of the best experiences so far. Playing in New York, you definitely have to bring your A game and just play hard.”

Q: What other teams were interested in you?

Jennings: “Actually I didn’t get any offers from any other team but New York. A lot was because of my Achilles, nobody knew how healthy I was and things like that. I definitely put in the time this summer, lost a lot of weight. I made sure I was ready. When Phil (Jackson) called, I was like ‘Yo, I’m coming.’ It was a no-brainer . . . Shoot, I would have come here for a million. It didn’t matter. I just wanted to be in an NBA uniform and be somewhere where I had a chance to win, and New York City — why not?”

Q: Do you feel like you have something to prove?

Jennings: “I definitely do. It was 29 teams that didn’t want me so I definitely have a chip on my shoulder, and I definitely want to prove to everybody that I’m back and I’m healthy and I’m just a team player.”

Q: Derrick Rose was already on the roster. Was it hard for you to accept a reserve role?

Jennings: “I definitely accepted that, playing behind a guy like Derrick Rose. Going to another team, coming off the bench probably not. But a guy like Derrick Rose, who’s been an MVP, who’s proven himself, who’s been to the Eastern Conference Finals — I can learn a lot from him. I definitely accepted that role.”

Q: What are you hoping for this season?

Jennings: “Just having fun again. I’ve never played with All-Stars like Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. I told Melo I’ve never played with a guy who can go get 30 a night. I’m definitely excited about that. Now that I know I have dogs behind me that’s going to ride with me, I can just be myself.”

Q: Have you ever played with someone like Kristaps Porzingis?

Jennings: “No. We definitely have a feel already. Our feel is good, our chemistry is good. I just want to get him easy shots and help him be an All-Star.”

Q. You had 21 assists in a game in 2015. Do you think about what you can do with this team?

Jennings: “Yeah, I definitely do. I didn’t shoot the ball well at all this preseason but I think just getting out there, having fun again, showing energy, playing hard, being more emotional out there on the court, just bringing something different. The thing I was told about being a Knick was if you play with passion and play hard every night you’ll be loved. So that’s all I want to do: just play hard.”

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