INDEPENDENCE: Mike Brown hasn't had to rely on a rookie in about seven years. From the sounds of things, he has no interest in starting now.
Brown has been critical of top overall pick Anthony Bennett's play in the preseason opener because of Bennett's air ball on a 3-point attempt, his failure to get back in transition and his failure to box out.
Asked if it pains him to rely on a rookie, Brown said, "It probably would, yes. But it’s just the preseason, so it doesn’t matter. If it was the regular season, probably after the first air ball he shot from 3, and the first time he didn’t get back on defense in transition, or the first time he didn’t box out, he would’ve been coming out of the game. He wouldn’t have played big minutes. But it’s the preseason so it’s a great time for him to learn and grow and get better."
Bennett stayed late after practice on Thursday getting extra shots up. He was working on footwork with assistant coach Phil Handy and looking more comfortable around the 3-point line.
Bennett insisted he wasn't nervous during his first preseason game, even though he appeared to be. C.J. Miles even tried calming him down at the free-throw line.
"I wasn't nervous at all," Bennett said. "First game back since March or April. I'm just trying to get back into the groove."
It could take him awhile to earn Brown's trust. He grudgingly played Shannon Brown and Daniel Gibson as rookies during the 2006-07 season, but Brown quickly fell out of favor. Gibson, however, played big minutes during the Cavs' run to the Finals.
The only other rookie Brown really dealt with in either Cleveland or Los Angeles was J.J. Hickson, and Hickson's mental lapses drove him crazy.
"He’s coming to work every day," Brown said. "He’s trying and he’s realizing he can go even harder than what he’s going. The good part about it is we don’t have to rely on him as most teams would a No. 1 pick, so we can bring him along slowly. We’ll let him move or go as quickly as he does and not put any pressure on him to get there sooner than later. That’s the luxury being around the group of guys we have here. They can carry him and help him until he gets to a point where he’s ready."