FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, Haslem, Parsons, Noah

1 » ESPN.com’s Chad Ford took an early look at the prospects potentially available in the 2015 NBA Draft and had a number of Florida Gators on his top-100 list. Leading the way at No. 13 overall is forward/center Chris Walker, who is projected to be a lottery selection. He is followed by sophomore point guard Kasey Hill (No. 29), junior guard Michael Frazier II (No. 65) and redshirt junior F Dorian Finney-Smith (No. 67). Walker has already decided to turn pro after the 2014-15 season, though Hill will need to take a major step forward if he hopes to leave after his second campaign. Frazier and Finney-Smith will likely remain at Florida for their senior seasons.

2 » Power forward Udonis Haslem chose not to exercise his player option of $4.6 million with the Miami Heat, the second time in his career that he has left money on the table to help the club have increased flexibility in free agency. The last time Haslem made a similar maneuver, he gave up $10 million in salary to re-sign with Miami instead of take a free agent contract with the Dallas Mavericks. Halsem, now 34, is near the end of his NBA career. He averaged a career-low 14.2 minutes per game during the regular season and played less than 11 minutes on average in the 2013-14 postseason. Rather than take the chunk salary of $4.6 million he is due as an option, he is expected to sign a multi-year deal for a larger amount (but lower annual salary) that will be paid out over three or four seasons. Chances are Haslem will retire before seeing the end of his contract and be given a role in the Heat organization while still being paid by the franchise. He will be entering his 12th season in 2014-15.

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Pouncey, Cooper

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah played the second-most minutes of any reserve in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, his second-straight appearance in the midseason contest, scoring eight points on 4-of-5 shooting with five rebounds and a steal in 21 minutes. Noah saw extensive time down the stretch for the Eastern Conference, which outscored the Western Conference 87-66 in the second half to pull out a 163-155 victory in the highest-scoring All-Star game ever. After the win, Miami guard Dwyane Wade referred to Noah as “one of the best competitors I’ve ever played against,” noting that his defense played a major part in the East’s success. “In the locker room,” he said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “we talked about having fun and enjoying it, but [Noah] was serious. He wanted to win. You could see it in his face. … I’m glad he was on our side.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Pouncey, Cooper

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FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Calathes, Parsons

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah on Tuesday registered the fourth triple-double of his career, scoring 19 points, grabbing 16 rebounds and dishing 11 assists in 41 minutes to lead his team to a 100-85 win over Atlanta. Noah, who also registered three blocks and made a highlight behind-the-back pass on the evening, recently received his second-straight NBA All-Star nod. He has posted double-doubles (or better) in three of his last four games and is currently averaging 11.8 points along with career-highs of 11.5 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Noah, Beal, Calathes, Parsons

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Joakim Noah earns 2014 NBA All-Star Game nod

Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls on Thursday was named a reserve for the Eastern Conference in the 2014 NBA All-Star Game.

“I’m just happy. I’m honored to be selected to play in the All-Star Game and play against the best players in the world,” he told ESPNChicago.com. “It’s very humbling. I’m happy my hard work is paying off. Even though it’s not my priority, it’s still a pretty good achievement. I’m proud of it.”

Noah received the second-straight All-Star nomination of his career after averaging career-highs of 11.4 points and 4.2 assists through the first half of the 2013-14 season. His 11.7 points per game is just 0.2 away from his career-best mark.

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Chandler Parsons scores career-high 34 points, sets Houston Rockets, NBA threes records

Former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons broke all kinds of records Friday night, hitting 10 three-pointers and scoring a career-high 34 points in a one-point Houston Rockets home loss to the Memphis Grizzlies.

Parsons posted more than three times as many points than any of his teammates while setting a Houston team record with his 10 triples, the most a Rockets player has ever connected on in a single contest.

All 10 of his threes came in the second half, which means Parsons also set an NBA record for most treys made in one half of a game.

Friday’s performance could go a long way to enhancing Parsons’s chances at receiving his first NBA All-Star nomination as a reserve.

He is currently averaging 17.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game for Houston while shooting 50.3 percent from the field, all career-bests.


Image via @ESPNStatsInfo on Twitter

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Marreese Speights set to sign with Golden State

Monday evening the Golden State Warriors and free agent center Marreese Speights agreed in principle on a multi-year contract that can be signed when NBA restrictions are lifted on July 10, according to TNT’s David Aldridge.

Speights, who will be joining his fourth team entering his sixth season in the league, averaged 8.3 points and 4.9 rebounds in 16.5 minutes per game during the 2012-13 regular season. He played mostly as a reserve, starting three total games.

After playing the first 40 games with the Memphis Grizzlies, which signed him to a two-year, $8 million contract in the offseason, Speights was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers where he played the final 39 games of the campaign.

Following the season, he chose to opt out of the second year of his contract in hopes of securing a multi-year deal, leaving $4.5 million on the table.

According to USA Today‘s Sam Amick, Speights’s deal is for three years with the third year being a team option.

Speights appears to have secured the contract he was looking for and joins fellow former Florida Gators power forward David Lee in Golden State’s frontcourt. Lee earned his second career NBA All-Star nod last season as he averaged 18.5 points, 11.2 boards and 3.5 assists last season while starting 79 games for the Warriors.

Lee and Speights never played together at Florida. Lee left as a four-year senior in the spring of 2005; Speights joined the Gators a full season later in the fall of 2006.

The duo is the third pair of former Florida players on an NBA roster together as of press time joining C Joakim Noah and forward Erik Murphy of the Chicago Bulls and guard Mike Miller and PF Udonis Haslem of the Miami Heat.

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FOUR BITS: NBA free agents, USA, Tyus, Parsons

1 » Center Marreese Speights is not the only former Florida Gators player making news at the start of free agency for the 2013-14 NBA season. According to Yahoo! Sports‘ Adrian Wojnarowski, the Golden State Warriors have put power forward David Lee on the trading block. Though Lee had a fantastic season for Golden State, averaging 18.5 points and 11.2 rebounds per game on his way to the second All-Star nod of his career, he has three years and $44 million left on a maximum contract he signed two years ago. Joining Speights on the market early Monday morning was F Corey Brewer, who averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.4 steals in 24.4 minutes per game during the 2012-13 season with the Denver Nuggets. The Houston Chronicle reported Monday that the Houston Rockets will be meeting with Brewer soon in Los Angeles, CA. Also likely on the move this offseason is point guard Nick Calathes, who has yet to play in the NBA but still has his rights held by the Dallas Mavericks, which drafted him with a second-round pick in 2009. Dallas recently signed an Israeli player at Calathes’s position, making “it very likely” that his rights will be traded, according to ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon.

2 » USA Basketball started competing in the 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship over the weekend, finishing 3-0 in the preliminary round with three blowout victories. The Americans, led by Gators head coach Billy Donovan, defeated Ivory Coast 88-29 on Thursday, China 113-57 on Friday and Russia 115-47 on Saturday. Donovan is now 8-0 all-time in international competitions with last week’s 61-point average margin of victory leading the United States to a win in Group D and a spot in the second group stage. Florida rising sophomore guard Michael Frazier II struggled with his shooting a bit during the three games. In 17:49 against Ivory Coast, Frazier went 1-for-8 (0-for-4 from three) for two points with five rebounds. In 19:24 against China, he had his best game by going 5-of-13 (4-of-11 from downtown) for 15 points. Facing Russia, Frazier finished 5-for-12 (2-for-8 from long range) with 12 points, three boards and two assists.

3 » Former Gators F Alex Tyus on Monday inked a three-year, $1.1 million deal with Maccabi Tel Aviv and will return to Israel (where he is a member of the national team) after a one-season stint in Russia with Pallacanestro Cantu. He averaged 8.1 points and 3.7 rebounds during the 2012-13 campaign but fared better in the Israeli League as he posted averages of 12.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocks during the 2011-12 season. Tyus, who converted to Judaism in 2011 before signing with Maccabi Ashdod out of college, could remain with Maccabi Tel Aviv through the 2015-16 season as the third year of the contract is a club option.

4 » The Rockets are believed to be the front runners to land C Dwight Howard, the top free agent available during the 2013 offseason, and Houston is using former Florida F Chandler Parsons as a big part of its pitch. According to the Houston Chronicle, Parsons “speaks often with Howard” and discusses not just the Rockets’ success on the court but also the chemistry in the locker room. “We have great guys,” Parsons told the paper. “We don’t have any egos. We don’t’ have any cocky, arrogant guys. We have guys with the same mindset and same attitude. We genuinely all like each other and enjoy playing together. All of us text back and forth pretty much every day. Whether it’s us joking around or us talking about what we’re doing to get better or trying to get together in the same city for group workouts, we’re always looking for ways to get better and stay in touch and keep that relationship most teams don’t have. We’re all friends. We’re all thinking about each other.”

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12 Gator Bites for Friday, May 31

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Despite signing a National Letter of Intent in February and expecting to be a member of the Class of 2013, three-star defensive tackle Jarran Reed (Scooba, MS) will not be joining the Florida Gators this season. Reed was hoping to obtain his associate degree from East Mississippi Community College in one year but fell about 25 credits short. Instead, he will continue playing for EMCC in 2013 with hopes of completing his coursework and departing before the spring semester starts…though he may no longer be heading to Florida. According to The Gainesville Sun, Reed has decided to reopen his recruitment but does have the Gators at the top. “Florida is my favorite school,” he said. “But at the same time, I don’t want to close any doors just in case something crazy happens. I’d like to go on [official] visits. Who doesn’t want to take free trips?”

» South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was honored Thursday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with the state of Florida’s Great Floridian Award, presented to him by Governor Rick Scott. Also in attendance were Gators head coach Will Muschamp and athletic director Jeremy Foley. Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow received the honor just one month ago. Check out the local news report by GTN’s Julie Quittner.

» Former Gators cheerleader Caroline Davidson, who concluded her run with the spirit program in 2010, had successful brain surgery to completely remove a tumor on Thursday. Her mother, Kimberly Davidson, posted on Facebook that Caroline was in ICU recovering after the surgery but all signs were positive.

Check out nine more interesting bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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