1 » Training camp for many NBA teams begins on Tuesday and there are currently 15 former Florida Gators on rosters with 12 assured of making the cut out of training camp this season. Guard Bradley Beal (Washington), forward Matt Bonner (San Antonio), F Corey Brewer (Minnesota), point guard Nick Calathes (Memphis), power forward Udonis Haslem (Miami), PF Al Horford (Atlanta), PF David Lee (Golden State), F Mike Miller (Cleveland), center Joakim Noah (Chicago), F Chandler Parsons (Dallas), PF Marreese Speights (Golden State) and C Patric Young (New Orleans) will all certainly find their way onto regular-season rosters. Also competing in training camp right now are PF Vernon Macklin (New Orleans), F Erik Murphy (Boston) and F Casey Prather (Phoenix). Murphy has barely played since being selected in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft and will be on his fourth team in just over one full season. Macklin and Prather both received non-guaranteed, league-minimum training camp contracts.
1 » Former Florida Gators forward Casey Prather has been given a second chance at latching on with an NBA team after agreeing to join the Phoenix Suns in training camp on a non-guaranteed contract. Phoenix currently has 13 guaranteed contracts on its roster as well as one open roster spot. Prather will be competing with veteran center Earl Barron for that job. After spending the month of July playing for the Atlanta Hawks during NBA Summer League games in Las Vegas, Nevada, Prather was not retained or signed by another team. He averaged 5.2 points and 2.2 rebounds in 20 minutes per game.
Both of Prather’s fellow undrafted teammates out of Florida, C Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin, have landed professional contracts. Young signed a two-year, $1.35 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans, while Wilbekin inked a deal with the Cairns Taipans of the Australian Basketball League.
1 » During an interview with the Boomer and Carton Show on WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, New York Jets wide receiver David Nelson was asked about former teammate Aaron Hernandez and whether he ever had an inkling that the former tight end was be capable of going off the rails. “You know, there was definitely some tendencies – I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t – but it was a huge surprise,” he said. “It really shocked me. Because this is a guy I saw get into a fight in practice and [he was] crying 15 minutes later because he had just hurt his teammate. So this was a guy who was extremely sensitive, he was extremely vulnerable, but the thing is, he was who he hung out with. So if he was hanging out with somebody he was very influenced.
Nelson corroborated what has been reported elsewhere, that members of the Florida Gators were worried about Hernandez going home to Connecticut and hanging out with his old crowd. He also noted that head coach Urban Meyer purposely put Hernandez around himself and Tim Tebow to help improve his character. “You saw some issues with him in college, but they were minor – some drug stuff and that was about it – but nothing to this extreme,” Nelson added. “So he started to hang out with the wrong crowd, get a lot of fame, a lot of money, start to get that ‘I can do whatever I want’ invincible kind of mentality a lot of NFL guys get. And I think you saw him make a really bad mistake.”
What is this?
This is something I have wanted to bring to OnlyGators.com for a while, a weekly column combining opinion, entertainment and information. Seeing as this is still the offseason – and today also happens to be my birthday – I felt there was no better time than the present to begin The Silver Lining, which will be posted every Wednesday right here on OnlyGators.com. The format may change as the concept develops, and suggestions are both respected and appreciated.
The “football school” tag was removed from the Florida Gators long ago, but it is nevertheless noteworthy how much of an impact head basketball coach Billy Donovan has made not just on the school but the NBA as well.
Consider this: On Tuesday, forward Chandler Parsons officially became the best-paid former Florida basketball player in school history (based on average salary) when he signed a three-year, $46 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks. He will earn $14.7 million next year, $15.4 million in 2015-16 and $16.1 million in 2016-17; the latter two salaries are the highest ever scheduled to be paid to a player out of UF.
Consider this, also: During the 2014-15 season, the Gators will have four players earning $12 million or more from their respective NBA teams including Parsons, Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee ($15.0 million), Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah ($12.2 million) and Atlanta Hawks F/C Al Horford ($12.0 million).
1 » According to multiple reports Sunday afternoon, 10-year NBA veteran F Matt Bonner will re-sign with the San Antonio Spurs. Bonner, who made nearly $4 million in 2013-14 – the final season of a four-year, $13.9 million contract he signed back in 2010 – will play his ninth-straight campaign with San Antonio once terms of the deal are finalized. On Saturday, Bonner was in his native Concord, New Hampshire; he brought the Larry O’Brien Trophy home to Rundlett Middle School for his annual summer basketball camp. “It means a lot to me to bring the trophy here to Concord,” Bonner told the Concord Monitor. “it’s very symbolic. I literally grew up a block from [Rundlett], right down on South Street. So now, at the age of 34, to have the NBA Championship trophy come here, it kind of brings it all full circle.”
2 » Former Florida Gators center Patric Young has played well thus far in a pair of NBA Summer League games with the New Orleans Pelicans in Las Vegas, Nevada. Coming off the bench in his first game on Friday, Young scored 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting with 13 rebounds in 19 minutes but did cough up three turnovers. On Sunday, Young earned a start at power forward, finishing +25 after playing a team-high 29 minutes. He was 5-for-6 from the field, scoring 10 points with six boars, a block and only one turnover. Neither point guard Scottie Wilbekin (Philadelphia 76ers) nor F Erik Murphy (Utah Jazz) impressed in their debuts. Forward Casey Prather did not see the court with the Atlanta Hawks in his first game but chipped in four points on 2-of-4 shooting with a rebound, two steals and a block in 20 minutes on Sunday.
1 » With LeBron James’s decision to return to Cleveland now made, the reverberations will be felt throughout the NBA with two former Florida Gators players likely to be immediately affected. Forward Chandler Parsons, a Houston Rockets restricted free agent who signed a three-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks on Thursday, now looks to be headed back to Houston. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Rockets now plan to match the Mavericks’ offer sheet. Houston must first compete trades to open up the necessary cap space to sign Chris Bosh; once Bosh has inked his deal, the Rockets can reacquire Parsons by using his Bird rights. A source told OnlyGators.com on Wednesday evening that Parsons preferred to continue his career in Dallas, though that same source told OnlyGators.com on Friday that Parsons is now very excited about the opportunity to play in a “Big Four” in Houston.
Update: Friday evening, Bosh spurned the Rockets and decided to remain with the Heat on a five-year, $118 million contract. How this affects Houston’s desire to match Parsons’s offer sheet with Dallas remains to be seen, though doing so would certainly eat into the Rockets’ potential 2015-16 cap space. Additionally, Parsons’s sheet includes an opt-out after year two as well as a 15 percent trade kicker.
2 » Also affected by James is F Mike Miller, who originally hoped to return to the Memphis Grizzlies to conclude his career. According to Wojnarowski, James reached out to Miller this week about potentially joining him in Cleveland. Miller is currently in negotiations with Memphis and the Denver Nuggets with teams like Oklahoma City also extremely interested in his services. He is seeking a three-year contract worth $4-5 million per season but could certainly accept a little less to reunite with James and potentially win more NBA titles before retirement.
Though no Florida Gators were selected in the 2014 NBA Draft on Thursday, it did not take long for two of the team’s most accomplished eligible players – center Patric Young and point guard Scottie Wilbekin – to receive opportunities to compete in the NBA Summer Leagues over the next few weeks.
Young, who was unanimously projected as an early second-round pick before surprisingly going undrafted, told OnlyGators.com on Friday afternoon that he has agreed to play for the New Orleans Pelicans from July 11-21 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The 2014 Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Young did not participate in a workout with the Pelicans but did visit with the team during the 2014 NBA Pre-Draft Combine back in May.
The first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs concluded on Sunday with only three of the 10 former Florida Gators in the postseason seeing their teams advance to the conference semifinals.
Former Gators were represented on eight of the 16 playoff teams with eight total players active (five starters, three reserves). Three of those five starters have been eliminated.
OnlyGators.com has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Florida players accomplished in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs.
* Players names highlighted in orange have advanced to the second round.
C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls: GP/GS (5/5), MIN (42.0), PPG (10.4), RPG (12.8), APG (4.6), SPG (1.0), BPG (1.4), TPG (3.8), FPG (3.8)
» Shooting: FG% (.512), 3P% (.000), FT% (.588)
» Highlights: Noah posted three double-doubles in five games led by a commanding 20 points and 12 boards in a two-point Game 2 home loss. He dealt with heavy defensive pressure throughout the series but nevertheless combined for 33 rebounds in the final two games of the series.
» Playoffs: The No. 4-seed Bulls fell in five games to the No. 5 Washington Wizards and were eliminated from postseason action.
F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors: GP/GS (7/7), MIN (31.1), PPG (13.9), RPG (9.1), APG (2.6), SPG (0.6), BPG (0.0), TPG (2.4), FPG (4.0), A/TO (1.1)
» Shooting: FG% (.532), 3P% (.000), FT% (.789)
» Highlights: Lee posted three double-doubles in the series though only one came in a victory as he put up 20 points and 13 rebounds in a series-opening road win. He went off for 18 points and 10 boards in Game 5 and saw lucky number 13 pop up in both points and boards as his team was knocked out of the playoffs in Game 7.
» Playoffs: The No. 6-seed Warriors lost in seven games to the No. 3-seed Los Angeles Clippers and were eliminated from postseason action.
F CHANDLER PARSONS, Houston Rockets: GP/GS (6/6), MIN (41.5), PPG (19.3), RPG (6.8), APG (2.3), SPG (0.7), BPG (0.3), TPG (0.8), FPG (3.2)
» Shooting: FG% (.438), 3P% (.361), FT% (.733)
» Highlights: Parsons scored in double figures in all six games and posted a double-double in the Game 6 finale but was most impressive in Game 4 when he scored 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting, drained 4-of-6 threes and hauled in eight rebounds in a 123-120 overtime loss. He nearly helped Houston stave off elimination in Game 6 with a last-second shot but saw a buzzer-beater negate his last-ditch efforts.
» Playoffs: The No. 4-seed Rockets lost in six games to the No. 5-seed Portland Trailblazers and were eliminated from postseason action.