1 » The New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday waived former Florida Gators center Patric Young, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent this summer. Young inked a two-year deal with New Orleans after impressing Pelicans officials during the NBA Summer League. He was guaranteed an invitation to New Orleans training camp and earned his way onto the team’s regular-season roster from there. It is unknown why specifically the Pelicans decided to waive Young, who was on the active roster on Saturday but has yet to get an opportunity to play in a regular-season game. There were a number of teams interested in Young’s services following the 2014 NBA Draft, so it would not be a surprise to see him get another chance elsewhere in the near future.
The 2014-15 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night with 12 former Florida Gators on active rosters, tied with Arizona for sixth-most across the league.
Those players are spread out over 11 teams with only the Golden State Warriors employing more than one former Gators star on their roster.
Below is a primer on all 12 Florida players (five starters, seven reserves) ahead of the 2014-15 season.
C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 9 overall pick
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 232 lbs.
Year: Eighth | All-Star: Twice (2013-14)
Already a popular player and stalwart in Chicago, Noah broke through during his seventh season to capture the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and earn nominations to the All-NBA First Team and NBA All-Defensive First Team. He averaged career-highs of 12.6 points, 11.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.2 steals, earning a trip to his second-straight All-Star game in the process. One year after becoming the seventh player in NBA history to record a triple-double with double-digit blocks, Noah became just the fourth center in NBA history to register four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season. He was also the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four in a single season. Noah enters the 2014-15 campaign coming off knee surgery and is expected to be limited at times during the season.
PF/C AL HORFORD, Atlanta Hawks
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 3 overall pick
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 250 lbs.
Year: Eighth | All-Star: Twice (2010-11)
One of the most underrated players in the league, due in large part to his team (Atlanta) and in ability to stay on the court, Horford has become the Hawks’ unquestioned leader and go-to player. In just 29 games last season, the second in three that has been cut short early due to a torn pectoral, Horford averaged a career-high 18.6 points per game on a career-best .567 shooting. Though he has not been selected to an NBA All-Star team since 2001, Horford plans to make his way back this year with his eyes set on a 20-10 average.
1 » Waiving two players on Friday, the New Orleans Pelicans whittled their roster down to 15 ahead of the start of the 2014-15 NBA season. Former Florida Gators center Patric Young, an undrafted free agent who was picked up by New Orleans and impressed during training camp, continued to flash during preseason action and earned a spot on the Pelicans’ regular-season roster. Young will be New Orleans’ fourth center (behind Omer Asik, Alexis Ajinca and Jeff Withey) but may be able to work his way up the depth chart if he continues giving tremendous effort like he did last Thursday. On the floor as the clock ticked down against Dallas, Young slammed home a dunk with 2.1 seconds remaining to help his team pull out an 88-85 victory. “As far as having another guy that can come off the bench and doesn’t need the ball in his hands, I think I can step into that role right away,” he told The Times-Picayune. “My goal is just to come here with a great attitude and stay humble. I’m going to chase after rebounds with the mentality of, ‘If I don’t get this rebound then I’m out the league.’ It may be a little extreme, but I want it more than the next guy.”
2 » Former Gators C Joakim Noah has been the straw that stirs the drink for the Chicago Bulls for the last few seasons, but his body has held him back on numerous occasions. A multitude of injuries, primarily to his lower body, have either kept Noah off the court or – more often – forced him to play through pain that most players would not. With another NBA slate starting Tuesday, Noah admitted through gritted teeth that he “still ha[s] a ways to go” in recovering from left knee surgery. “It’s fine. It’s a work in progress. It’s getting better. I’m happy with where it’s at. Let me live, man. Geez,” he told the Chicago Sun-Times, trying to keep his situation close to the vest. A source close to Noah told the paper that his “knee is going to be an issue all season long,” and the Bulls appear prepared to limit his minutes on a game-by-game basis. “There’s a plan,” Noah explained. “We take it day by day and se how it feels, see if there are any setbacks.”
1 » Florida Gators redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel reportedly missed at least some portion of practice ahead of the Missouri game while dealing with a right ankle injury, which became more apparent last Saturday when his ankle was heavily taped before the contest. Driskel also hardly ran the ball in the game, just one week after carrying it 21 times. While it is currently unknown whether the still-imploding Driskel will get the start against Georgia on Nov. 1 – head coach Will Muschamp may address that very topic during his only media appearance of the week, the SEC teleconference on Wednesday – it looks like he is still missing some practice time.
OnlyGators.com reader Jeremy sent in the following photo, which he snapped Tuesday on his way to the Stephen C. O’Connell Center for an event. In the photo below, freshmen Treon Harris and Will Grier (dressed in full pads) are leading the pack of quarterbacks out to the practice field while Driskel is bringing up the rear, holding his helmet but neither wearing pads nor football pants.
I was taking my kids to see Sesame Street Live at the O’Dome tonight. When we parked, we noticed the football team going to the practice field. The players were upbeat and giving my kids high-fives. Then the quarterbacks walked by. Treon Harris and Will Grier led the way and looked focused. Driskel was at the back. No pads, no pants. He looked like a player who wasn’t practicing. Muschamp walked by, smiled and looked like a beaten soul.
1 » Former Florida Gators center Patric Young is playing his first NBA preseason with the New Orleans Pelicans and is already dropping some highlights. On Monday, New Orleans fell 93-87 to Atlanta, but not before Young could deliver this put-back dunk (skip to 1:35). Young finished the contest with four points and four boards in 11:20. Against Miami in his team’s preseason opener, Young made his only field goal, scoringtwo points to go along with eight rebounds, a block and two turnovers in 21 minutes.
2 » Also on Monday, Chicago Bulls C Joakim Noah got into a heated exchange with Washington’s Paul Pierce during their teams’ preseason game. Noah was relatively calm about the situation until Pierce stuck his pointer finger into Noah’s forehead. Coming back from knee surgery, Noah looked even less fluid than normal during the game and is expected to skip Tuesday’s contest as a precaution.
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 Erik Murphy, who was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers just this offseason, will be shipped from Cleveland to the Boston Celtics as part of a four-player deal that results in the Cavs acquiring F Keith Bogans. ESPN.com‘s Marc Stein and Jeff Goodman reported the deal Thursday evening. As a result of the move, Murphy will be on his fourth NBA franchise before the start of his second professional season. He was selected with the No. 49 overall pick in the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls but saw just 2.6 minutes per game in 24 contests before the team waived him on April 3. Two days later, the Utah Jazz claimed Murphy, but he never suited up for the franchise. On July 22, Utah shipped Murphy and two other players to Cleveland for a 2015 second-round draft selection and cash. Murphy spent the summer playing for Finland in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. He averaged 6.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, shooting 38.7 percent from the field, 27.3 percent from downtown and 63.6 percent from the charity stripe. The good news for Murphy? The Rhode Island native played high school basketball in Southborough, Massachusetts, and grew up a Celtics fan.
1 » Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley took head coach Will Muschamp/s place during the weekly WCA Gator Hotline Show, which airs on Thursday evenings during football season. (In fact, Muschamp will only appear on the program five of the 12 times it airs in 2014.) Anyway, Foley answered a number of phone calls during the program, including one in particular from a voice that sounded oddly familiar. “Bill from Gainesville” jumped on the air to praise Foley for the job he was doing, suggesting that he should permanently sit in for Muschamp on the program. He then took a jab at Foley’s favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, before jumping off the air. With no attempt made to disguise his voice, “Bill from Gainesville” was quite obviously Muschamp himself having some fun with his boss. Check out the audio below.