2014-15 NBA season begins with 12 former Florida Gators spread across 11 teams

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.

STARTERS

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.

Continue Reading » 2014-15 NBA season begins with 12 former Florida Gators spread across 11 teams

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TWO BITS: Gators in NBA, Horford improving

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.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Gators in NBA, Horford improving

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TWO BITS: Haslem re-signs, Williams flips

1 » Former Florida Gators power forward Udonis Haslem re-signed with the Miami Heat on Friday. A three-time NBA Champion who has played his entire 11-year career with his hometown team, Haslem is Miami’s all-time leading rebounder and is the only undrafted player in league history to hold that mark with a franchise. “Udonis Haslem has been a fixture in Miami over the last 11 years,” team president Pat Riley said in a press release. “He’s a team player, an encompassing all-purpose player, that would play just about any position or role in order to win. It’s been such a privilege and honor to have him with the organization, and I’m so happy that he decided to come back.”

Haslem opted out of a $4.62 million player option to return to the Heat, doing so in hopes of providing the team with enough flexibility to re-sign its star players, including LeBron James. Once again leaving money on the table, his new contract is for two years and approximately $5.59 million, according to The Miami Herald‘s Jeff Goodman. As he is set to earn $2.73 million for the 2014-15 season, Haslem has now passed on a total of nearly $16 million in his career in order to remain with Miami.

2 » Seven months after three-star defensive back Deontai Williams (Jacksonville, FL) became the program’s only 2015 commitment, the self-described life-long Gators fan has flipped his pledge to the Georgia Bulldogs. According to 247 Sports’ of Rusty Mansell and Rivals affiliate UGASports.com, Williams is now Georgia’s 15th pledge for the recruiting cycle. Florida is subsequently down to just nine commitments.

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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.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: NBA Draft, Haslem, Parsons, Noah

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SIX BITS: Easley, Parsons, Beisel, Gilbert, Haslem

1 » New England Patriots defensive tackle Dominique Easley is one of seven first-round selections in the 2014 NFL Draft who has not yet signed with his team. According to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, Easley and the Patriots are haggling over injury language in his contract, a sensible hangup considering he is coming off of a college career in which he suffered two torn ACLs. Easley also made the news last week for spending a weekend this month at a football camp held at Princeton by Dallas Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett. Easley, as it turns out, attended the camp five years ago and wanted to give back. “The Easley story is a really good story,” Garrett told the Dallas Morning News. “He’s talked to the kids, and when he stands up there as the 29th pick of the first round and says, ‘I sat in that seat five years ago, so don’t tell me that you can’t do this.'” As it turns out, he’s pretty successful at the camp as the paper notes he won the team football event both as a player and in his first year as a coach.

2 » If you want to hear Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons discuss fashion for 17 minutes, you can do so by checking out the video below.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Easley, Parsons, Beisel, Gilbert, Haslem

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Gators in the 2014 NBA Finals: Bonner wins

For the fourth-straight season and sixth time since 2006, at least one former Florida Gators basketball player has ended an NBA season as a champion as the San Antonio Spurs knocked off the Miami Heat 4-1 in the 2014 NBA Finals on Sunday night.

With San Antonio winning the finals for the first time since 2007, forward Matt Bonner captured his second ring (2007, 2014). Miami power forward Udonis Haslem was looking for his fourth ring (2006, 2012-13) but ultimately came up short.

A grand total of nine rings have been won by Gators since 2006.

F MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: GP/GS (4/0), MIN (6.8), PPG (1.3), RPG (0.8), APG (1.3), SPG (0.0), BPG (0.0), TPG (0.0), FPG (0.5)
» Shooting: FG% (1.000), 3P% (.333), FT% (.750)
» Notes: Bonner did not play in Game 1 and only saw one minute of action in Game 2. He averaged 6.8 minutes off the bench in the final three games, all Spurs blowout wins.

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: GP/GS (4/0), MIN (3.3), PPG (1.0), RPG (1.3), APG (0.3), SPG (0.0), BPG (0.3), TPG (0.0), FPG (0.8)
» Shooting: FG% (.400), 3P% (.000), FT% (.000)
» Notes: Haslem did not play in Game 1 and only saw one minute of action in Game 2. He only played 3.3 minutes off the bench in the Heat’s three series-ending losses.


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FOUR BITS: Bostic, Prather, hidden ball trick

1 » Chicago Bears linebacker Jon Bostic did not have the easiest rookie season as he was thrust into a starting role before he was truly ready for it due to an injury suffered by veteran D.J. Williams. Bostic showed his inexperience (on the NFL level) at middle linebacker and struggled at times during the season, so much so that with Williams set to return, Bostic was moved to strong side linebacker where he was set to compete for the starting gig this offseason. However, according to John Mullin of CSN Chicago, Bostic has been splitting time with Williams as the first-team middle linebacker during organized team activities and is “making a strong impression” in the early going. “Bostic has significantly raised the stakes [of the starting competition] despite training camp not starting until late July,” wrote Mullin. “Bostic is generally considered to have the most pure explosive, sudden speed of all the linebackers [on the roster].”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Bostic, Prather, hidden ball trick

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Gators in the 2014 NBA Playoffs: Conference

The Conference Finals of the 2014 NBA Playoffs concluded on Saturday with both of the two former Florida Gators remaining in the postseason seeing their teams advance to the NBA Finals

Former Gators were represented on two of the four teams in the conference finals with both moving on to compete for an NBA Championship.

OnlyGators.com has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Florida players accomplished in this round.

* Players names highlighted in orange have advanced to the NBA Finals.

PF UDONIS HASLEM, Miami Heat: GP/GS (6/2), MIN (13.2), PPG (4.3), RPG (2.8), APG (0.3), SPG (0.0), BPG (0.0), TPG (0.0), FPG (2.2)
» Shooting: FG% (.611), 3P% (.000), FT% (.500)
» Playoffs: The No. 2 Heat defeated the No. 1 Indiana Pacers in six games.

F MATT BONNER, San Antonio Spurs: GP/GS (6/2), MIN (10.5), PPG (2.3), RPG (1.5), APG (0.8), SPG (0.0), BPG (0.2), TPG (0.2), FPG (1.2)
» Shooting: FG% (.313), 3P% (.333), FT% (.000)
» Notes: Bonner played more than 15 minutes per game in the final three contests of the series, starting the final two. He went 5-for-10 from the field and 4-for-8 from three in those games.
» Playoffs: The No. 1 Spurs defeated the No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder in six games.

NOTES
» A former Gators basketball player is guaranteed to win an NBA title for the fourth-straight year and sixth time since 2000.
» Haslem is looking to three-peat and capture his fourth career title (2006, 2012-13), while Bonner is hoping to win his second NBA crown (2007).

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