FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Haslem, Wright, Hodskins

1 » His behavior in the Jonathan Martin bullying scandal taken into consideration, former Florida Gators center Mike Pouncey remains in the Miami Dolphins future plans, according to the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, who reported Friday that the team is “committed” to Pouncey and plans in May to pick up a team option to keep him in Miami for a fifth season in 2015. Pouncey is set to earn $1.63 million in 2014 and will likely want to renegotiate his contract after the Dolphins pick up their option. This in theory would give the team a full season to evaluate Pouncey’s behavior off of the field and give them more data to decide whether or not signing him to a huge deal would be a wise long-term investment. “Pouncey is an excellent player,” new Miami general manager Dennis Hickey said on the radio Thursday. “I’ve had good conversations with him in the last month. I’m excited about the future.”

2 » Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem is playing the fewest minutes of his career, shooting career-lows from the field and charity stripe and barely making an impact on the court for the defending champions, but his selflessness, relationship with the franchise and impact in the locker room all kept him off the trading block this season. According to Dan LeBatard, Miami rejected a trade offer from Philadelphia that included Evan Turner even though Turner would have been able to give the Heat an extra scorer off the bench, help their title chances this season and save the team $4.62 million against the luxury cap next season. By doing so, Miami is showing considerable loyalty to Haslem, who sacrificed more than $10 million in salary as a free agent in 2010 to sign with his hometown team (where he has played since 2003) rather than move elsewhere. The undrafted free agent out of Florida is a three-time NBA champion with the Heat (2006, 2012-13) and Miami’s all-time leading rebounder.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Haslem, Wright, Hodskins

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2013-14 NBA season begins with 12 Florida Gators spread across nine league rosters

The 2013-14 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night with 12 former Florida Gators on active rosters across the league.

Those players are spread out over nine teams with the Chicago Bulls, Golden State Warriors and Memphis Grizzlies each employing a pair of Gators on their respective squad.

Below is a preview of all 12 Florida players to kick off the 2013-14 season.

STARTERS

F/C DAVID LEE, Golden State Warriors
Drafted: 2005: 1st round, No. 30 overall pick (New York)
Height: 6’9” | Weight: 240 lbs.
Year: Ninth | All-Star: Twice

Since joining the Warriors in 2010-11, Lee has continued to display the dominant scoring ability he initially showcased as a member of the Knicks. He averaged 18.5 points, 11.2 boards and 3.5 dimes last year on the way to being chosen for his second All-Star game in four seasons. Lee tore his right hip flexor during Golden State’s first playoff game but remained on the active roster and even saw limited playing time during the rest of the series despite suffering an injury that would have immediately sidelined most players.

F/C AL HORFORD, Atlanta Hawks
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 3 overall pick
Height: 6’10” | Weight: 250 lbs.
Year: Seventh | All-Star: Twice

Horford was selected to be a big part of Atlanta’s puzzle. As he has developed (while the talented roster around him has simultaneously disappeared), he’s become the unquestioned team leader and go-to player. Horford averaged career-highs of 17.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals while playing a career-most 37.2 minutes per game last season but has not been selected as an NBA All-Star since 2011. He is currently dealing with a hamstring injury and is listed as day-to-day.

C JOAKIM NOAH, Chicago Bulls
Drafted: 2007: 1st round, No. 9 overall pick
Height: 6’11” | Weight: 232 lbs.
Year: Seventh | All-Star: Once

Noah has become one of the premier defenders in the NBA while improving his overall game on a year-to-year basis. He averaged career-highs of 11.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.2 steals in a career-most 36.8 minutes per game last season. He also put together his best professional game with career marks of 30 points and 23 rebounds against Detroit on Dec. 7, 2012. For his efforts, Noah was selected to his first All-Star game. Later in the season, he recorded the third triple double of his career; his career-high 11 blocked matched Artis Gilmore’s franchise record and made him just the seventh player in NBA history to record a triple-double with double-digit blocks. Noah dealt with plantar fasciitis all season but played for Chicago in the playoffs; he is finally over that ailment but now dealing with an injured groin.

Continue Reading » 2013-14 NBA season begins with 12 Florida Gators spread across nine league rosters

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FOUR BITS: Easley, Purifoy, Haslem, Young

1 » Florida Gators defensive lineman Dominique Easley has looked outstanding through his team’s first two games but is he actually the “most dominant defensive player in college football through the first two weeks” of the season? That’s what ESPN analyst Todd McShay believes. McShay ranked Easley 29th on his list of the top 32 draft-eligible prospects available ($), noting that his “ability to penetrate and disrupt opposing backfields is really improving.” Easley is not the only Florida defender on McShay’s list, however, as junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy checked in at No. 20, dropping 12 spots from No. 8 because he looked ‘inconsistent” against Miami and “whether he can develop as a cornerback and refine his cover skills and technique at the position” is yet to be determined. Like Easley, junior CB Marcus Roberson jumped onto the list after being unranked, checking in at No. 32. Mel Kiper, Jr. has Purifoy ranked 10th on his Big Board but does not have Easley or Roberson listed.

2 » Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem got married to the love of his life, Faith Rein, in late August in a wedding ceremony that was 14 years in the making. The New York Times’ Linda Marx profiled the love affair between the two, which took a while to get started and included a number of obstacles including an abortion, Haslem playing basketball in Europe – “she said we would have lived forever in Europe if that was our fate” – and the two working in Florida and New York, respectively, after Haslem returned to the states. Following Rein moving to South Florida and berthing two children, the death of Haslem’s mother and permission from Rein’s father, he asked and she said yes. Read the entire heart-warming story by clicking here.

Check out two Florida Gators VIDEO BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Easley, Purifoy, Haslem, Young

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13 Gator Bites for Tuesday, August 13

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.

» Over the last few days, some new NCAA-related products have been announced including scented candles from Yankee Candle and JELL-O with a jigglers mold kit. Both companies are offering versions featuring the Florida Gators, as you can see below. Pictures via Darren Rovell (ESPN) and Andrew Giangola (IMG)

» A new company has been started specifically to sell “collegiate fragrances.”

» The only Gators basketball player on ESPN insider Chad Ford’s first Big Board ($) for the 2014 NBA Draft is not even currently enrolled at Florida. Five-star forward Chris Walker (Bonifay, FL), who is hoping to be cleared by the NCAA in time for the spring semester, is descried as an “upside player” who is “blessed with elite athletic abilities and length.” Ford believes Walker will need to make the transition from the four to the three and play small forward in the professional ranks.

» Florida mic’d up new defensive line coach Brad Lawing during a practice last week. Scott Carter of UF’s website also wrote an interesting feature (Q&A included) on Lawing and how he is bringing “old-school ways to new adventure.”

Check out NINE more bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 13 Gator Bites for Tuesday, August 13

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SIX VIDEO BITS: Gators, Bates, Spurrier, Muschamp, Embree, Easley, Williams

1 » Florida Gators football released this 2013 season promo. It’s quite good.

2 » Former Gators linebacker James Bates impersonates and tells stories about former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier. Bates was recently hired as a college football analyst by FOX Sports for the new FOX Sports 1 channel.

Check out four more Gators videos…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX VIDEO BITS: Gators, Bates, Spurrier, Muschamp, Embree, Easley, Williams

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Mike Miller set to sign with Memphis Grizzlies

Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller, holding offers from some of the best teams in the Western Conference, chose to end his free agency process on Wednesday when he committed to sign a two-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies.

According to ESPN’s Marc Stein, who cited multiple sources, Miller will ink a two-year contract with Memphis that is likely to include a player option for the second year.

Miller returning to the Grizzlies will be somewhat of a homecoming for the sharpshooter. He played in Memphis for six seasons from 2002-08 (the longest stretch of his career in one location) and stills owns a home in the city.

The Miami Heat signed Miller to a five-year, $29 million deal three years ago. He won back-to-back NBA titles with the team and shot 61 percent from downtown in the 2013 NBA Finals but was waived via the amnesty clause so the franchise could save nearly $40 million in salary and luxury tax over the next two seasons.

Miller, who averaged 4.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists while shooting 41.7 percent from three last season, officially became a free agent last Thursday when he cleared amnesty waivers.

Oklahoma City was the first team to pursue Miller, but Denver, Golden State, Houston and San Antonio also reportedly expressed their interest in signing the 13-year veteran.

He will still earn the full $12.8 million remaining on his Heat contract in addition to whatever amount he eventually signs for with the Grizzlies.

Miller, 33, is the second former Florida player acquired by Memphis this week as the Grizzlies traded future draft considerations to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday for the draft rights to point guard Nick Calathes.

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SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

1 » Former Florida Gators guard Mike Miller cleared amnesty waivers on Thursday and officially became a free agent but may have already decided on his next stop. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, the Oklahoma City Thunder are “frontrunners” to sign Miller and plan to meet with him on Friday in Miami, FL. Though Miller does want to play for a contender, the most the Thunder can offer him is the veteran’s minimum of $1.4 million. No team bid on Miller during the waiver process because he has considered having back surgery this offseason. Because he passed through waivers, he will earn the full $12.8 million remaining on his Miami Heat contract in addition to whatever deal he agrees to sign with a new team. That is one reason why he may decide to accept a veteran’s minimum contract over a slightly more lucrative deal from another franchise. Others reportedly in contention for Miller’s services are one of his former teams, Memphis, along with Houston, Golden State and San Antonio.

Miami thanked Miller for his three years of service with this full-page newspaper advertisement in Thursday’s South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

2 » Florida head coach Will Muschamp will join the 13 other Southeastern Conference coaches by participating in ESPN’s “Car Wash” from July 22-23 in Bristol, CT, the network announced on Thursday. Muschamp will be featured on the second day of the festivities from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. OnlyGators.com will have a live blog and full coverage of Muschamp going through the ringer on Tuesday.

3 » Gators four-star 2014 commitment G Brandone Francis (Jacksonville, FL) was a big get for a team looking to add some major scoring talent. A native of the Dominican Republic like former Florida big man Al Horford, Francis told Scarberry Media’s Zach Fleer that the Atlanta Hawks center played a big role in his pledge. “I grew up watching Florida play because of him, you know?” Francis said. “I just fell in love with the school and now knowing that I’m going to wear that jersey, [it] means more than one feeling to me.” He also Gator Chomps after good baskets (see below).

Check out three more Florida Gators news BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miller, Francis, Chiozza, Tebow, Demps

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FOUR BITS: Miller, Murphy, Donovan, Parsons

1 » The Miami Heat officially announced Tuesday that the team has decided to use the amnesty provision on guard Mike Miller, waiving the remaining two years and $12.8 million of his contract in order to save approximately $17 million on the team’s luxury tax bill in 2013-14. Miller, who will earn every penny of his $12.8 million whether another team bids on him during the wavier period or not, is now without a team but does not plan to quit playing basketball. “I’m excited about the next spot. I’m re-energized. I really am,” he told the Sun-Sentinel on Tuesday. “I’m just feeling healthy. I’m ready to play. I started [to] get back in there again last week and I can’t wait to play next year.” Entering his 14th NBA season, Miller has not played more than 20 minutes per game in two years. After posting double-digit scoring averages in nine of his first 10 seasons, Miller has not scored more than 6.1 points per game since 2009-10. His best chance of continuing his career is as a reserve with a contender looking for a three-point shooter.

2 » Chicago Bulls forward Erik Murphy has gone through his share of ups and downs already while in Las Vegas, NV, competing in NBA Summer League action. Murphy went 0-for-6 from three in his first game, picking up 10 fouls and therefore fouling out in under 19 minutes, but responded by going 4-for-5 from beyond the arc for 18 points (and committing seven more fouls) in the second game. His hot shooting continued Tuesday as Murphy was 2-for-3 from the perimeter (with no fouls) when he was forced to leave the game after breaking his nose. It was actually the second time this week that Murphy broke his nose as he told OnlyGators.com late Tuesday night that it previously happened during practice a few days earlier. He hopes to continue playing in summer league games but will do as instructed by team trainers.

Also on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan spoke with the Bulls’ team website about Murphy and explained how he can fit in with the team. You can read the entire story by clicking here.

“The one thing about Erik is that when he’s on the floor, offensively he immediately provides spacing for your team because you have to account for him behind the line. Obviously [Derrick] Rose is as good of a player in the backcourt as any player in the league. He’s a great penetrator, so the more space he can play in, the better off he is going to be.

“Erik is not Taj Gibson or Joakim Noah; he’s different and he brings something different to the table. He’s a pick-and-pop guy, someone you can space behind the line. He’s a guy you can run pick and roll with and he’ll put some teams into dilemmas because they can’t switch on him and put their power forward on someone like Rose.”

Watch two Florida Gators VIDEO BITS…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Miller, Murphy, Donovan, Parsons

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