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.

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 6

Looking for more gold in Cleveland

Giving up more money, more years and a starting role, former Florida Gators forward Mike Miller officially inked a two-year contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday, returning to the side of LeBron James for the second time in his career.

Miller will continue his career at a rate of $5.6 million with the Cavaliers. Cleveland gave the 34-year-old a player option for the 2015-16 season for the second year of that deal as well as a 15 percent trade kicker should it try to move him.

A two-time NBA Champion, the 2001 NBA Rookie of the Year and 2006 NBA Sixth Man of the Year has put together an exceedingly successful career since being selected with the No. 5 overall pick in the 2000 NBA Draft by the Orlando Magic. In fact, he may very well be the most successful former Gators player in NBA history when his total list of accomplishments is taken into account.

Now with his sixth team, Miller will spend his fourth season next to James. During the first nine seasons of his career, Miller’s teams won just 46.2 percent of their games; however, over the last four, he’s been winning games at a 68.3 percent clip. Miller no doubt expects that that trend to continue with the Cavaliers.

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4 BITS: Miller, Pounceys, Calathes, SEC Network

1 » Former Florida Gators forward Mike Miller, after struggling with his decision for nearly a week, has decided to continue his 15-year career alongside LeBron James with the Cleveland Cavaliers. According to ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard and Jeff Goodman, Miller will sign a two-year deal, $5.5 million with the Cavaliers with a player option after the first season. He chose Cleveland and the ability to chase championships with James over Houston and a better monetary offer from Denver after originally seeking a three-year deal worth $12-15 million. Miller will be joining his sixth NBA team following two stints with the Memphis Grizzlies and one each with Orlando, Minnesota, Washington and Miami. Last season, he averaged 7.1 points in 20.8 minutes per game while shooting 45.9 percent from beyond the arc.

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FOUR BITS: Bonner, Young, Miller, Lee

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.


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FOUR BITS: Parsons, Miller, Summer Leagues

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.

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TWO BITS: Parsons and Miller finding homes

1 » Signing his three-year, $46 million offer sheet with the Dallas Mavericks early Thursday morning, former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons ensured he will be well paid over the next few seasons of his career. Which team will be paying him, however, remains to be seen. As a restricted free agent under the control of the Houston Rockets, Parsons could wind up back in Houston if the team chooses to match the sheet he signed with Dallas. A report Thursday from the Houston Chronicle‘s Jonathan Feigen noted that the Rockets plan to match Parsons’s offer sheet from the Mavericks as long as the franchise can get free agent Chris Bosh signed as well.

If not, Houston appears to be willing to let Parsons go…if it can get something in return; the team’s concern is Parsons eating up otherwise available 2015-16 cap space. Dallas general manager Donnie Nelson told reporters Thursday afternoon that the Mavericks and Rockets are engaged in sign-and-trade conversations, which explains why Dallas has not yet submitted Parsons’s offer sheet to Houston. In a sign-and-trade scenario, the Rockets would accept the terms of the deal and ship him out for compensation, likely players and draft picks. Once the Mavericks make that move, Houston will have 72 hours to either sign Parsons to the same deal or allow Dallas to sign him outright. Update: At approximately 3 p.m. on Thursday, the Mavericks sent the signed offer sheet to the Rockets, giving Houston until Sunday at 3 p.m. to match Dallas’s deal.

A source close to the situation told OnlyGators.com exclusively Wednesday night that Parsons hopes to play for the Mavericks, not the Rockets, next season.

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SIX BITS: SEC Network, Roper, Mincey, Wilbekin

1 » ESPN announced on Wednesday that it has reached a deal with Cox Communications for the cable operator to carry the SEC Network at its launch on Aug. 14, 2014. This is great news for Florida Gators fans, which can now be sure that they will be able to watch their team on the city’s biggest provider. Cox Cable is available to fans in five of the 11 states that host Southeastern Conference teams. With AT&T U-verse, DISH Network and Google Fiber on board, now Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon FIOS and DirecTV remain as the major operators not currently signed on with the SEC Network for launch. However, AT&T’s proposed purchase of DirecTV could make that agreement easier, and the merger between Comcast and Time Warner makes it likely that one of those dominoes will fall soon after the other as Comcast appears to be the next in line to make a deal with the World Wide Leader in Sports. Company spokesman John Demming claims that Comcast and ESPN are “working out final details” for the network with an agreement expected to be announced “in the near future.”


Continue Reading » SIX BITS: SEC Network, Roper, Mincey, Wilbekin

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FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Miller, Easley, Big Brother

1 » Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin was placed in the starting lineup for the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday but posted just two points on 1-of-4 shooting with two assists, a rebound, a steal and a turnover in 21 minutes. In his first action on Saturday, Wilbekin had a game-high five assists (all in a seven-minute span in the first half) and finished +14 on the afternoon. Below is the rest of the Orlando schedule; all games air live nationally on NBA TV.

Monday, July 7 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Vernon Macklin) vs. Houston
Tuesday, July 8 at 3 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Memphis (Wilbekin)
Thursday, July 10 at 5 p.m. – Orlando (Macklin) vs. Boston
Thursday, July 10 at 7 p.m. – Memphis (Wilbekin) vs. Houston

2 » According to ESPN 92.9 FM out of Denver, Colorado, the Denver Nuggets brought in guard/forward Mike Miller for a meeting on Sunday. Miller, who wants to end his career with the Grizzlies but appears to have reached a bit of an impasse with the franchise, is also drawing interest from Houston, Oklahoma City and Portland. The station reports that the first offer from the Grizzlies was for two years at $5-6 million total, though Miller is said to be looking for about $12 million over three seasons.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Wilbekin, Miller, Easley, Big Brother

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