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Cats in the NBA

Former Kentucky Players in the NBA

Marcus Lee signs deal with the Miami Heat

Twitter | @MiamiHEAT

Former Kentucky forward Marcus Lee will get a shot in the NBA down in Miami.

Lee signed with the Miami Heat today, according to the team’s official Twitter account. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, per club policy.

Lee played for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Summer League. He appeared in seven games (five starts) in Las Vegas with averages of 6.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.57 blocks in 15.9 minutes of action, while shooting 70 percent (21-of-30) from the field.

The former Kentucky Wildcat joins another former Wildcat, Bam Adebayo, in the Miami paint. The two could’ve been teammates in Lee’s senior season at UK, if not for his transfer to Cal.

Congrats, Marcus!


Eric Bledsoe Breaks Goal at Charity Basketball Game, Calls Out Boogie

Eric Bledsoe Breaks Goal at Charity Basketball Game, Calls Out Boogie

Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe has spent a good portion of his summer giving back to the community. Over the weekend, Bledsoe was giving away free backpacks filled with school supplies and shortly after he held a celebrity charity basketball event.

The game, which featured some former and current NBA players, is attached to his backpack giveaway sponsored by his organization, The Eric Bledsoe Foundation.

Bledsoe hosted the event and also participated in the game, but turned out to be a major cause for a delay in the action after he tossed an alley-oop off the backboard to himself, bringing down the entire goal in the process.

The six-foot-one point guard just “Shaq’d” a basketball goal. You might expect this from someone such as DeMarcus Cousins, not from the undersized guard who resembles more of a power running back than floor general.

Speaking of Cousins, Bledsoe invited Boogie to the event but not without taking a shot at his game-day attire. Cousins was sporting some admittedly dope Golden State Warriors shorts before Bledsoe told him to “take them weak a– shorts off!” followed by a friendly exchange of laughs.

I’ll take one pair of those shorts but with Kentucky written on them, please.


Doron Lamb Re-signs With BC Lavrio

(Jeff Gross | Getty Images)

Former Kentucky guard Doron Lamb recently resigned with his professional Greek team, BC Lavrio, according to the club.

Lamb played for BC Lavrio last season where he averaged 13.2 points and 2.6 assists per game in 14 total Greek league games. Known as a sharpshooter during his time at Kentucky, he shot 44.8 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game last season.

Lamb will also make his debut in the FIBA Europe Cup for the club this upcoming season. This will be his second season with the team. The deal will be for one year although the financial specifics have yet to be identified.

BC Lavrio finished with a record of 14-14 last season and placed sixth in the league.

Lamb has not played in the NBA since he was a member of the Orlando Magic during the 2013-14 season where he averaged 3.6 points 13.1 minutes per game across 53 total games.

At 26 years old, his dreams of playing in the NBA may be too far gone, but there is a chance he could thrive overseas and return for an NBA comeback a la Darius Miller. But still, Lamb has seemingly found a comfortable spot on a team that wants to keep him around. Eat, D. Lamb.


Aaron Harrison backs out of professional deal in Turkey

(Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images)

Former Kentucky guard Aaron Harrison had a deal in place with a Turkish professional team, but has reportedly backed out at the last minute.

Sportnado, a foreign sports outlet, reports Harrison will not play for Galatasaray as originally planned next season.

Harrison has played for the Charlotte Hornets and the Dallas Mavericks since entering the NBA as an undrafted free agent in 2015.

He finished last season with the Mavericks, where he averaged 6.7 points per game in nine games with the team. As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Harrison played for the Washington Wizards’ summer league team, but still unfortunately came away unemployed.

No word on whether or not Harrison will continue to pursue his NBA dreams or search for a professional team elsewhere.


BBNBA Notes on the NBA Schedule

BBNBA Notes on the NBA Schedule

(via NBA.com)

The NBA released the schedule for the upcoming 2018-19 season on Friday afternoon. The 73rd NBA season will begin on Oct. 16 and continue through April 10 with the All-Star break coming Feb. 15-17.

The NBA’s opening week will feature 11 nationally televised (ESPN, TNT, NBA TV) games through the first six days of the season.

After exploring each team’s schedule, I discovered plenty of notable dates that have something to do with Kentucky and some that are just interesting in general. Here’s what I found.

  • Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey will make his return to Toronto on Nov. 14 after the organization fired him in the offseason following his Toronto Raptors being swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
  • Washington Wizards guard Jodie Meeks should return from his 25-game suspension on Nov. 26 in a home game against the Houston Rockets and it will be broadcast on NBA TV.
  • Golden State Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins could possibly make his return to New Orleans on April 9, the second to last game of the season for the Warriors. The Warriors will host the Pelicans twice before then, but Cousins probably won’t be ready to play (Achilles) until the game in April.
  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Julius Randle’s first game against his former team the Los Angeles Lakers will be Dec. 21 on ESPN in New Orleans.
  • Here’s how the fresh rookies will begin their professional careers.
    • Kevin Knox: Oct. 17 vs. ATL (National TV debut – vs. IND Oct. 31 on ESPN).
    • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: Oct. 17 vs. DEN (National TV debut – vs. SAS Nov. 15 on TNT).
    • Jarred Vanderbilt: Timetable to return from injury is still unknown.
    • Hamidou Diallo: Oct. 16 @ GSW on TNT.

Some other notes about the general NBA schedule.

  • The number of back-to-back games is at an all-time low as the league continues to build off last season’s schedule by reducing travel time and limiting the number of consecutive games.

(via NBA.com)

  • The Los Angeles Lakers will be featured on national TV games (NBA TV, ESPN, TNT) more than any other team with 36 total appearances. The Golden State Warriors will have the second most at 34. The Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Philadelphia 76ers will all appear in 32 national TV games and the Boston Celtics are right behind them with 31 nationally televised games.
  • After losing LeBron James in free agency, the Cleveland Cavaliers – who appeared in 39 nationally televised games last season – will only be featured on national TV seven total times with five of them coming on NBA TV.

Below are the schedules for both the Opening Week and Christmas Day. Kevin Knox (Knicks), Eric Bledsoe (Bucks), Patrick Patterson (Thunder), Nerlens Noel (Thunder), Hamidou Diallo (Thunder), and Rajon Rondo (Lakers) will all be on your TV’s for Christmas Day.

(via NBA.com)

(via NBA.com)

*Why the NBA decided to allow the New York Knicks – who will likely be without Kristaps Porzingis as he continues to recover from an ACL tear and are also expected to be one of the five worst teams in the entire NBA – is beyond me. I guess just being New York has its advantages, however, and it’ll be awesome to see Kevin Knox while I ignore my family and watch basketball for 13 straight hours.*

There are several high profile games this upcoming season that will feature former Kentucky players, here are a few that piqued my interest.

  • The Phoenix Suns (Devin Booker, Brandon Knight) will take on the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 17 on ESPN. Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic will make his much anticipated NBA debut alongside second-year guard Dennis Smith Jr.
  • The Oklahoma City Thunder (Patrick Patterson, Nerlens Noel, Hamidou Diallo) will visit the Washington Wizards (John Wall, Jodie Meeks – suspended) on Nov. 2 on ESPN.
  • The Minnesota Timberwolves (Karl-Anthony Towns) will visit the New Orleans Pelicans (Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins) twice with both games being shown on ESPN (Nov. 14 and Feb. 8).
  • The Sacramento Kings (Willie Cauley-Stein, De’Aaron Fox, Skal Labissiere, Wenyen Gabriel?) will visit the Los Angeles Clippers (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) on Nov. 27 on TNT.
  • The Denver Nuggets (Jamal Murray, Trey Lyles, Jarred Vanderbilt) will take on the Minnesota Timberwolves (Towns) as they try to avenge last season’s loss on the very last game of the season that sent the Wolves to the playoffs and the Nuggets home. They will play each other four total times with the first being in Minnesota on Nov. 21 and the fourth meeting once again being the very last game of the season for both teams (April 10) with the game being televised on ESPN in Denver.

Other games of interest include:

  • LeBron James’ return to Cleveland will be on Nov. 21 on ESPN.
  • Kawhi Leonard’s return to San Antonio will be on Jan.3 on TNT.
  • There will be four total rematches of last season’s Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets; @ HOU on Nov. 21 (TNT) – @ GSW on Jan. 3 (TNT) – @ GSW on Feb. 23 (ABC) – @ HOU on March 13 (ESPN).

Follow me on Twitter: @ZackGeoghegan


Devin Booker listed as sleeper MVP candidate in 2018-19

AZCentral.com

Former Kentucky shooting guard Devin Booker is taking the NBA by storm. So much that he may be on his way to an MVP trophy.

The 6-foot-6 sharpshooter became just the 11th player to average over 24 points before turning 22 years old last season, joining the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and five other Hall of Famers.

And the accolades don’t stop there.

Booker is fourth in NBA history for 30-point games for 19-year-olds (or younger) with six, behind only James, Durant, and Carmelo Anthony. He was also the fourth youngest player in NBA history to score over 1,000 points in a season, behind only Durant, James, and Kobe Bryant.

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, Booker is an MVP sleeper pick for this season. 

“Booker should be noted here because he’s gotten better in each of his first three seasons by taking on a heavier workload while increasing his scoring efficiency,” O’Connor started. “If Booker keeps progressing, the 2018-19 season could be his breakout campaign.”

The former Wildcat has been compared to Klay Thompson from a pure shooting standpoint in the past, though O’Connor believes his ability to put the ball on the floor and create his own shot raises his ceiling even higher.

“Booker was projected as a pure shooting guard in the Klay Thompson mold after his freshman season at Kentucky, but he’s drastically improved his ball handling to become a more dynamic scorer,” he said. “He’s crafty once he gets in the lane, utilizing floaters and off-balance layups; and if a shot isn’t available, he’s a willing, capable passer.”

While current Kentucky guard Tyler Herro is currently drawing Booker comparisons, the Phoenix star is being compared to the 2017-18 MVP.

“The mold for Booker should be James Harden,” O’Connor said. “If the Suns space the floor and Booker runs a heavy dose of pick-and-roll, then he’ll naturally end up isolating against slower players on a switch, much like Harden does. Then it’s on Booker to finish the job.”

Still, though, O’Connor realizes it’s certainly a longshot considering the Phoenix Suns likely won’t be good next season, and maybe a year or two further after that.

“Booker is a deep-cut MVP candidate for good reason: The Suns probably won’t be very competitive, and they definitely won’t make the playoffs. Even if Booker has the season of his life, MVP winners are rarely ever on teams worse than a 3-seed,” he said.

He may not win it next year, but the fact that the 21-year-old former Wildcat is even in the conversation right now is impressive in itself. If he keeps progressing the way he has, don’t count him out for the most prestigious award in all of the NBA in the very near future.


Former Phoenix Suns teammates Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are both giving back to the communities that made them. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe Hosting Back to School Giveaways

Former Phoenix Suns teammates Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight are both giving back to the communities that made them. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Over the weekend, John Wall hosted his 5th annual backpack giveaway where he teamed up with his organization and several sponsors to help deliver free backpacks and school supplies to children ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade. Following suit are fellow Kentucky alums Eric Bledsoe of the Milwaukee Bucks and Brandon Knight of the Phoenix Suns.

Bledsoe will be hosting his 4th annual backpack giveaway on Aug. 11 at Railroad Park in his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. In partnership with his foundation – The Eric Bledsoe Foundation – Bledsoe will also be giving away 1,000 free backpacks filled with school supplies. There will also be food, free drinks and haircuts, bounce houses, and plenty more.

Bledsoe attended high school in Birmingham at Parker High School where he was a five-star recruit before committing to Kentucky.


Brandon Knight, in association with the Knight Management Group, will be hosting a similar event. The Back 2 School Backpack Bash will be held on Aug. 11 as well but in Knight’s home state of Florida. The event will be held in Margate, FL at Firefighters Park, a less than 30-minute drive from where Knight played his high school ball at Pine Crest School in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where he was a consensus top-10 recruit before committing to Kentucky.

The event includes free backpacks, food, haircuts, and a bounce house along with other giveaways (can’t hold an event for kids without a bounce house!).

Wall, Bledsoe, and Knight continue to prove their value as leaders of their communities and this year’s events are just fractional pieces of what they have done over the years in that regard. These are the types of players that make the Big Blue Nation proud to call one of their own. Congratulations to them.


NBA Handles Week Features Plenty of Familiar Faces

NBA Handles Week Features Plenty of Familiar Faces

As the sluggish NBA offseason inches by and the beginning of the regular season creeps closer and closer, the league is finding ways to keep interest high. The NBA has dubbed this past week #NBAHandlesWeek on Twitter, posting team and player highlights of the best crossovers, in-and-outs, and stepbacks of the 2017-18 season.

The NBA released their top 100 handles of the season through their Twitter account in batches of 20 – starting with 100-81 -and former Kentucky players occupied eight of those spots, including two in the top 15. 

Kyrie Irving dominated the list, making it six different times, including the number one overall spot. The list featured not only guards but several big men showing off their ball handling abilities. DeMarcus Cousins made the list twice and Anthony Davis also found himself in the top 15. Among the other former Kentucky players included in the countdown are Devin Booker (twice), De’Aaron Fox, John Wall, and Jamal Murray. Murray finished in the highest spot at No. 11 after absolutely crushing Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams and his poor ankles. Check them all out below.


For good measure, former Memphis player and John Calipari product, Tyreke Evans, also made the list at No. 53.