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Cats in the NBA

Former Kentucky Players in the NBA

Trey Lyles signs deal with San Antonio Spurs

Just three days after becoming an unrestricted free agent, former Kentucky forward Trey Lyles has found a new home.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Lyles will sign a two-year contract with the San Antonio Spurs.

Lyles, who has been with the Denver Nuggets the past two seasons, averaged 8.5 points (42% from the field and 25% from three), 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per contest in 2018-19. Coming off the bench in 2017-18, the former Wildcat put up career-highs in points (9.9) and rebounds (4.8) per game while shooting over 49 percent from the field.

The dip in production this past year came as a result of Paul Millsap, who played just 38 games the year before due to injury, returning to play 70 games this past season, along with the breakout play of Nikola Jokic, Torrey Craig, and Malik Beasley in the Denver frontcourt. After failing to find a consistent role on the team, and that opportunity still likely not available again next season, it was best for both parties to split.

Now, Gregg Popovich and the Spurs will look to revitalize Lyles’ career alongside fellow former Wildcat and San Antonio rookie Keldon Johnson.


Tyler Herro signs contract with the Miami Heat

© Brad Penner | USATSI

It took much longer than expected, but the Miami Heat have finally signed their first-round pick. Perhaps the most surprising one-and-done player of the John Calipari era is now officially ready to wreck South Beach. We all know his wardrobe will fit right in.

There was some scuttlebutt going around that made it appear that the Heat were waiting on a potential blockbuster trade for Russell Westbrook, but that appears to not be the case. The 13th overall pick in this year’s draft is lighting up the summer league and is fresh off a 25-point outburst. Through five games, he is putting up 20 points and dishing out four assists per outing. He is still a bucket, but is showing that there are other aspects to his game.

The Wisconsin native and four-star prospect started all 37 games for Kentucky last season and was the team’s second leading scorer at 14 points per game. The two-guard only shot 35.5 percent from three, but many expect that number to improve with spacing used at the next level.

When it comes to specifics of the deal, nothing has been finalized yet but Herro is about to become a wealthy man. If he sticks in Miami, he would provide much needed shooting to help space the floor for the newly acquired Jimmy Butler. Pretty good chance Herro develops into a fan favorite.


Could Tyler Herro already be on the move?

© Brad Penner | USATSI

While former Kentucky forwards PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson have already signed rookie deals with their respective organizations, Tyler Herro has yet to put pen-to-paper on his contract with the Miami Heat.

In fact, for the NBA Summer League, Herro signed insurance paperwork so he could play without worry of potential injury.

But why would the organization go through the gymnastics of letting him play during Summer League, but still not sign him to a deal?

It’s because he could be a prime asset in a blockbuster trade for NBA superstar Russell Westbrook.

This weekend, the Clippers swung a deal for Westbrook’s teammate, Paul George, allowing for George to team up with Kawhi Leonard in Los Angeles. Almost immediately afterward, Westbrook reportedly met with the Oklahoma City front office about moving him elsewhere, as well.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Miami was one of the first franchises to express interest in the Thunder point guard.

“The Miami Heat have expressed interest, a potential destination that also appeals to Westbrook,” Wojnarowski said. “Westbrook and his agent, Thad Foucher, have been discussing trade possibilities and scenarios with Presti, and the sides are both motivated to find a resolution sooner rather than later, league sources told ESPN.”

Today, Steve Kyler of BasketballInsiders.com said that there is absolutely a correlation between Herro not signing his rookie deal and the Westbrook trade rumors.

He did follow it up by saying that while Heat are keeping the former Wildcat unsigned to maintain trade flexibility, the talks are extremely early and that a deal centered around Westbrook and Herro has not been discussed specifically as of yet.

Through yesterday’s Summer League games, Herro is currently averaging 19.3 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 1.8 steals in 27.8 minutes per contest. While plenty of players have put up solid numbers at various times over the last week, the former Wildcat has far and away been one of the most consistently productive players in attendance.

While Pat Riley has been outspoken about how much he loves Herro’s game and looks forward to him playing in Miami, could the former Wildcat soon be trade bait for Oklahoma City?

If so, Herro could join Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Hamidou Diallo, Nerlens Noel, and Patrick Patterson with the Thunder, giving the team five former Kentucky players on the roster at the same time.

As much as we love the pairing of Herro and Bam Adebayo in Miami, I think we can all agree that seeing No. 14 in OKC would be pretty sweet.