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Former Kentucky players in the G League could join the NBA’s return to action

(Photo Credit: Garrett Ellwood)

(Photo Credit: Garrett Ellwood)

Friday’s news didn’t bring much optimism in terms of the NBA’s potential return to the 2019-20 season. There are reportedly players who are upset with how the league has gone through the process of attempting to restart the season and some of them are still torn as to whether or not they should participate in the “bubble” concept located in Walt Disney World.

Each NBA franchise is permitted to bring a total of 17 players down to Orlando, including 14-15 players on standard contracts and two additional players who are on two-way deals. Teams can use two-way players to fill any holes in the roster, as the Brooklyn Nets are expected to do, as they’ll need to replace the injured Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Rosters will slim down to 15 once the playoffs begin.

Injuries aside, there’s a possibility that players will decline a trip to the bubble if it’s in the best interest of their safety. There is also the chance that a player contracts the coronavirus while in the bubble and is forced into quarantine. In any case, the need for having backup players on hand could be vital in the event of an injury or positive test.

With that being said, the NBA will allow teams to sign anybody who has played in the G League this past season. We wrote on the site yesterday how DeMarcus Cousins could potentially make his return after suffering an ACL injury last August, but we haven’t touched on the players in the developmental league that could receive an unprecedented shot.

ESPN’s Kevin Pelton wrote about one former Wildcat, in particular, who could make a surprise splash by signing with an NBA team: Marcus Lee.

Marcus Lee: A classic rim runner, Lee — once a top prospect at Kentucky before finishing his career at Cal — outdid Hall by making 73% of his 2-point attempts in the G League and blocking 6% of opponent 2-point attempts. However, the lithe Lee is not as strong on the glass.

Lee appeared in 42 games for the Sioux Falls Skyforce – the Miami Heat’s G League affiliate – this past season while starting in 21 of them. He posted averages of 10.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in nearly 25 minutes per outing, and, as Pelton notes, Lee was incredibly efficient around the rim. His overall field goal percentage of 73.8 percent led the entire G League in the 2019-20 season.

It was announced at the end of May that Lee would be participating in The Basketball Tournament for Team Detroit, which is set to tip-off at the start of July. However, I expect Lee would pack everything up and head down to Florida immediately if given a call by an NBA organization.

It might not just be Lee that teams take a look at, either. Since anyone who played in the G League for the 2019-20 season is free to sign with an NBA squad, there are a few other former Wildcats who could make the trip to Orlando, as well.

Andrew Harrison (Warriors affiliate), Isaac Humphries (Magic affiliate), and Marquis Teague (Grizzlies affiliate) are also eligible to sign with an NBA team if their services are needed. Unfortunately, players such as Derek Willis and Kyle Wiltjer are not eligible since they most recently played overseas and did not receive proper clearance before the NBA season was suspended. The Nuggets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Thunder, Suns, Blazers, Kings, and Spurs all currently have open roster spots.

ESPN reports that there will be a one-week window – likely before July 1 – in which NBA franchises can sign or waive players.

Article written by Zack Geoghegan

Covering all things NBA and UK Hoops. Follow me on Twitter: @ZGeogheganKSR

1 Comment for Former Kentucky players in the G League could join the NBA’s return to action



  1. JASUN74
    10:31 pm June 12, 2020 Permalink

    Marcus was a little bit of a late bloomer, but once his body filled out and he got a little confidence in himself he’s becoming a very good Basketball player. I always thought he had all the tools but he never seemed to keep his confidence high while here at Kentucky. He’s a outstanding young man though and you can tell he loves the game and plays with passion I wish him nothing but the best in his basketball career and in his life after basketball. He came to Kentucky knowing he was joining the best players in the country and took the Challenge, for that, I’ll always have a ton of respect for him and I’m sure all of the BBN feels the same. Keep working hard my brother, you’re just a call away from the league right now and I know once you get there you’ll stay for a long time.