Now that the NBA lockout is over and the season is finally set to begin on Christmas Day, I can delve a bit into the former Duke players. Preseason games begin tonight. Opening Day for the NBA features five games: Boston @ NY at noon, Miami @ Dallas at 2pm, Chicago @ the Lakers at 5pm, Orlando @ OKC at 8pm, and finally the Clippers @ Golden State at 10:30pm.
I mentioned in an earlier post that Kyle Singler is staying in Spain rather than return to try out for the Detroit Pistons. However there has been a lot of movement regarding former Blue Devils.
Shane Battier began last season playing for the Houston Rockets, before being traded to the Memphis Grizzlies near the end of the season. He helped the Grizzlies in the playoffs (he played in 23 games). Battier was a free agent and signed with the defending Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat. In his career, he is averaging 9.6 points per game, 4.7 rebounds, one block, and 1.1 steals per game. So far during training camp, Battier feels comfortable and thinks playing with the big three will give him some open looks.
Grant Hill chose to re-sign with the Phoenix Suns rather than sign elsewhere. He is set to begin his 17th NBA season. Hill agreed to a one year, $6.5 million contract. Over the last four seasons with the Suns, he has averaged 12.4 points per game.
Another free agent, Mike Dunleavy, has signed on with the Milwaukee Bucks, after spending the last five seasons with the Indiana Pacers (he was the third pick in the 2002 draft). Over his NBA career, he has averaged 14 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Dunleavy signed a two year, $7.5 million deal with the Bucks.
Josh McRoberts has signed with the LA Lakers for a two year, $6 million contract. He is expected to be their backup power forward (though I don’t think he will come anything close to Lamar Odom). Last season with the Pacers, he averaged 7.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 22.2 minutes per game while shooting 54.7 percent from the floor for Indiana last season.
Sheldon Williams, who is more known now as Candace Parker’s husband, has signed with the NJ Nets. He has been in the league for five years, but has played for six teams. Williams has averaged 4.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in 303 games throughout his career. Nets GM Billy King (a Duke grad) believes that Williams will bring depth to their frontcourt rotation.
Nolan Smith, who was selected this year by the Portland Trailblazers, will be competing with Armon Johnson for the backup point guard job. Head coach Nate McMillan has stated that he will not make a decision until right before they open the season on December 26th against Philadelphia. Smith believes that the two aren’t really competing against each other, but competing to make each other better. He has also impressed his new head coach with his high basketball IQ.
Kyrie Irving is expected to take over as the Cleveland Cavaliers starting point guard (though head coach Byron Scott isn’t quite ready to name him the starter). The number one pick in this year’s draft, he is not expected to be the team’s immediate savior, but someone who can carry the team into the future. You can check out video of Irving during media day HERE.