Like many of his NBA peers, Chase Budinger has been spending the fall working out and crossing his fingers.
"We're definitely itching to get back out on the court and play," the former Arizona forward said Thursday, after watching a Wildcats practice at Richard Jefferson Gym.
But as much as anybody, Budinger has reason to stay patient and resolved.
A second-round draft pick in 2009, Budinger has two more seasons remaining on a Houston Rockets contract scheduled to pay him $884,293 this season and $942,293 next season. Then he's scheduled to have free agent leverage in 2013.
That is, whatever leverage a free agent has at that point, depending on what NBA owners and players eventually place in a new collective bargaining agreement.
"Whatever this new agreement is, it will really affect me," Budinger said. "The owners are sticking to the deal they want to have and they haven't done any give and take, and the players aren't going to take what they're giving. It's a standoff right now."
Budinger and several other former Wildcats will get a break from the lockout this weekend, traveling to UA for the annual Red-Blue Game.
Budinger and former Wildcat forward Derrick Williams will be placed in the McKale Center Ring of Honor, while Jason Terry will be honored for winning the 2011 NBA title with the Dallas Mavericks.
Other former Arizona players scheduled to be in attendance include Joseph Blair, Channing Frye, Andre Iguodala, Richard Jefferson, Corey Williams and possibly Jordan Hill.
"It's a huge honor to be up there with all the All-Americans and all-stars," Budinger said of the Ring of Honor banners at McKale.
"It's kind of cool what Sean Miller has done to bring everybody back.
"With all the NBA guys coming back this weekend, it will be good to get with everybody and have a good time."
Red-Blue sells out
Arizona announced Thursday that the Red-Blue Game sold out in advance for the first time ever.
The Wildcats generated large crowds for Red-Blue Games and Midnight Madness ceremonies in the 1990s, but never sold the scrimmage out in advance. It attracted about 10,000 fans last season.
Arizona used to occasionally have both a "Midnight" or "McKale Madness" ceremony during the opening weekend of the preseason practices, and then a Red-Blue intrasquad scrimmage.
But under third-year coach Miller, the Wildcats have eliminated a "Madness" type event in favor of livening up the Red-Blue Game. This season, they may have generated unprecedented interest in the scrimmage because of the Wildcats' success last season, because of the NBA players' appearances and because of aggressive pricing and promotional efforts.
Arizona attracted 1,900 buyers to a Groupon deal that offered two tickets for $8, and sold tickets for $3 to fans who also bought tickets to Thursday's UCLA-UA football game. The regular price for tickets was $7.
Jones eligible at Iona
Former Wildcat guard MoMo Jones has been cleared to play immediately at Iona after transferring from Arizona in May.
Iona applied to the NCAA's Division I Committee for Legislative Relief for a hardship waiver that let Jones play this season instead of sitting out a season normally required of transfers, because his grandmother is ill in New York City.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to play at Iona College this year … but in the end, I'm happy to be home and happy to be able to help my family through this tough time," Jones said in an Iona statement. "I'm grateful to the NCAA for granting the waiver, which allows me to be nearer to my family and to be able to complete my degree in two years instead of three."
Iona is expected to battle Fairfield for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship this season.
Jones was Arizona's second-leading scorer last season, averaging 9.7 points a game. He arrived at Arizona in 2009 after he was released from a USC letter of intent following the departure of then-Trojans coach Tim Floyd, played alongside Nic Wise in 2009-10 and took over the starting point guard position last season.
One poll ranks UA No. 16
Arizona was ranked No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches Top 25 poll after finishing last season ranked No. 9 following their NCAA Elite Eight appearance. It is the highest rating for any Pac-12 team.
The Associated Press Top 25 media poll has not yet been released.
Turner on Tisdale list
Point guard Josiah Turner was one of 12 players nationally named to a preseason watch list for the Tisdale Award, given by the United States Basketball Writers Association to the nation's top freshman.
• What: Red-Blue Game
• When: 2 p.m. Saturday
• Tickets: Sold out