For the 14th straight season, the Arizona Wildcats have over eight former players on NBA opening night rosters, and nine for the second straight season.
It’s just that their presence around the league looks a bit different.
Former UA forward Luke Walton is out, having joined the Lakers broadcast team though he has not ruled out a return to the court, while Pacers’ first-round pick Solomon Hill is in after a four-year career with the Wildcats.
Then there are new homes for Andre Iguodala (Golden State), Jason Terry (Brooklyn) and Richard Jefferson (Utah), while Suns forward Channing Frye returns after missing last season with a heart issue.
Here’s a breakdown of the former UA players as the NBA season tips off this week.
• Years at UA: 2007-08
• Team: Memphis
• Age: 25
• Salary (in millions): $3.1
• Last season’s stats: 8.7 ppg, 3.3 apg
• What’s new: Took his $3.1 million player option instead of testing the free agent market after helping the Grizzlies reach the 2013 Western Conference finals as a backup point guard last season. He has bounced between Portland, New Orleans, Toronto and Memphis since leaving UA after Kevin O’Neill’s one season as coach.
• He said it: “The only thing that Jerryd needs to do is learn to just go out there and be a guard. He’s been scoring his whole life. To play (point guard) it’s not always about creating plays like everybody says. All you have to be able to do is facilitate the offense — let it swing and let it come back to you.” — UA assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, a former Grizzlies player and coach, to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal.
• Years at UA: 2006-09
• Team: Minnesota
• Age: 25
• Salary (in millions): $5
• Last season’s stats: 9.4 ppg, 3.1 rpg
• What’s new: Knee troubles have bitten Budinger since he joined the Timberwolves last season; he missed 59 games last season with a torn meniscus in his left knee last season and underwent surgery just before training camp this season when cartilage damage in the same knee was discovered.
• He said it: “The main thing with Chase is we want to get it right. He worked hard, he really progressed” — Flip Saunders, Minnesota president for basketball operations, at a pre-training camp news conference.
• Years at UA: 2001-05
• Team: Phoenix
• Age: 30
• Salary (in millions): $6.4
• Stats: 10.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg (2011-12)
• What’s new: Returns for a fourth season with the Suns after spending last season away from the game, mostly golfing, doing yoga and raising kids, after a year off forced by an enlarged heart that was caused by a virus.
• He said it: “I did a lot of meditation to think about (whether to return) and you think, ‘Does it feel right? Is this what your body is telling you?’ … I was like ‘(expletive) that, I’m not done with that.’ That’s not me.” — Frye, to the Star
• Years at UA: 2006-09
• Team: Lakers
• Age: 26
• Salary (in millions): $3.5
• Last season’s stats: 6.7 ppg 5.7 rpg
• What’s new: The No. 8 pick overall in 2009, Hill averaged career highs of 6.7 points and 5.7 rebounds last season with the Lakers but missed much of the season with a torn labrum in his hip. He had 12 points and eight rebounds in a season-opening win Tuesday.
• He said it: “I tried to do at least 600 to 700 shots a day. Me and Kobe (Bryant) talked after the season last year and he felt that I should get some shots this summer, so I did what he suggested. I feel pretty good about it.” — Hill, to the Los Angeles Times.
• Years at UA: 2009-13
• Team: Indiana
• Age: 22
• Salary (in millions): $1.2
• Last season’s stats: 13.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg (at UA)
• What’s new: A mild surprise by jumping to the No. 23 pick overall last June, Hill has been making a serious push to crack the Pacers’ rotation as a rookie.
• He said it: “He’s got this quiet confidence about him. When he’s putting the ball on the floor and probing the defense, it looks like everything is coming slow motion to him, just very smooth. And he’s really a student of the game. You can tell he’s been well coached. Maybe it’s the four years, spending four years combined with good coaching is a huge plus, obviously.” — Pacers assistant and summer league coach Dan Burke, to Indianapolis radio station 1070 The Fan.
• Years at UA: 2002-04
• Team: Golden State
• Age: 29
• Salary (in millions): $12.8
• Last season’s stats: 13.0 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 5.4 apg
• What’s new: With teammates like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson around, Iguodala may not face as much pressure to be the man as he did in Philadelphia and Denver. He signed a four-year, $48 million contract with Golden State after averaging 13.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.4 assists last season with Denver.
• He said it: “He’s a playmaker, a guy who’s not going to blow you away with his scoring, but who is going to blow you away with his ability to make plays.” — Warriors coach Mark Jackson, to the San Francisco Chronicle.
• Years at UA: 1998-2001
• Team: Utah
• Age: 33
• Salary (in millions): $11.0
• Last season’s stats: 3.1 ppg, 1.5 rpg
• What’s new: Limited by injuries last season, Jefferson put up career lows in scoring and rebounding and was sent to Utah as part of the deal that sent Iguodala to Golden State.
• He said it: “Last year for me was a very difficult year. So I look forward to the opportunity to play someplace else and kind of re-establish myself as a quality player.” — Jefferson, to the Salt Lake Tribune
• Years at UA: 1995-1999
• Team: Brooklyn
• Age: 36
• Salary (in millions): $5.2
• Last season’s stats: 10.1 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 2.5 apg
• What’s new: After an eight-year career in Dallas that included a 2011 NBA title and a 2009 Sixth Man of the Year award, Terry spent last season in Boston but was traded along with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets.
• He said it: “(Being a reserve) is a difficult job but he’s the perfect example of teaching guys coming off the bench how to be ready.” — Nets coach Jason Kidd, to ESPNNewYork.com
• Years at UA: 2009-11
• Team: Minnesota
• Age: 22
• Salary (in millions): $5.29
• Last season’s stats: 12.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg
• What’s new: The No. 2 pick in the 2011 NBA draft, Williams started often at his natural power forward spot, thanks in part because of injuries to Kevin Love, and showed enough upside that the Timberwolves picked up his option for 2014-15. He lost 20 pounds in an effort to gain the quickness needed to defend at small forward.
• He said it: “I’m still growing and I’m still learning. I’ve always heard that, as you get older, you’re going to figure things out. And that’s what I’ve been doing.’’ — Williams, to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune