In an odd move, Tyler Ulis was released by the Phoenix Suns this last weekend. After just two years in the NBA, the team that drafted Ulis in the second-round of the 2016 NBA Draft has given up on the former Kentucky basketball star.
Ulis, though only 5’10”, was the big man on campus during his 2 seasons at UK. While at Kentucky Ulis averaged 11.3 points and 5.3 assists per game. He was also SEC Player of the Year in 2016 and a Consensus All-American.
College success isn’t always an indicator of NBA success, but Tyler Ulis is certainly capable of still competing at a high-level for another NBA franchise.
So, which NBA team will take a chance on the former Kentucky Wildcat? Let’s take a look a three possible destinations.
Yes, the New Orleans Pelicans have become a popular stop for former Kentucky players. All-NBA big man Anthony Davis leads the way and is the franchise player in New Orleans. He’s joined in the Big Easy by DeMarcus Cousins (who is a free agent), Rajon Rondo (also a free agent), DeAndre Liggins and Darius Miller.
So, making his way to New Orleans would seem like a great idea, right? Yes, but not for the obvious Kentucky ties.
Jrue Holiday is a scoring guard. So, while you may often see the former UCLA star play with the ball in his hands when Rondo is off the court, he’s much more effective playing off the ball.
Ulis could handle backup point guard duties for the Pels, and spell Rondo when the 12-year vet needs a breather. Ulis’ style play is very similar to that of Rondo, in that Ulis is a pass-first point guard. Don’t be surprised if Ulis finds his way to the bayou.
The Charlotte Hornets are home to some former Wildcats as well. Both Malik Monk and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were drafted by the Hornets after foregoing their college careers.
Charlotte is incredibly thin at the point guard position. Michael Carter-Williams is a free agent and so is former Tar Heel Marcus Paige. Kemba Walker is a very underrated and top notch point guard, but rumors of trade involving Walker have been swirling for sometime and could come to fruition during the off-season.
Dwight Howard was traded to the Nets earlier in the off-season. If Walker is traded away, that’s a signal that the Hornets are in full rebuild-mode. After drafting Monk, Devonte Graham and Miles Bridges over the past two years, the Hornets are looking to get younger and more athletic. A guard with Ulis’ ability to find the open man would be highly coveted in Charlotte.
The Orlando Magic are rebuilding, again. Former Charlotte Hornets coach Steve Clifford was hired to replace the fired Frank Vogel. The Magic finished 25-57 last season, just one game better than the bottom-feeding Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference.
Orlando traded Elfrid Payton to the Suns last season and now they have a void at the point guard position. D.J. Augustin is 30 years old and nothing more than a place-holder at this point in his career. Ulis could potentially slide into a starting role, and at the very least a back up, with Orlando.
Can you imagine Ulis throwing lobs to the Magic’s newest draft pick Mohamed Bamba? Wow!
Regardless of where he ends up, Ulis will give maximum effort when he’s on the court, just as he did when he played at Kentucky.