Tears shed over NBA draft saga of Russ Smith is a nonsensical waste of water.
Long term and big picture, only one stumbling block kept the Louisville graduate and All-American from getting the best of it. Not being an NBA first round pick (guaranteed salary), then being selected 47th and traded was the worst thing to happen.
If he had gone undrafted and emerged as a free agent, Smith’s agent could have shopped him into a job where his (freelance) skills would be effective.
UofL fans may not like it, but no NBA GM is interested in paying large dollars to a streaky shoot-first, pass-as-last-resort 160-pound point guard who follows coach instruction sometime.
Footnote: With all Rick Pitino’s influence in NBA circles one could conclude Da Coach’s willingness to help Smith was tepid.
UK’s Julius Randle and James Young. How good is this: Seven months at one of the country’s elite college programs, then zoom, each heads to teams with illustrious NBA histories? Randle is a Los Angeles Laker millionaire; Young is same as a Boston Celtic.
Show Me the Money
Julius Randle felt he should have been chosen higher than seventh. His rookie pay schedule: $2.4 million first year, $2.5 million for second and $2.6 million for a third.
James Young’s salary: Year one for player chosen 17th – $1.3 million, then $1.4 million each for next two years.
Since 1947, Kentucky has had 112 players enter into the NBA, according to an athletic department press release.
In 1958, Johnny Cox was chosen by the New York Knicks after his junior season (NCAA championship), and then in 1959 by the Chicago Zyphers. In 1960, Roger Newman was drafted, but UK records show he played for the Syracuse Nationals in 1961.
UK record keeping can be shaky. For example, the first UK player to play professionally was reportedly Bob Cluggish in 1946.
The UK Lettermen’s list includes no such name. In 1938-40, Marion Cluggish, Corbin native, played two seasons for Adolph Rupp, then no history of professional basketball career.
First UK player officially drafted by an NBA team? Jack Tingle, 1947, Washington Capitals.
Louisville. Promising season ahead for Louisville fans. Using Charlie Strong’s recruits, Coach Bob Petrino’s Cardinals are preseason-ranked 15th in three of four national polls – Associated Press, Coaches and CBS. UofL is 18th, according to BCS.
A game that could earn national game of the year billing and reset television viewer ratings, No. 1 ranked (in all polls) and defending national champion Florida State comes to Louisville for a Thursday night game October 30.
Western Kentucky. Preseason ranked 90th among the 128 Division One teams, says USA Today.
Hilltopper opponents and ranking include: UAB (120), Army (118), Texas- El Paso (114) and Florida Atlantic (97).
Kentucky. Ranked 104th by USA Today. No surprise that Kentucky is looking down a cannon barrel again, but there are reasons for optimism. v Five of its first six games are at home. And yes, No. 4-ranked South Carolina is one. v A trip to Florida on September 14 is less daunting than in seasons past. Could be a signature win for coach Mark Stoops’ program. The Gators, for the first time in recent memory, are not listed in any national Top 25. v An R&R (rest and recovery) open date after Florida before consecutive Saturdays with Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Louisiana Monroe at Commonwealth Stadium.
John Calipari had a tweet during the NBA Draft last month. “I wish ESPN would stop saying we have had 18 draft picks over the last five years when we’ve had 19. They keep leaving off Enes Kanter.”
Calipari is right. He used not-eligible Kanter at practice for seven months, farmed him and fed him until the 2011 NBA Draft in June. The coach wants credit; he should have it.
Logical question: What did the 6-11, 247-pound Turkish professional contribute to the University of Kentucky?
Answer: Tallest civilian clothes horse sitting the bench until draft day.
Worth Repeating Dept.
Was my pleasure to speak at Lions Club luncheon in Henderson last month. Afterwards a gentleman stepped up to shake hands and enlighten me: “ You sure have a nerve to come into Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals country wearing a shirt for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
And so it goes.