When we last checked in on the former Syracuse Orange basketball players in the NBA, some things were different. Now, with the NBA season nearly upon us, there are some updates — most notably, some great news for two alums over the weekend:
Orlando Magic elected to keep forwards Arinze Onuaku, Damjan Rudez for final roster spots, league sources told ESPN. Nick Johnson waived.— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) October 22, 2016
Georges Niang, Rakeem Christmas, and Kevin Seraphin make final cuts. Jeremy Evans the odd man out.— iPacers (@iPacersblog) October 23, 2016
A big congrats to Rakeem Christmas and Arinze Onuaku, who both kept at it despite not making it directly to the NBA on the firsttry. Or, in the case of Arinze, the first five tries. The former SU big man played in the D-League four separate times since graduating in 2010, and this year, he’s finally made the cut. It’s a testament to his hard work. We’ll see how many minutes he’ll break through for given the Orlando Magic’s center- and power forward-heavy lineup this season.
Christmas joins the Indiana Pacers, who acquired him from the Cleveland Cavaliers last year. Like Onuaku, he’ll be toward the bottom of the rotation, but could work his way in over time.
An additional change from July’s “Orange in the NBA” update is Michael Carter-Williams’s location. Formerly of the Milwaukee Bucks, he was traded to the Chicago Bulls. He’ll be sharing time in the Bulls’ backcourt with Dwayne Wade, Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and others. It’s Carter-Williams’s third pro team. He won the Rookie of the Year Award with the Philadelphia 76ers in 2014, as you may recall.
The NBA season starts tomorrow night when the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers tip off against Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. While many Syracuse fans aren’t NBA fans (for some silly reason...), hopefully the large number of Orange alums in the pros right now provides some motivation to catch a few games this season.