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SU in the NBA: A mixed start to the season for former Orange

“Syracuse in the NBA” is usually a very happy segment of the Orange Fizz experience. It’s where we take a look at how former SU stars are faring after they’ve left the comfort of the Carrier Dome, but at the start of the 2017 season a pair of SU players are already struggling to stay on NBA rosters.

The Charlotte Hornets assigned Michael Carter-Williams to their G-League affiliate, the Greensboro Swarm. Carter-Williams joined the Hornets in the summer to replace Briante Weber as the team’s backup point guard behind Kemba Walker. He didn’t get into a game with the Hornets before he was sent to Greensboro as he recovers from knee soreness which required injections this summer.

Charlotte is Carter-Williams’ fourth team since he won the Rookie of the Year award in 2014 with Philadelphia. His numbers have steadily gone down, as have his minutes. MCW averaged almost 17 points his first season as a starter with the 76ers, but in Chicago last year scored just over six points per game and started less than half the games he played. Marcus Paige has taken Carter-Williams’ spot on the roster. Paige is signed on a two-way contract (meaning he can only spend 45 days in the NBA this season), so Carter-Williams will likely be back in Charlotte once he is healthy.

In an awkward move, the Washington Wizards decided to tell Chris McCullough at the start of the season that they won’t be picking up his player option after the season.

McCullough is still on his rookie contract and would have been owed $2.2 million in 2018. He will make just over $1.4 million this season before he looks for another home.

McCullough hasn’t seen much of the floor with either Brooklyn or Washington. The Nets used him most in his rookie year, when McCullough came back from the ACL tear at Syracuse to play over 15 minutes per game (in just 24 games) and average almost five points per contest. But last year, McCullough only played five minutes per game with Brooklyn before he was traded. In Washington, he played just eight minutes the rest of the season. 2017 has been more of the same – McCullough has seven minutes through the Wizards’ first six games.

There was some good news for Malachi Richardson, as the Kings picked up his team option for next year. Also on his rookie contract, Richardson will make $1.2 million in 2018-19.

Richardson only played nine minutes per game as a rookie in 2017. He scored under four points per game. But unlike McCullough in Washington, Richardson helps the Kings’ depth chart. Sacramento needs guards, if you weren’t able to tell when they picked De’Aaron Fox and Frank Mason in this year’s draft and traded for Buddy Hield last season. Richardson is a potentially good NBA guard, which is what the Kings are looking for. For now, it’ll keep him on an NBA roster (or at least paid like he is) for another year.

As for the former NBA players comfortably on NBA rosters, Carmelo Anthony is shooting at the best clip he’s had since 2008 in Denver. Dion Waiters is averaging a would-be career high with over 16 points per game in Miami.

Posted: Nathan Dickinson

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The Fizz is owned, edited and operated by Damon Amendolara. D.A. is an ’01 Syracuse graduate from the Newhouse School with a degree in Broadcast Journalism.

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