Badgers in the NBA: Free Agency

As the madness sports fans call NBA free agency starts to thicken, a couple of Badgers have been part of the buzz. Here we look at some of the changes of address and deals the Wisconsin Alumni have made the past few days.

Jordan Taylor and Brian Butchbutch_taylor

Former Badgers’ stars Taylor and Butch will be teaming up on the Atlanta Hawks’ summer league team. The 2007 UW graduate Butch had a breakout year last season playing in the NBA development league with the Bakersfield Jam. He averaged 15.3 points and 9.8 rebounds in 27.4 minutes per game. Butch had an incredible playoffs, where he averaged an astonishing 13.3 rebounds a game. In a league where centers are coveted, Butch will likely find his way on to an NBA roster, whether it’s the Hawks or someone else.

Jordan Taylor’s uphill battle towards the NBA continues with a victory in finding himself with a place to play. Taylor declined an offer from the hometown Milwaukee Bucks and jumped on the opportunity to play for the Hawks. Atlanta seemed like a good destination earlier this morning, when they only had one Point Guard on the books for next season. But a veteran Point Guard- and familiar face to Badger nation- was acquired by the Hawks this afternoon. With veterans Jeff Teague and Devin Harris on the Hawks’ roster, Taylor will really have to play well to get a spot on the team. If he doesn’t make it, he’ll likely have more suitors, as many teams were interested in his services.

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Devin Harris

harris_dFormer Big Ten player of the year and Badger Point Guard Devin Harris was traded from the Utah Jazz to the Atlanta Hawks this afternoon. He joins the two other Badgers in the Hawks’ orginization, though unlike Taylor and Butch, Harris likely has a roster spot saved for him. The last time we saw two Badgers on the same NBA team was in 2004 during Harris’ rookie season, when he joined Michael Finley on the Dallas Mavericks. Harris averaged 11.3 points and 5.0 assists a game as the starting Point Guard for the Jazz last season. The former All Star will make 8.5 million dollars on the final year of his contract. After next season he is an unrestricted free agent.

Greg Stiemsma

After having a good comeback year with the Boston Celtics last season, Stiemsma is a free agent this off-season and is looking at destinations for next season. “I’d really love to come back to Boston” Stiemsma said in an interview with the Boston Herald. Stiemsma suffered through plantar fasciitis throughout the season, and is spending the off-season rehabbing his left foot. If all goes well, Stiemsma will be a solid contributer on an NBA roster next season. According to Bloguin’s own Crossover Chronicles, Stiemsma met with the Timberwolves today. I’m sure the Wisconsin native would not mind coming back home to play in the midwest. Minnesota and Boston are the two favorites to sign Stiemsma at this point. Because of the need for centers on most NBA teams, Stiemsma will likely make around 3-5 million a year wherever he signs.

With all these former Badgers making splashes in the NBA recently this should give you a good idea of who’s where and what’s happening. Stay tuned as we could see more Badgers coming from nowhere and making NBA teams, ala Stiemsma 2011.