UNC Basketball: NBA Tar Heels on the Move


Although the 2019-20 NBA season just ended on October 11, with the Los Angeles Lakers winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy thanks to a 4-2 NBA Finals victory over the Miami Heat, due to COVID-19 delays, the 2020-21 NBA cycle has begun in earnest.

The NBA Draft took place this past Wednesday, November 18, and training camps will open the week after Thanksgiving (specifically Tuesday, December 1). In between those two dates is the flurry of annual activity known as free agency, which began two days after the draft; Friday, November 20.

As per usual, there are several top-tier options available on the open market, including players like Anthony Davis, Gordon Hayward, Brandon Ingram, and Fred VanVleet.

Davis is expected to ultimately re-sign with the Lakers.

Hayward is leaving Boston after signing a four-year deal with the Charlotte Hornets.

Ingram will likely still be a Pelican, although no formal deal has been announced.

VanVleet has already re-signed with the Raptors, a four-year, $85 million dollar contract; reportedly the largest ever for an undrafted player.

As you would imagine, the days surrounding the NBA Draft and the beginning of free agency have also led to a multitude of trades in the league. Trevor Ariza alone has been traded three times this week (Portland to Houston to Detroit to Oklahoma City).

As for UNC players in the NBA, some are on the move through trades or free agency, some are staying put, and the newest NBA Tar Heel will be making his first professional appearance.

Here’s an update on each NBA Tar Heel as of Sunday morning, November 22:

On The Move

  • Cole Anthony – Orlando Magic (first professional season)
    • Anthony was drafted by the Magic 15th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft
  • Tony Bradley – Detroit Pistons (trade from the Utah Jazz)
    • Bradley was traded to the Pistons on draft night, likely a result of the decision to draft Udoka Azubuike. He has played his entire career in Utah and will look to start over in Detroit.
  • Ed Davis – New York Knicks (trade from Utah Jazz)
    • Davis is the second Tar Heel to be traded away from the Jazz, following Tony Bradley. With Wayne Ellington being released, Davis is currently the only player on the roster who is 30 or older.
  • Danny Green – Philadelphia 76ers (trade from Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder)
    • Last Sunday it was reported that Green would be traded to the Thunder, but then on draft day he was traded again, to the 76ers.
  • Justin Jackson – Oklahoma City Thunder (trade from Dallas Mavericks)
    • Jackson was involved in a multi-team trade late Friday night / early Saturday morning. He will begin his fourth professional season playing for his third different team.

Staying Put 

  • Harrison Barnes – Sacramento Kings
    • Barnes will in Sacramento for his second full season. He has played 100 total games for the Kings after joining them for the final 28 games of the 2018-19 season.
  • Reggie Bullock – New York Knicks
    • Bullock will be in his second season with the Knicks. The team projected to be the NBA roster with the most Tar Heels but the Knicks released both Theo Pinson and Wayne Ellington on Friday, November 20.
  • John Henson – Detroit Pistons
    • This will be Henson’s first full season in Detroit. He is joined in the frontcourt by newly acquired Tony Bradley.
  • Cameron Johnson – Phoenix Suns
    • Johnson will begin his second professional season with the Suns who were a middling, young team prior to the bubble and then went undefeated in Orlando. Perhaps the young nucleus will continue to grow together.
  • Nassir Little – Portland Trail Blazers
    • Little will begin his second professional season hoping for a fully healthy season. His minutes were hampered by the Trail Blazers’ signing of Carmelo Anthony. Hopefully a healthy and more experienced Little will find more of a role this season.
  • Coby White – Chicago Bulls
    • White had really begun to find his way at the end of the 2019-20 season. The Bulls didn’t make it to the bubble, but prior to the stoppage White played 30-plus minutes in 10 of the Bulls’ final 11 games, made his first start of the season in the final game, scored in double-digits in each of the final 11 games (including 20-plus in eight of the final games).
  • Tyler Zeller – San Antonio Spurs
    • Zeller was part of the Spurs in 2019-20, although you could be forgiven for not realizing that. He was signed just prior to the season re-start in the bubble and because of injuries only participated in two games for a total of 3:52. As of now, Zeller is still with the team, but we wait to see what happens.

Free Agents

  • Theo Pinson – Free Agent (team option with the Knicks declined)
    • The Knicks declined Pinson’s team option on Thursday as they parted ways with six total players.
  • Wayne Ellington – Free Agent (waived by Knicks)
    • The day after the draft, the Knicks parted ways with six different players, including Ellington. 

Retired Tar Heels

  • Vince Carter - Carter has officially and formally retired from the NBA and has joined ESPN as a basketball analyst.
  • Marvin Williams – although Williams is still listed on the Bucks’ roster, he has retired from basketball.

Stay tuned to AllTarHeels for all your information about NBA transactions involving Tar Heels.

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