Kentucky point guard Tyler Ulis was the SEC Player of the Year over first overall pick Ben Simmons. He had experience and years of solid play with the Wildcats. He seemed set to be a first-round pick.
The NBA can be strange with what the league wants. His 5-foot-9 height scared some teams away. Rumors of a hip issue may have scared away even more teams. Ulis went from first round lock to second round pick pretty quickly.
The Suns finally selected him with the 34th overall pick in the draft. Getting selected in the second round though has financial consequences. Players picked in the first round (the top 30 overall picks) get a guaranteed two-year contract with team options on the third and fourth year. The 30th pick in the first round gets a guaranteed $976,300 in the first year and $1,020,200 the second year, according to the NBA salary cap FAQ maintained by Larry Coon.
Ulis though may have found a team in Phoenix that believes in him and is willing to invest in him as such.
Paul Coro of AZCentral reports the Suns will likely offer Ulis a multi-year contract paying him something similar to a first-round pick.
“Bender and Chriss are slotted into four-year contracts with two guaranteed years and two team option years,” Coro writes. “Ulis, as a second-round pick, is not guaranteed that, but the Suns will give Ulis the equivalent of a late first-round pick’s contract, which would start at about $1 million and have the same two guaranteed years with two team option years.”
That is not something the Suns have to do. Giving him that kind of an investment is a clear sign they believe in his ability and feel comfortable enough to invest a first-round contract in him.
The deal is not finalized. It is likely if the Suns do want to do this, they will sign him officially before the team’s Summer League schedule starts in Las Vegas this weekend.
Ulis though has seemingly put himself in position to make a NBA roster and be given an incredible opportunity to continue his playing career.