Timberwolves Magic Basketball

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon looks to pass the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Friday, Feb. 28, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

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Late July is normally a time for NBA teams to improve their rosters for the following season.

The state of the world — specifically the U.S. — isn’t normal right now.

As the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic that halted professional and collegiate sports in March, the NBA has rebooted the 2020 season in a controlled and closely monitored "bubble" at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The NBA will attempt to finish a paused season with plenty of daily testing, temperature checks and games played in empty ballrooms. Starting Thursday, 22 teams — and 11 former Arizona Wildcats players and coaches — will re-start their seasons. The playoffs begin Aug. 17.

Here’s a look at the ex-Cats in the NBA bubble, how they fared before the season stopped and what their schedules look like.


Deandre Ayton, Phoenix Suns

Suns Bulls Basketball

Phoenix Suns center Deandre Ayton, right, looks to pass as Chicago Bulls forward Daniel Gafford guards during the second half of an NBA basketball game in Chicago, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. The Suns won 112-104. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

2019-20 stats: 19 points per game (54.8% field goal percentage), 12 rebounds per game, 1.9 assists per game

The rundown: Ayton appeared to be off to a promising start in his second NBA season following a double-double performance against the Kings in Phoenix’s season opener. Ayton was then suspended 25 games for violating the NBA’s anti-substance policy. Upon his return on Dec. 17, Ayton notched 13 double-doubles — including a 26-point, 21-rebound performance against the Knicks in Madison Square Garden. In the exhibition games leading up to Thursday’s bubble opener, Ayton displayed a much-improved 3-point shot. The Suns will need him: Phoenix is 13th in the Western Conference standings and needs to get within four games of the No. 8 seed in order to compete for the final playoff spot.

Schedule:

July 31: Wizards (1 p.m./Fox Sports Arizona)

Aug. 2: Mavericks (6 p.m.Fox Sports Arizona)

Aug. 4: Clippers (1 p.m./Fox Sports Arizona or NBATV)

Aug. 6: Pacers (1 p.m./Fox Sports Arizona)

Aug. 8: Heat (4:30 p.m./Fox Sports Arizona)

Aug. 10: Thunder (11:30 a.m./Fox Sports Arizona)

Aug. 11: 76ers (1:30 p.m./Fox Sports Arizona)

Aug. 13: Mavericks (TBD/Fox Sports Arizona)


Solomon Hill, Miami Heat

Heat Wizards Basketball

Miami Heat forward Solomon Hill (44) blocks Washington Wizards forward Troy Brown Jr. (6) during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, March 8, 2020, in Washington. The Heat won 100-89. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

2019-20 stats: 5.4 ppg (40.3% FG), 2.9 rpg, 1.8 apg

The rundown: Hill was traded from New Orleans to Memphis prior to the 2019 NBA draft, then was dealt to Miami in February. In six games with the Heat prior to the shutdown, Hill averaged 2.5 points, 1.7 rebounds and just under one assist, steal and block per game.

Schedule:

Aug. 1: Nuggets (10 a.m./ESPN)

Aug. 3: Raptors (10:30 a.m./NBATV)

Aug. 4: Celtics (3:30 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 6: Bucks (1 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 8: Suns (4:30 p.m.)

Aug. 10: Pacers (5 p.m.)

Aug. 12: Thunder (5 p.m.)

Aug. 14: Pacers (TBD)


Andre Iguodala, Miami Heat

Heat Cavaliers Basketball

Miami Heat's Andre Iguodala (28) drives past Cleveland Cavaliers' Larry Nance Jr. (22) in the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

2019-20 stats: 4.4 ppg (49% FG), 4.3 rpg, 2 apg

The rundown: The lone Lute Olson-coached Wildcat currently in the NBA will have an essential role on a Miami team that is a trendy pick to make the NBA Finals. Miami is fourth in the Eastern Conference standings heading into the restart, trailing Milwaukee, Toronto and Boston. The Heat have tools to make a deep run: Jimmy Butler is an All-Star and one of the best two-way players in the league, while Bam Adebayo is a candidate for Most Improved Player. Add in Iguodala, an NBA finals MVP and a 16-year veteran, and Miami must like its chances. "Iggy" could defend star players such as Giannis Antetokoumpo, Khris Middleton and Pascal Siakam in the playoffs, and either LeBron James or Kawhi Leonard in the NBA Finals — if the Heat make it that far.

Schedule:

Aug. 1: Nuggets (10 a.m./ESPN)

Aug. 3: Raptors (10:30 a.m./NBATV)

Aug. 4: Celtics (3:30 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 6: Bucks (1 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 8: Suns (4:30 p.m.)

Aug. 10: Pacers (5 p.m.)

Aug. 12: Thunder (5 p.m.)

Aug. 14: Pacers (TBD)


Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Toronto Raptors

Raptors Hawks Basketball

Toronto Raptors forward and former Arizona Wildcat Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, right, seen here in a game against Atlanta in January, had 12 points as Toronto crushed Indiana 127-81 on Sunday.

2019-20 stats: 7.2 ppg (47% FG), 4.9 rpg, 1.7 apg

The rundown: “The Shim Reaper” is finishing a one-year deal with Toronto before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. Toronto added Hollis-Jefferson and ex-Wildcat Stanley Johnson last summer, and despite losing star Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers and veteran shooting guard Danny Green to the Lakers, the defending champions are a No. 2 seed and in position to bring another ring north of the border. Toronto’s play-in slate features eight games against teams currently in the playoff picture.

Schedule:

Aug. 1: Lakers (5:30 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 3: Heat (10:30 a.m./NBATV)

Aug. 5: Magic (5 p.m.)

Aug. 7: Celtics (6 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 9: Grizzlies (11 a.m.)

Aug. 10: Bucks (3:30 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 12: 76ers (3:30 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 14: Nuggets (TBD)


Stanley Johnson, Toronto Raptors

Raptors Nets Basketball

Toronto Raptors forward Stanley Johnson (5) drives against Brooklyn Nets forward Rodions Kurucs during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

2019-20 stats: 1.2 ppg (25.8% FG), 1.1 rpg, 0.4 apg

The rundown: Unlike Hollis-Jefferson, his college teammate from the 2014-15 season, Johnson has struggled to find a consistent role in Toronto. The 6-foot-6-inch, 245-pound wing only played in six of the Raptors’ final 21 games before the season shut down. Johnson, the No. 8 overall pick in the ‘15 NBA draft, has career-lows in every offensive and defensive category this season.

Schedule:

Aug. 1: Lakers (5:30 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 3: Heat (10:30 a.m./NBATV)

Aug. 5: Magic (5 p.m.)

Aug. 7: Celtics (6 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 9: Grizzlies (11 a.m.)

Aug. 10: Bucks (3:30 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 12: 76ers (3:30 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 14: Nuggets (TBD)


T.J. McConnell, Indiana Pacers

Pacers Suns Basketball

Indiana Pacers guard T.J. McConnell (9) looks to pass during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

2019-20 stats: 6.5 ppg (51.7% FG), 2.6 rpg, 5 apg

The rundown: The point guard beloved by many has been a key piece to Indiana’s success this season. He averaged 18.9 minutes per game before the shutdown as the backup to Malcolm Brogdon. His first game in the Orlando bubble comes against his first NBA team, the 76ers.

Schedule:

Aug. 1: 76ers (4 p.m.)

Aug. 3 Wizards (1 p.m.)

Aug. 4: Magic (3 p.m.)

Aug. 6: Suns (1 p.m.)

Aug. 8: Lakers (3 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 10: Heat (5 p.m.)

Aug. 12: Rockets (1 p.m./NBATV)

Aug. 14: Heat (TBD)


Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic

Bucks Magic Basketball

Orlando Magic forward Aaron Gordon (00) dribbles the ball down court during the first half of an NBA basketball game against Milwaukee Bucks in, Orlando, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Willie J. Allen Jr.)

2019-20 stats: 14.4 ppg (43.3% FG), 7.6 rpg, 3.7 apg

The rundown: The former Pac-12 Freshman of the Year didn’t have to travel far for the bubble, but the road to the playoffs won’t be easy for the eighth-seeded Magic. Orlando (30-35) must fend off the Washington Wizards (24-40) to secure a playoff spot while playing a schedule that includes games against the Pacers, Raptors, Sixers and Celtics in consecutive games. It's been an eventful season for Gordon, the highest-paid Wildcat currently in the NBA. He controversially lost the slam dunk contest, then released a rap song titled “9/10,” a passive diss to Dwyane Wade, who gave the ex-Wildcat a 9 in the final round. Gordon and the Magic will tip off the play-in games on Friday against the Nets.

Schedule:

July 31: Nets (11:30 a.m.)

Aug. 2: Kings (3 p.m./NBATV)

Aug. 4: Pacers (3 p.m.)

Aug. 5: Raptors (5 p.m.)

Aug. 7: 76ers (3:30 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 9: Celtics (2 p.m.)

Aug. 11: Nets (10 a.m.)

Aug. 13: Pelicans (TBD)


Luke Walton, Sacramento Kings (head coach) 

Raptors Kings Basketball

Sacramento Kings head coach Luke Walton, right, discusses a call with referee Mitchell Ervin during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Toronto Raptors in Sacramento, Calif., Sunday, March 8, 2020. The Raptors won 118-113. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The rundown: The Kings (28-36) are just 3.5 games behind the No. 8 seed in Walton's first season, but will be without former second overall pick Marvin Bagley III when they resume the season. 

Schedule:

July 31: Spurs (5 p.m.)

Aug. 2: Magic (3 p.m./NBATV)

Aug. 4: Mavericks (11:30 a.m.)

Aug. 6: Pelicans (10:30 a.m./NBATV)

Aug. 7: Nets (2 p.m.)

Aug. 9: Rockets (5 p.m.)

Aug. 11: Pelicans (6 p.m.)

Aug. 13: Lakers (TBD)


Jesse Mermuys, Sacramento Kings (assistant coach)

Kings Meda Day Basketball

In this photo taken Friday, Sept. 27, 2019 is Jesse Mermuys, assistant coach of the Sacramento Kings NBA basketball team, at the Kings media day in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

The rundown: Mermuys has been in the NBA in some capacity in 2008, whether it was as an assistant for the Nuggets, Rockets, Raptors, Lakers and now Kings, or as head coach of Toronto’s G League affiliate. The Tucson native and Salpointe Catholic High School graduate followed Walton from L.A. to Sacramento last May. 

Schedule:

July 31: Spurs (5 p.m.)

Aug. 2: Magic (3 p.m./NBATV)

Aug. 4: Mavericks (11:30 a.m.)

Aug. 6: Pelicans (10:30 a.m./NBATV)

Aug. 7: Nets (2 p.m.)

Aug. 9: Rockets (5 p.m.)

Aug. 11: Pelicans (6 p.m.)

Aug. 13: Lakers (TBD)


Miles Simon, Los Angeles Lakers (assistant coach)

NBA: JAN 31 Lakers at Clippers

 Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Miles Simon during a NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers on January 31, 2019 at STAPLES Center.

The rundown: Simon initially joined Walton’s UA-heavy coaching staff in 2017, but stayed in L.A. after Walton was fired. 

Schedule:

July 30: Clippers (6 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 1: Raptors (5:30 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 3: Jazz (6 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 5: Thunder (3:30 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 6: Rockets (6 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 8: Pacers (3 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 10: Nuggets (6 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 13: Kings (TBD)


Matt Brase, Houston Rockets (assistant coach)

Matt Brase

Matt Brase, now an assistant to Mike D’Antoni in Houston, led the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to an NBA D-League Western Conference title.

The rundown: Brase, a Catalina Foothills High School, Central Arizona College and UA product, is in his second season on Mike D'Antoni's staff.

Schedule:

July 31: Mavericks (6 p.m./ESPN)

Aug. 2: Bucks (5:30 p.m./Ch. 9)

Aug. 4: TrailBlazers (6 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 6: Lakers (6 p.m./TNT)

Aug. 9: Kings (5 p.m./NBATV)

Aug. 11: Spurs (11 a.m./NBATV)

Aug. 12: Pacers (1 p.m.)

Aug. 14: 76ers (TBD)

Contact sports content producer Justin Spears at 573-4312 or jspears@tucson.com. On Twitter @justinesports

This article originally ran on tucson.com.

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