New-employee kits for some recent University of Kentucky students who officially entered the workforce Thursday night by being selected in the 2016 NBA Draft:
New employee: Jamal Murray
Hired by: Denver Nuggets (seventh pick, first round).
Starting salary: Slot value is $2,675,700.
Last year’s bottom line: 33-49, fourth in Northwest Division
The bosses: Through his Kroenke Sports Enterprises, billionaire Stan Kroenke owns the Nuggets, the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams. Kroenke’s wife is Wal-Mart heir Ann Walton. Josh Kroenke, Stan and Ann’s son, is team president. Tim Connelly, who formerly worked in the New Orleans and Washington front offices, is the GM. Michael Malone, the former Sacramento Kings head man, is head coach.
Key current employees: Former New York Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari was Denver’s leading scorer (19.5 ppg) in 2015-16. Ex-Morehead State star Kenneth Faried (12.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg) is Denver’s “energy guy.” Emmanuel Mudiay had a productive rookie year (12.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 5.5 assists) at point guard.
How new hire fits in: It will be interesting to see if Denver tries to trade Gallinari and Faried to launch a full-scale rebuild around Murray and Mudiay.
Career advisor: Agent is Mike George of Excel Sports Management. Besides Kitchner, Ontario’s Murray, George also represents Canadians Anthony Bennett (Toronto) and Tyler Ennis (Brampton, Ontario).
New employee: Skal Labissiere
Hired by: Selected by Phoenix Suns (28th pick, first round) with a choice then traded to the Sacramento Kings
Starting salary: Slot is $990,700.
Last year’s bottom line: Sacramento finished 33-49, third in the Pacific Division.
The bosses: Tech mogul Vivek Ranadive, a Bombay, India, native, is majority owner of the Kings. Former Lakers and Kings center Vlade Divac is the basketball decision maker. Ex-Memphis Grizzlies head man Dave Joerger (246-147) is the new Sacramento head man.
Key current employees: Labissiere could be the third former Kentucky big man on the Sacramento roster. Ex-UK center Demarcus Cousins (26.9 ppg. 11.5 rpg) is likely the premier low-post player in the NBA. As a rookie in 2015-16, Willie Cauley-Stein (7 ppg, 5.3 rpg) showed promise. Though he is an unrestricted free agent, former Kentucky point guard Rajon Rondo (11.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 11.7 assists) was also a key figure for Sacramento last season.
How new hire fits in: After a difficult season at UK, Labissiere is a long-term potential play. As a 7-footer who can both make jumpers and block shots, he does have a chance to develop into a contributing NBA player with time.
Career advisor: Agent is Travis King of Relativity Sports. After coming to the U.S. from his native Haiti, Labissiere lived with a family in Memphis. King also represents Memphis-area pros Jarnell Stokes and Cameron Payne.
New employee: Tyler Ulis
Hired by: Phoenix Suns (34th pick, second round)
Starting salary: The minimum rookie salary scale in 2016-17 starts at $543,471.
Last year’s bottom line: 23-59, fourth in the Pacific Division
The bosses: Team owner Robert Sarver is a prominent Arizona banker. General Manager Ryan McDonough formerly worked in the front office of the Boston Celtics and is the brother of ESPN play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough. Earl Watson, the former UCLA guard, was named interim head coach last season after Jeff Hornacek was fired. Watson got the job on a permanent basis this off-season.
Key current employees: If there are no trades, Ulis would be the fifth - count’em, fifth - ex-Kentucky guard on the Suns roster, joining Eric Bledsoe (20.4 ppg in 31 games last season); Brandon Knight (19.6); Devin Booker (13.8) and Archie Goodwin (8.9). On draft night, the Suns attempted to bolster their front line by drafting 7-1 Croatian Dragan Bender (fourth overall) and trading to get No. 8 pick Marquese Chriss, a 6-10 forward from Washington.
How new hire fits in: Second-round picks do not get guaranteed contracts, so Ulis will have to make the Suns roster. His chances of actually logging meaningful minutes in 2016-17 may depend on Phoenix trading one of the other ex-Kentucky guards on its team.
Career advisor: Agent is Leon Rose of Creative Artists Agency. Rose also represents ex-Cats Karl-Anthony Towns, Devin Booker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Dakari Johnson in addition to NBA stars Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony, among others.