Phoenix Suns sign Ulis to first round contract


UK guard Tyler Ulis announces he will enter the NBA draft and sign an agent during a press conference at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky. on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. Photo by Michael Reaves | Staff.

Kevin Erpenbeck

Tyler Ulis slipped in the NBA Draft to the second round before the Phoenix Suns selected the former Kentucky point guard with the 34th overall pick.

But that didn’t stop the Suns from giving Ulis first round money.

According to Paul Coro of The Arizona Republic, the Suns will sign Ulis to a contract equivalent to that of a late first round pick. Ulis will get about $1 million guaranteed for two years and have an additional two team option years.

Ulis was projected as a mid-first round pick after leading UK to an SEC championship and the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. The Cats’ “floor general,” as head coach John Calipari liked to call Ulis all season, averaged 17.3 points and 7.0 assists per game and won the SEC Player of the Year during his sophomore season.

But in the months leading up to the draft, Ulis’ NBA stock began to slip after reports of a hip injury surfaced. Ulis finally came off the board when the Suns took him early in the second round. 

Signing Ulis to a first round deal is part of the Suns’ plan to build around a young core of players while maintaining salary-cap space for a future trade or the next salary-cap spike during the 2017 free agency. Phoenix’s roster includes three teenagers and eight players who are 26 or younger.