Although two former Wildcats didn’t hear their names called during the NBA Draft on Thursday night, they had lots to smile about on Friday and Saturday.
Less than 24 hours after the draft concluded, the Miami Heat signed Chase Audige to a deal that will see him play for the organization’s Summer League team. The following day, Pete Nance agreed to an Exhibit 10 contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. The deal is a one-year, minimum salary contract that NBA teams can adjust to a two-way agreement, a contract where the player can play both for the NBA team and its G-League affiliate, if the club amends the deal prior to the regular season.
Audige will join seven other undrafted free agents in Miami, which has signed more UDFAs than any other team thus far. Among the group are Villanova’s Caleb Daniels and Washington State’s Justin Powell, both of whom the Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Year will be competing with for minutes in Las Vegas. It’ll be challenging for Audige to stand out immediately, but if he remains with the Heat beyond July, he’ll get to immerse himself in arguably the best player development system in the NBA.
From Caleb Martin and Max Strus to Duncan Robinson and Haywood Highsmith, Miami has turned undrafted wings into key role players on title-contending teams like clockwork. Because of Audige’s defensive prowess, he has a chance to be a great fit with a Heat team that prides itself on its physical and aggressive playstyle on that side of the ball if No. 1 sticks around.
The former Wildcat could find himself as teammates with former UCLA star Jaime Jaquez Jr., Miami’s first-round pick who ended Audige’s Northwestern career in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament’s Round of 32 a few months ago.
Nance, who transferred from Northwestern to North Carolina in 2022, may have a much easier path to a spot on the G League roster. He is one of three UDFAs joining Cleveland this summer, and he’s the only forward of the bunch. Additionally, Nance is guaranteed both a Summer League opportunity and a training camp invite from the Cavs.
While Cleveland’s key frontcourt players are very young, many of their reserve forwards are older than 25. If Nance can make his presence felt as a good floor-spacer and positionally-versatile player, he can capitalize on a two-way deal to eventually carve out a role for himself in head coach J.B. Bickerstaff’s rotation.
The Heat will begin Summer League play on July 3 at 5 p.m. CT against the Los Angeles Lakers, while Nance and the Cavaliers will face the Brooklyn Nets four days later at 7:30 p.m. CT. The first game is set to air on ESPN2, while Cleveland will play on NBA TV.