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New Mexico Basketball: Former Lobos Cameron Bairstow, Alex Kirk make NBA opening day rosters

Two former New Mexico big men will be long shots to see significant playing time this season but the they will open the season on NBA rosters and should have time to develop in their rookie seasons.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

When Alex Kirk announced that he would forgo his senior season at New Mexico their where man fans that felt he made a mistake. The common opinion around Albuquerque was that with Kendall Williams and Cameron Bairstow gone the offense in 2014-15 would revolve around Kirk which in turn would help improve his draft stock. Having redshirted a year, Kirk felt four years at New Mexico where enough and that he wanted to leave the Lobos with his recruiting class. Kirk earned his degree and could have transferred to another division one school without having to sit out a year but he still chose the NBA Draft.

Kirk was invited to NBA's pre draft Combine and impressed teams with his shooting and size but going into the draft he was projected as a late second round to an undrafted player with little to no chance to make an opening day roster for an NBA team. Like teammate Kendall William,s Kirk went undrafted he was later signed to the Cleveland Cavilers Summer League team.

He did not see much time during the summer scoring 5.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 15.4 minutes a game. He did make enough of an impact in practice and in the time he saw on the floor to earn an invite to the Cavs preseason training camp.

Kirk was one of 20 players fighting for just 15 spots with only really 3 to 5 of them really up for grabs. Kirk averaged 5.5 points, three rebounds, and a block during preseason action but he earned praise from Cavilers coach David Blatt last week. Even though Kirk made the roster there is no guarantee that he will finish the year with the team. Kirk will probably start the season with the Cavaliers development team in Akron, Ohio, but if he can show an improvement in footwork on the defensive end he can compete with the often hurt Brandon Haywood for minutes as the backup center.  Kirk will reportedly make the league's rookie minimum this season, a salary of $507,000.

Former Lobo teammate Cameron Bairstow left New Mexico after exhausting his eligibility and despite a great senior season in which he was the runner up for Mountain West conference player of the year and the Lobos leading score he was not projected to be taken in June's draft. Bairstow was one of three Lobos invited to the pre draft combine; he impressed teams with his strength and condition as well as his shooting touches. Bairstow was projected as a late second round pick to an undrafted player. During the draft not only was he the first and only Lobo taken but he was the first player taken out of the Mountain West Conference. The Bulls picked him as the 49th pick and stated that if they felt he would be gone with their pick he they would have moved up to pick him.

Bairstow had a busy offseason he played for the Bulls summer league team in Las Vegas, where he has averaged 8.3 PPG while shooting 58.8 percent from the field and grabbing 6.3 rebounds per game. During his time on the court he showed the strength, grit and hustle he could bring to the Bulls. After a successful summer league run the Bulls offered Bairstow a three year contract with one and half years being guaranteed.

With a contract secured Cameron flew to Australia to represent his country in the FIBA World Cup. Bairstow saw time as a reserve for the Boomers averaging 7.0 points and 3 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game. The Boomers finished a disappointing 12th place with a 3-3 record.

Bairstow did not play much during the preseason for the Bulls but he still made the roster cut on Monday. He will probably not see a lot of time this year as Chicago does not typically play rookies. He will have to earn his time in practice and probably the D-league.

Bairstow's former Lobo and current Bulls teammate Tony Snell has been rumored to be on the trading block and has fallen out of the team's rotation due to Constancy issues. Although many felt he would not make the team  Snell was also announced as part of the Bulls 15-man roster and had the team option for next year exercised by the team guaranteeing his salary for a third year.