With the NBA still no closer to a resolution over the lockout, many players are upping their interest in playing overseas. First off, it was the fringe players who sought out deals, realizing that their playing career in the NBA would be most hurt by the stoppage.
Noting this, recently re-signed Portland Trailblazers guard Patty Mills rejected overtures from Europe to come back to his hometown of Melbourne, Australia to sign with the Melbourne Tigers. Patty Mills could have accepted more money elsewhere, but the idea of playing in his hometown won him over.
Australia’s NBL isn’t a particularly strong league, with crowds ranging between 2,000-5,000, and sometimes more for blockbusters. With the addition of Patty Mills, a growth in crowd numbers of around 20% per game would not be out of the question, which would result in a win for the league.
The ‘Crown Jewel’ of Australian Basketball is by far Andrew Bogut. The former No. 1 overall pick has flourished in Milwaukee, and his success has led to increased coverage in his home country. Whilst Andrew would love to play in the NBL during the lockout, there is one major hurdle – his insurance.
With Andrew due to make around $40 million over the next three seasons, he wants to make sure his insured in the case that he goes down due to injury. The insurance figure alone is $500,000. This has scared off many teams, leaving primarily the Sydney Kings doing the most wooing.
I don’t think think the salary paid to Bogut during his NBL stint is the major factor, but more-so the clubs facilities and ambitions. With the Sydney Kings operating in the biggest market in Australia, this could be the deciding point.
The interest in playing in Asutralia’s national league doesn’t just stop at the two Australians. Patty Mills’ Portland teammate Wesley Matthews recently had a twitter exchange with Patty about whether there’s room down there for him. However, with only two teams holding spots for imports on their rosters, the move seems unlikely.
Now, a new player has emerged – Bogut’s Milwaukee teammate Brandon Jennings. Jennings recently tweeted the following:
“Seriously thinking about going to Australia to play with @AndrewMBogut………..”
“I’ll come to Australia if @AndrewMBogut let me borrow couple cars while i’m out there….”
While you can’t read too much into the tweets, it certainly opens up the possibility, especially with Andrew Bogut driving the move. However, a club would have to move its current import for him if it were interested.
The NBA lockout certainly has afforded opportunities to many overseas leagues and fans to see the best talent in basketball, and it appears Australia is one of many who will be in luck.