Mills re-signs with Spurs
Australian men's and women's basketball squads for London announced today at The State Basketball Centre in Wantirna , Patrick Mills during training before the announcement. Photo: Pat Scala
Patrick Mills hopes being free of the burden of an uncertain future will help propel him to a stellar Olympic Games campaign as he leads the Australian Boomers bid for their first medal.
Mills and the Boomers left Australia today to finalise preparations for the London Olympics.
The speedy Canberra point guard received a massive boost before boarding the flight with the San Antonio Spurs re-signing him for the next two NBA seasons.
Mills made the decision last month to use a clause in his contract to test the NBA free agents’ market, but he wanted to have his future sorted before the start of the Olympics.
‘‘I said from the beginning that this process needed to be done and my goal was to be back in San Antonio,’’ Mills told The Canberra Times before flying out.
‘‘I love it at San Antonio and for it to be official now means I can go over to London with a clear head and just focus.
‘‘Everyone knew I wanted it sorted out early and it’s been great ... you don’t want to worry about anything but the Boomers when you get into the Olympic village.
‘‘Especially with the role I have now as a leader, the Boomers are my focus.’’
Mills’s new deal is until the end of the 2013-14 season, but he has another option in his contract to review his future next year.
Mills has endured a whirlwind 18 months. During the NBA lockout he returned to Australia to join the Melbourne Tigers before signing with a Chinese club.
When his Chinese deal went sour, Mills returned to the United States and signed with the Spurs in March.
With the unpredictable NBA world now at the back of his mind, Mills said his No.1 priority was ensuring the Boomers reached new heights in London.
The Boomers have never won an Olympic medal and while they’re missing star centre Andrew Bogut, Mills said confidence was high.
That confidence comes from the team’s history with most of the squad playing at the Beijing Games four years ago as well as being past Australian Institute of Sport teammates.
The Beijing Olympics launched Mills from college star to potential NBA recruit and he was drafted to the Portland Trail Blazers.
Four years later he is the leader of Brett Brown’s Australian team and will direct the players around the court in London.
Brown is also an assistant coach at the Spurs.
‘‘I’ve used all my experiences of what I’ve learnt at the NBA for this moment now, this moment to help the Boomers,’’ Mills said.
‘‘It’s about putting it all out on the table ... I feel a more mature player. I’ve been through a lot and that’s helped me lead this team and that’s a great challenge for me.
‘‘This campaign started right after Beijing and you can’t underestimate that ... we want to do what no other Boomers team has done before and that’s get a medal.’’
After the Olympics, Mills will return to San Antonio to help them improve on their impressive 2011-12 campaign.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Mills had an immediate impact when he joined the team.
‘‘Patty came in and impressed us from the moment he joined us last season,’’ Popovich said.
‘‘He gives us some added depth at the guard position and we are excited to have him back in San Antonio.’’
The Boomers will play some pre-Olympic games in Spain before a tournament against France and Brazil.
They will arrive in the Olympic village on July 27.