Andrew Gaze says Patty Mills will have plenty of suitors but tips Brooklyn Nets could re-sign him to help with Ben Simmons
“I would suspect that they would be super keen to have him back because of the way in which he conducts himself. He buys into the community and I also suspect that he could be a very, very good influence on Ben Simmons as well.
“If I was a betting man, I’d be betting that he’s probably going back there just with different levels of compensation.”
Mills signed with the Nets during last year’s Tokyo Olympics expecting that the team would challenge for the title. But the Nets ended up enduring a horror season in which Irving refused to get a COVID-19 vaccination so missed the bulk of the season and star guard James Harden was traded to Philadelphia for Simmons late in the campaign.
Gaze, who will be elevated to legend status in the Basketball Australia Hall of Fame on Friday, added that he could see Mills being a valuable addition to a number of sides who believe they can challenge reigning champions the Warriors next season.
“All the clubs are looking for those veterans that understand their role,” Gaze said.
“These days in the league, three-point shooting is at a premium and the way he does it, where he’s not intrusive on others around him, it’s not like he’s dominating the ball and that makes him a really important piece.
“So you can easily see him fitting in nicely with a championship roster because of the role that he plays.
“It might not be that high-profile role, but that very significant one where you can get it done from the three-point line, generate a bit of enthusiasm and stay attached on the defensive end.”
Delly captains Boomers to victory in World Cup qualifier
Meanwhile, Matthew Dellavedova took on the Australian captaincy and led an inexperienced Boomers side to a win over China in their FIBA World Cup qualifier on Thursday night.
With six debutants in the side, Dellavedova lifted in the final quarter just as China looked poised to steal the game, having come back from 16 points down to tie.
Dellavedova made a three, set up three other baskets, pulled in some crucial defensive rebounds and even boxed out 216-centimetre centre Zhou Qi (16 points, 17 rebounds) as the Boomers scored a 76-69 win in front of 8113 fans at John Cain Arena.
The bronze-medal winning point guard finished with a team-high 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists, while Mitch McCarron had 13 points and Jack McVeigh 11.
“They went press-back to a zone [defence] and that zone threw us off a little bit at the start of the fourth quarter,” Boomers coach Brian Goorjian said.
“Then Delly, he hit a huge three and made some great plays off the pick and roll with Sam Froling. But as a team, I thought we were fearless, we played like there wasn’t a scoreboard, guys took shots. They weren’t hesitant and our good players made plays.”
The Boomers are already on their way to the second round of qualifying, but each win from this first round of qualifiers goes with them to the next stage.
The Boomers had their struggles early as China’s big men attacked the offensive rebounds and forced the home side into some rushed shots at the offensive end.
But experienced guard McCarron made some important shots from outside to make sure the home side held a 17-15 lead at quarter-time.
Tasmania JackJumpers duo Jack McVeigh and Clint Steindl made an impact off the bench for the Boomers with some timely three-pointers including an off-balance three from McVeigh at the end of the shot-clock.
On the defensive end, coach Brian Goorjian had the Boomers switching between man to man and a three-two zone which caused some confusion for China who saw their scoring output slow as the Boomers extended their lead.
A dunk from South East Melbourne centre Qi gave the visitors a boost, but Australia took a 43-34 lead into half-time.
The Boomers looked to push their advance towards 20 points early in the third quarter and they were on track when Jack White’s three from the corner made it 53-37 and forced a timeout from China.
That decision proved a wise one as the visitors came out far more composed, extending their defence to disrupt the Boomers and sparking an 18-4 run with guard Guo Ailun prominent and Gu Quan nailing a three on the buzzer to make it 57-55 going into the last quarter.
A handful of free Tibet and Hong Kong Independence protesters rose from their seats late in the second quarter, holding flags in support of the two movements and yelling out slogans that enraged some China fans before the group of five to 10 people were forced out by security.
The Boomers play Japan at John Cain Arena on Friday at 7.40pm AEST.
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