Is there a more loved Australian basketballer than Patty Mills right now? We have seen Mills develop from chief towel-waver in Portland to an offensive spark off the bench, to reliable contributor for the ever-contending San Antonio Spurs. Patty Mills is a well-known commodity in Australia, however, his reputation is becoming more and more known worldwide as a reliable scorer and increasingly solid defender.
Mills’ current contract expires this offseason and he will enter unrestricted free agency. Mills recently also had the eyes of the basketball world on him, playing a bigger role in the wake of Tony Parker’s absence throughout the playoffs.
No matter where Mills plays next season, he is could potentially sign one of the biggest contracts ever for an Australian in the NBA.
San Antonio Spurs
When Patty Mills signed with the San Antonio Spurs, nobody would have predicted just how well it was going to turn out. Mills has flourished in the Spurs’ culture and system, developing every season, winning a championship.
When Gregg Popovic was asked about Mills’ future in San Antonio, Pop responded as only he could; “I don’t want to talk too much about Patty Mills because the more good things I say, the more we’re going to have to pay him”. Needless to say, the Spurs will want to keep Mills around.
Long time Point Guard, Tony Parker is currently injured and has no return date. Even as the backup, Mills was still the Spurs best Point Guard all season. As they say, time is undefeated and Parker has fallen from his once lofty heights. Mills was leading the Spurs team in net rating this regular season, with the Spurs 12 points better off per 100 possessions. Along with this, the Spurs fit more into the current NBA style with Mills on the floor. The Spurs played at their fastest with Mills on the floor.
It is still unclear how Parker will perform next season, and if the Spurs see Mills as a full-season starting point guard for them, or a bridge until they find their next starter. Regardless, Mills will be expecting a large pay raise from the $3.2 million he earned this season. There are rumors of the Spurs targeting Chris Paul in free agency If the Spurs do manage to land Paul, Mills may seek a new home where he can develop into a starting point guard.
Should he leave the Spurs, the 76ers would be a great destination for Mills. Whilst they just drafted Markelle Fultz, the 76ers will not overload their young guard with minutes. Mills will still be able to get a lot of quality minutes. Odds are he would initially start whilst Fultz finds his feet in the league.
The 76ers are a young team which is improving every year. When Joel Embiid was playing this season, they looked extremely competitive. More healthy games from Embiid and the 76ers may have been in playoff contention. With a healthy Embiid, Ben Simmons and Fultz, the 76ers will be relevant sooner rather than later.
Furthermore, the hyped Australian connection in Philadelphia is real, with the ex-boomers coach, Brett Brown at the helm in Philly. Brown is also familiar with Mills in his time as an assistant coach for the Spurs. Over the past few seasons, with Brown and Simmons, the 76ers have added an Australian theme to the locker room; they even drafted fellow Australian, Jonah Bolden in last weeks’ draft. As an Australian basketball fan, the prospect of seeing Mills, Simmons, and Bolden together is a great thought.
Brown is looking to give Simmons the role as the primary ball handler. They will require a Guard who can play predominantly off the ball, shoot the three, yet still be a reliable second option to handle the ball. Mills is all of those things and would be a great fit.
The Timberwolves have two young studs and have recently acquired a top-15 NBA player in Jimmy Butler. They have shifted their timeline into a team that wants to start winning games now. With a ‘big three’ of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jimmy Butler they will look to fill their team with shooters and complimentary pieces. Ricky Rubio is a great point guard, but not the best fit with the current team. Mitch Lawrence has reported that the Wolves will be looking to replace Rubio.
Now with Jimmy Butler, T-wolves think they can upgrade PG in free agency. Targeting Kyle Lowry first, then Jrue Holiday, J Teague and G Hill
— Mitch Lawrence (@Mitch_Lawrence) June 23, 2017
They do decide to trade Rubio, then Patty Mills is a better, and cheaper fit than any options in that tweet. Towns, Wiggins, and Butler all need the ball. A lot. They will control a lot of possessions and will need a point guard who can play off the ball and compliment their talents. Mills is a great option as a player who can fit in with the current starting five. The Wolves shot the fewest three-point shots in the league last season and in the era of stretched floors, they still need someone who can stand in the corner and demand a defender.
The Utah Jazz has entered one of the most interesting offseasons in franchise history. Gordon Hayward and George Hill are two key players both entering unrestricted free-agency. Utah traded up the draft order and chose another point guard in Donovan Mitchell. The selection of another point guard in the draft may have shown the Jazz’s hand (haha, Jazz Hands) in keeping Hill.
Signing Hayward is definitely the number one priority in Utah. He has improved every season and is a genuine two-way star. If the Jazz keeps Hayward and lost Hill, then they will be looking to reinforce the point guard position.
The Jazz knows what it is like to roll out a talented team without a starting point guard, and will not want to make the same mistake again. Their life pre-Hill was average at best. As much as fellow Australian Dante Exum has shown flashes, he is definitely not starting material yet. Mills would be a great fit in that system. With Hayward being a primary ball handler, Patty can have the freedom to play off the ball a lot and occasionally handle the ball when needed. He would add to their three-point shooting, their defense, and is a player that is used to playing complex systems with his time at the Spurs.
Even if both Hayward and Hill leave the club, Mills and French big man, Rudy Gobert would be an exciting team to watch, and would still be good enough for playoff basketball.