Patty Mills tells Basketball Australia NBA stars like Ben Simmons need support if they are to play for the Boomers
Patty Mills has said there is a risk Australia’s NBA stars will miss the 2019 World Cup. (Reuters/Action Images: Dylan Martinez)
Patty Mills has implored Basketball Australia (BA) to meet the “basic needs” that he says will convince NBA All-Star Ben Simmons to commit to this year’s World Cup.
- The Boomers have never won a medal at the World Cup, but are seen as a chance for the podium in 2019
- Veteran Patty Mills has warned that NBA stars like Ben Simmons want to play, but need logistical support
- Basketball Australia says it is doing what it can to meet the players’ demands
The Boomers will play two warm-up games against the United States in front of 50,000 fans at Docklands in Melbourne in August before flying to China in pursuit of a maiden World Cup medal.
Mills said Australia has become “a basketball powerhouse” — capable of winning gold in China and at Tokyo’s 2020 Games — after Mitchell Creek last month became the 11th Aussie to play in the NBA minutes this season.
“We’re excited to put together Australia’s best ever team,” Mills said.
“We want to be the best team in the world and are absolutely licking our chops at that opportunity.”
But the San Antonio Spurs star said for the Boomers to be at full strength Basketball Australia would need to come to the party, revealing Simmons had “legitimate concerns” that needed to be addressed.
Aussies playing in the NBA in 2018/19
Ben Simmons (G/Philadelphia 76ers)
Jonah Bolden (F/Philadelphia 76ers)
Aron Baynes (C-F/Boston Celtics)
Patty Mills (G/San Antonio Spurs)
Joe Ingles (F/Utah Jazz)
Dante Exum (G/Utah Jazz)
Matthew Dellavedova (G/Cleveland Cavaliers)
Deng Adel (F/Cleveland Cavaliers)
Thon Maker (F/Detroit Pistons)
Mitch Creek (F-G/Brooklyn Nets*)
Ryan Broekhoff (G-F/Dallas Mavericks)
* Signed to two 10-day contracts, now with Long Island Nets
“There’s quite a significant gap between the NBA and Basketball Australia in terms of catering to players’ needs so we can perform at a high level night in, night out,” he said.
“There are some concerns that Basketball Australia either don’t want to or can’t cater to these basic needs.
“We have upped our game and level, so we expect the other side of our team to be able to the same.”
Mills would not say what those needs were, but it is believed extra recovery and performance staff, as well as more investment in nutrition, accommodation and transport logistics are all requests of the players who have become entrenched in the NBA and compared notes with the world’s best.
Paul Maley, the BA acting chief executive, insisted the organisation was doing what they can to meet those standards.
“As an organisation we acknowledge our players’ feedback and our collective desire to continually improve our national team programs, in order to fulfil our ambition of providing a high performance environment for this year’s FIBA World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” Mr Maley said.
Complicating the situation, Simmons is in line to sign a five-year, $200 million contract extension with the Philadelphia 76ers in the NBA off-season and any injury sustained on international duty could hurt his payday.
Simmons was undecided as recently as last month on China, but Mills said the 22-year-old was keen but needed assurances from BA, not his teammates.
“I don’t think there needs to be any twisting of arms; he’s said he wants to play for Australia, be a part of Worlds and Olympics,” Mills said.
“This dude is an NBA All-Star right now, we need to do everything in our power to cater to these needs and make sure he’s a part of our team.”
Magic Johnson cleared of tampering over Sixers’ Simmons
Ben Simmons wanted to chat with Magic Johnson about being a big point guard in the NBA. (AP: File photo)
Simmons has been at the centre of a tampering controversy, over confusion around potential talks with NBA legend Magic Johnson from the rival Los Angeles Lakers team.
The NBA announced in a statement on Tuesday that there were no violations by Johnson, who is the Lakers’ president of basketball operations.
DavidMalandra Jr tweet: Statement from the #NBA on #Lakers Magic Johnson & #Sixers Ben Simmons
“We have concluded that Magic Johnson’s statements regarding Ben Simmons do not constitute a tampering violation,” the league’s statement began.
“The Philadelphia 76ers initiated the contact with the Los Angeles Lakers by requesting a meeting between Johnson and Simmons.
“Both organisations ultimately concluded that such a meeting did not make sense at this time but in that context, Johnson’s response to a media inquiry regarding Simmons does not run afoul of league rules.”
According to published reports, 76ers general manager Elton Brand called Johnson to apologise for making it sound during a radio interview as if the Lakers had called unprompted to seek permission for Johnson to speak to Simmons.
It turned out that a member of the Philadelphia organisation began the communication by contacting Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka.
The situation began because Simmons wanted to sit down with Johnson to discuss being a big point guard in the NBA.
The Lakers have been fined twice by the NBA for tampering since Johnson has been in charge.
And although there has been no talk of the Lakers pursuing Simmons — he doesn’t become a restricted free agent until 2020 — eyes could be raised if he and Johnson caught up for a meeting.