Patty Mills ‘turning the page’ in Brooklyn
NBA champion and Olympic medalist begins anew with Nets
What does a basketball player from Australia with an NBA championship ring and his native land’s first-ever Olympic medal want next season?
Just to be a part of Brooklyn’s first major pro sports title since 1955.
“I think it was an opportunity for me to turn the page on a new chapter,” said Nets points guard Patty Mills, who won his professional crown in 2014 with the San Antonio Spurs and just grabbed bronze in Tokyo with his fellow Aussies last month.
“And speaking about Brooklyn, and everything that I’ve learned — on the court, off the court — the culture of the city I think it was something that was very attractive to me and my wife.”
Mills comes from a culture of winning.
The 33-year-old point guard and native of Canberra led all players in scoring average at last month’s Olympics with just over 22 points per game. He put up 42 points in a semifinal victory over Slovenia that assured Australia of
its first-ever medal in men’s basketball.
Mills averaged 7.3 points in just over 15 minutes per contest during the Spurs’ run to the NBA crown seven years ago, a championship he shares with Nets general manager Sean Marks, who was working in San Antonio’s front office before his own arrival in Brooklyn.
“His style of play will fit seamlessly in with how (Nets head coach) Steve (Nash) is running things and with the group, and honestly what our needs are, both offensively and defensively,” said Marks.
“I don’t think people realize how good a defender Patty can be. I mean, he’s a gnat, he’s a pain out there. When you’ve got a guy like that, who’s in elite shape at all times, he can impact the game on both ends of the court. We’re certainly thrilled about adding him and his experience on the court.”
A former second-round draft pick of Portland in 2009, Mills has averaged nearly nine points per contest while draining 39 percent of his 3-point shots during a 12-year NBA career.
But with Brooklyn’s Big Three of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving running it back in 2021-22, Mills will be asked to do more of the little things he has thrived at since entering the league.
“It’s exciting for me and I hope it’s exciting for others: working out how this is gonna work,” Mills revealed.
“That’s part of the journey that I think I thrive in, and again, it’s back to the point of what can you do for the betterment of the team, and having that understanding and going back and forth. It’s a conversation, and I think that’s what I’m excited about.”
The Nets are excited too.
Especially if Mills winds up on a float down Flatbush Avenue next summer with the Larry O’Brien trophy in his hands.
“I think you look at Patty and what he brings off the court from a culture fit, from a background, he’s obviously played on championship teams before,” Marks noted after inking Mills to a free-agent deal on Aug. 10.
“He’s been around high, high-level players, he’s coming into this on an all-time high.”
And Mills hopes to enjoy an even bigger high here in Brooklyn.
“I think at the end of the day, you know, the culture of what the city is, the organization is, everything that is based around that I think was very intriguing to me and interesting,” he said.
NOTHING BUT NET: According to an ESPN report Wednesday evening, the Nets, along with the arch rival New York Knicks, will not be allowed to play at Downtown’s Barclays Center next season without being vaccinated, unless they can provide a religious or medical reason for exemption. The NBA informed teams in New York City and San Francisco, both of which recently instituted laws regarding vaccine requirements, that beginning Sept. 13 all players, team personnel and fans over the age of 12 will have to show proof of vaccination before they can enter any local arena. … The Nets will open the 2021-22 campaign in Milwaukee against the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, who took Brooklyn out of the title hunt by winning Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Barclays.