When Patty Mills jumped on a video conference call with the Nets’ media Thursday night ET, it was early Friday morning in his native Australia and he was fresh out of quarantine following the Tokyo Olympics, where he led his country to its first-ever Olympic basketball medal with a 42-point performance in the bronze medal game.
So, it came as no surprise that Mills was wearing an "Australian Boomers" baseball cap and basking in the glow of seeing his family for the first time in two years after the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Being able to be with the family yesterday and last night, a ton of raw emotions and being able to hand-deliver an Olympic medal to our country and to our family, there were a lot of emotions, a lot of tears, as you can imagine," a beaming Mills said.
As happy as Mills was to be on home ground again, he stressed that he is equally excited about the move to Brooklyn after signing a two-year deal worth $12 million as a free agent. He spent the past 10 years of his 12-season NBA career with the Spurs and cited his familiarity with the many former Spurs personnel who populate the Nets’ organization from general manager Sean Marks on down as his reason for making the move to join a team widely favored to win the NBA title.
"The familiar faces around the organization is something that was very comfortable, especially for my wife," Mills said. "At the end of the day, the culture of what the city is, the organization and everything that was based around that, I think was very intriguing and very interesting."
For Nets fans, the most intriguing aspect is the prospect of adding Mills’ explosive offensive talent to a mix that includes Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Joe Harris and Blake Griffin. Mills’ 8.9-point career scoring average and 38.8% career three-point shooting mark barely hints at the possibilities.
With the Spurs, Mills played a well-defined sixth man role. But with the Australian national team, he plays a more free-ranging offensive role, and the prospect of playing a similar role in the Nets’ offensive scheme is thrilling, as his 42-point bronze-medal performance suggests.
Mills said he talked with Durant at the Olympics about how he might fit with the Nets. "The conversation that I had with Kevin was so pure and so genuine, being able to understand that he’s such a true pure hooper," Mills said. "It’s exciting for me to know there’s an opportunity there for me to try to be who I am like I am with the national team.
"Obviously, the Olympics is one thing and the role and the leadership and the position I’m in with the Australian team is one thing. I think after a good Tokyo Olympics campaign kind of being able to ride the wave of that momentum and take it into Brooklyn is something I’m looking forward to. That style and freedom of what Steve [coach Nash] does such a great job with and being amongst the best players in the world is really exciting [and] I think I’ll be able to thrive."