After a 10-year run with the San Antonio Spurs from 2011-21, Patty Mills evaluated his options. He reached an agreement with the Nets on a reported two-year, $12 million contract Aug. 3 and Brooklyn announced the 12-year veteran point guard’s signing one week later.
Mills, who started his NBA career with a two-year stint on the Portland Trail Blazers from 2009-11, was attracted to the Nets for a number of reasons. Above all else was the chance to play freely alongside Brooklyn’s Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving — and win a championship in the process.
“It’s one of those things that’s an exciting opportunity for me to even know that there’s a different opportunity to be able to see how I can fit,” Mills said Thursday. “And the conversation that I’ve had already and the conversation that I had with Kevin was so pure and so genuine, you know? Being able to understand a pure hooper and to go back and forth about basketball specifics, I think … it was exciting for me to know that there’s an opportunity there for me to try to be who I am — like I am with the (Australian) national team.
“Obviously, the Olympics is one thing and the role and the leadership and the position that I’m in with the Australian team is one thing. And I think after a good Tokyo campaign, being able to ride the wave, momentum and take it into Brooklyn is something that I’m looking forward to as well.
“But again, that style and freedom of what (Nets head coach) Steve (Nash) does such a great job with and obviously now three of the best players in the world is just an exciting opportunity that I think I’ll be able to thrive off. So to be able to share the court with guys like that, I think I’m really eager to continue to learn about the game and continue to get better myself and find little ways that I can do that.”
Mills led Australia men’s basketball to its first-ever medal Aug. 7, when it emerged with a 107-93 win over Slovenia. He dropped 42 points on 15-of-31 shooting while adding nine assists, showing his ability and leadership.
“Every day, it’s working towards something — that’s an exciting feeling, to know that when we’re in the gym or in the weight room, it’s for a championship and it’s for the betterment of the team,” said Mills, who was a key bench player during the Spurs’ 2014 NBA Finals championship run. “I think I’d start there — what can you do individually to be able to make the group better? And then you can go from there. So a lot of it starts in the locker room, a lot of it starts off the court, to be able to come together and this is a great opportunity for me to be able to insert myself into a group that’s already established.
“I keep going back to the culture thing because I’ve just been surrounded by my countrymen and everything that went around the Olympics, but there’s something there about really diving into almost the stuff of what it means to be a Net and that connection to the Brooklyn community — I think that is something there. And then it’s the understanding of the NBA and the season, and the marathon of games that it is and then how to go about it. So it’s a lot of ‘all of the above.’ … But I think what I’ll be able to bring is that leadership and that experience of coming from a winning culture, environment.”
While a likely candidate for the Nets’ sixth man, where Mills exactly fits in remains to be seen. Whomever he is on the floor with, his experience and versatility as a guard gives Brooklyn something it needs for its 2022 title attempt.
“I think it’s a puzzle that you’re excited about putting together and then working out how it fits, and I think that journey of the process is exciting,” Mills said. “It’s exciting for me and I hope it’s exciting for others, working out how this is going to work. That’s part of the journey that I think I thrive in … being in an environment where you’re empowered to be yourself.
“And I think when you’re looking from an outside-in last season and seeing that that’s a massive characteristic of the team is how everyone feels empowered. And not just James, but everyone else as well. I obviously haven’t been to Brooklyn yet, so those conversations, we can dive in more. But I’ll stand by my guns and say I’m really excited by the opportunity to just go through that journey and work out that process.”
Source: Yahoo Sports