Boomers hoping Mills can replace Exum
The Boomers are reaching out to Patty Mills to replace injured Dante Exum in a move which would strengthen them for the Olympic basketball qualifiers against New Zealand.
Young gun Exum was ruled out of this month’s two-game series after tearing the ACL in his left knee during the Boomers’ win over Slovenia in Ljubljana this week and it’s feared he could miss the entire 2015-16 NBA season.
His injury opens a spot for Australia’s No.1 point guard Mills, who missed the European tour to continue rehabilitation from a shoulder injury with NBA club San Antonio, but said he was available for the two-game series against the Tall Blacks.
Arriving in Melbourne from Europe on Friday to prepare for game one next Saturday, Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis said he’d already tried to call Mills in the US but hadn’t been able to make contact.
“Patty is a logical fit for us given he knows the Boomers and he’s obviously a very good player so we will work through that process,” Lemanis said.
“It’s been difficult communicating but we will see what happens.”
Lemanis hinted that, if they couldn’t get Mills to Melbourne, they would go into the series down a man, with Matthew Dellavedova and Damian Martin covering the point guard role.
Boomers centre Andrew Bogut, coming off the NBA championship success with Golden State, said Mills would add value to the line-up.
“He’s an NBA calibre player who has had a great run over the last couple of years so we’d be silly not to enquire and see what he can do,” Bogut said.
Bogut, who hadn’t played for Australia since the 2008 Beijing Olympics, said he was loving being back in the green and gold.
“Guys who play in the national team are doing it for the love of the game,” Bogut said.
“We all come together for one goal and that’s to beat New Zealand this year and hopefully qualify for the Olympics.
“In the national team it feels much more pure because you’ve got guys playing for the one goal and that’s to win.”
There’s no timeline yet on whether 20-year-old Exum, who has returned to the US with his NBA club Utah Jazz, will be back in the mix for the 2016 Olympics.
Lemanis said doctors were waiting for the swelling in his knee to go down before he underwent surgery.
“It was a difficult experience to go through to watch him go down and then see how devastated he was in the locker room afterwards as the realisation set it could be a significant injury,” Lemanis said.
“It was heart-breaking because he’s such a great kid who’s passionate to play for his country so we wish him well for a speedy recovery.”