Chris Dutton of TheAge.com.au caught up with Portland Trail Blazers free agent guard Patty Mills to discuss his recent decision to spread his wings, leaving Australia's Melbourne Tigers for the Xinjiang Flying Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Mills confims that his contract with Xinjiang does not have an NBA opt-out, meaning he is bound to the team through March when the CBA season ends. Obviously this could complicate a return to the Blazers if the ongoing NBA lockout is resolved.
"Putting me on a Chinese team with guys I don't know and they can't speak English ... in terms of leadership and being vocal this is a great opportunity. "I've got to work harder to overcome the language barrier and hopefully that helps me with my leadership going into an Olympic year."
He was adamant his No 1 goal was still to get back to the United States and the NBA, but said committing to the Flying Tigers was a risk he had to take.
"It's been hard to follow the lockout and now I'm know I'm locked into this Chinese deal it almost feels like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders," Mills said. "I'm not sitting around and waiting [for the lockout to end], I can fully buy into this club and team and knuckle down. My goal is to get back to the NBA and I want to be in America for the following year. This is just one of the stepping stones to get back there."
The Blazers extended a $1.2 million qualifying offer to Mills back in June but have three other point guards - Raymond Felton, Nolan Smith and Armon Johnson - on the roster for the 2011-2012 season. His offer in China is reportedly worth between $1 and $1.5 million.
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter