Once again, Chris Jackson of Get Banged On shares his thoughts on the current state of Australian basketball — this time with reference to the influx of talent to the NBL, particularly from the NBA.

Patty Mills’ signing with the Melbourne Tigers could turn out to be one of the most important moments in the history of the NBL.

Think about it, a born and bred Aussie (and also importantly, of Aboriginal heritage), with experience playing in the best and most famous basketball league in the world, coming home for a run around in front of fans in his home country. Instantly, the NBL has a new, exciting, highly-marketable face of the league to boost TV ratings and numbers at the box office.

The signing of Mills by the Tigers is a huge coup for basketball in Australia. But is it totally positive?

How can something that could possibly push the NBL to the proverbial “next level” be not completely positive?

The signing of Mills pushed the Tigers above the NBL points cap forcing them to move the loyal, club favorite, Daryl Corletto, to the inactive roster. In layman’s terms, he was kicked out.

Corletto, a 277-game veteran (all played with the Tigers), was shown that loyalty does not always mean as much as we thought. Corletto definitely isn’t the star that Mills will be in the NBL, but it doesn’t feel right that a guy that has been an integral part of the Tigers team was basically run out of town (and across the pond to the New Zealand Breakers).

The fact that the Melbourne Tigers made this move is not entirely troubling. What team wouldn’t do whatever they could to sign Patty Mills? The fact that other teams and players might also make sacrifices, and that they can even make those sacrifices, makes me feel a little uneasy.


Andrew Bogut has made his intentions fairly clear that he is interested in playing in the NBL in the wake of the NBA lockout. But he’ll come at quite a price. The insurance that a club will need to pay has been reported at somewhere around $500,000. With a price tag like that, even the big city glamour clubs of the NBL will struggle to find the cash.

So how will an NBL club sign him?

Finding extra sponsors is the answer that leaves me with the least uneasiness. But for most NBL clubs, the idea of finding a sponsor or two to pony up 500 large is a daunting task, especially when most clubs have a hard time of finding sponsors as it is.

It’s also been reported that Sydney Kings players have vowed to take a pay cut to find room under the salary cap for Bogut. That’s all well and good, but the pay cuts necessary to sign him and the money needed to pay the insurance will still put a massive strain on most NBL clubs.

What happens then, when the NBA lockout ends and Bogut and possibly Patty pack up shop and head back to the States? With reports that the lockout negotiations are becoming increasingly more positive, will the sponsors want to take a chance of throwing some dollars around for a five game stint? Or the possibility that they won’t pull on a jersey at all if the lockout does end before the NBL season begins? The amount of questions that still need to be answered could hinder negotiations.

Do I think that these issues will make these signings/possible signings a total negative for the NBL? No. The hype that it will create for basketball in Australia could be immeasurable. The media coverage for the league could reach a new high point and (hopefully) takings for tickets and attendance around the league will break records. But I do have my reservations.

I want the NBL to flourish as a major sporting league in Australia. I hope the league can again reach the popularity it saw during the 90’s. I just worry that in a league with many financial problems in it’s past, the strain put on its teams won’t be too great.

I hope Patty succeeds and reaches greater heights as the face of basketball in his home country and I hope that Andrew Bogut can add another star to the exciting NBL roster. I just hope that the price isn’t too high.

[Patty Mills image – The Age]

[Andrew Bogut image – Perth Now]

Also by Chris Jackson: Death By the Three Point Line (Australian Boomers)