His NBA season might be over, but San Antonio point guard Patty Mills is about to cash in.
And he’ll do it in a big way, according to Aussie basketball legends Chris Anstey and Shane Heal, who have both spoken in glowing terms about the 28-year-old’s recently completed campaign.
Mills, fresh off an NBA Finals Series that saw him average a career-high 10.3 points per game, is out of contract soon, and his status as a free agent has raised a flag with several teams.
His previous contract was valued around $A17 million over three years. And even if Mills decides to stay with the Spurs, for whom he has played since 2012 – albeit largely off the bench – an increase in the NBA salary cap means he can expect a huge pay rise.
“He is an extraordinary basketball player,” Anstey, who played 155 NBA games for the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls, told The New Daily.
“He has just got consistently better through his career. He could now be a bona fide starting point guard in half of the teams in the league.
“Patty is a loyal sort of guy, so if Spurs get anywhere near his market value, he could stay, but either way he’s going to become a very rich man.
“He might take a small discount to stay with the Spurs but it’s hard to say no to $A20 million a year. He is in that price bracket.”
Mills’ Boomers teammate, Matthew Dellavedova, hit the headlines last year when he signed a four-year $A51 million deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.
But Mills is in line for a bigger rise, with his earning potential at the Spurs thought to be around $A12 million to $A15 million a year, with more said to be on offer elsewhere.
Anstey says Mills well and truly deserves to be one of Australia’s best- paid athletes.
“He’s done the hard yards with an absolutely flawless attitude,” he said.
“This probably has been his best season. He makes big shots, he doesn’t turn it over, he’s a high-IQ basketballer.
“He is a world-class shooter and a world-class teammate and he certainly won’t get paid bench dollars if he stays [at the Spurs].”
Former Boomers star Shane Heal – who played for the Spurs during his 49-game NBA career – says Mills won’t want to leave San Antonio, and that if he does, it won’t be for a team challenging for a title.
“Knowing Patty, he would love to stay in San Antonio,” he told The New Daily.
“He likes Texas [the state San Antonio is based in] and loves the club.
“He fits in so well, and the Spurs have a great culture, which might override more money on offer.
“Clubs who want him as a starting point guard, on a big contract – you can be pretty sure it won’t be for a successful team.
“So it’s a hard one. We’ll have to see how much the difference [in contracts] is.”
Heal added that Mills is “held on a pedestal” by Spurs fans, and that he showed he can be a starting point guard in the NBA during the finals, in which San Antonio’s preferred option, Tony Parker, was injured.
Whatever happens, Mills is sure to play a big role in the 2017-18 NBA season, a campaign that should finally see the debut of Aussie Ben Simmons.
Taken with the first pick in the 2016 NBA draft, the highly rated Simmons, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers, sat out this season with injury.
He will add further Aussie flavour to a league that features the likes of Mills, Dellavedova, Joe Ingles, Dante Exum and Thon Maker, and Heal says it’s an exciting time for basketball fans.
“It’s been 21 years since I went to the NBA, and then it was just Luc Longley and me,” Heal said.
“As a kid, the NBA wasn’t my goal, but it is for kids these days. We have plenty of guys there now, and we will get more and more too.”