Patty Mills: "I need to play"

Patty Mills in action for the Portland Trail Blazers. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Patty Mills in action for the Portland Trail Blazers. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

For Patty Mills, watching his beloved Saint Mary's win was an odd mix of mostly pride with just the tiniest hint of frustration.

The pride was easy enough to explain. After all, it's not every day you get to watch your almer mater, filled with Australian team-mates, create school history by winning both the West Coast Conference regular season and tournament crowns.

"It's a great feeling, I'm just so proud of the boys," Mills said. "I know how much work they've put in all year, so it's all paid off and it's great.

"I thought we had control, it was a lucky shot (to force overtime) and a great shot but I still think we had control and there were no real nerves going into the overtime.

"Big ups to Delly and to Page, we had full control and they knew just what to do; it's just so great.

"Delly is so great, I can't wait to play with him on a national team at the Olympics.

"No question, I've been a part of this school for a number of years now and it's my home away from home, every off-season and holidays and I'm there at the moment and I couldn't be more pumped for the guys."

As delighted as Mills was for his Gaels, there was something else bothering him, almost like an itch he can't scratch.

Ironically, the fact Mills was at the Orleans Arena bore testament that right now, he doesn't have a team to call home.

Having been released from his Chinese contract, the sparkplug playmaker is now a player in search of employment, despite the fact the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers hold his rights.

The Blazers have the right to match any NBA offer put to Mills, a situation the former Melbourne Tiger is rapidly finding intolerable, especially with the London Olympics approaching.

The situation is becoming so unpalatable for Mills he refused to completely rule out playing winter basketball in the South East Australian Basketball League, where he was Australian Youth Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007 while with the Australian Institute of Sport.

"That's true, I'd prefer to have a job and be playing but it's a business now and it's tough, it's tough," lamented Mills. "Right now, all I can do is control what I can and I'm doing that by working out with these guys (St Mary's), hopefully making them better and they're doing the same thing with me too.

"My situation is I'm a little bit stuck, Portland obviously have my rights, so they kind of have all the power for now; the trade deadline is March 15, something might happen before then, if not, thinking of myself, I need to get out on the court and I need to play in the lead-up to London.

"So whether that means I stay here, or I go back to Australia or somewhere where I'm getting on the court.

"Who knows? All options are open right now. It's just for me to get in game shape, to get up and down the court, there's nothing like getting in game shape when you're in a real game, so ... maybe."

Mills was also asked about Australian-born NBA star Kyrie Irving's decision to abandon any thoughts of possibly playing for the Boomers in London and instead focus on making the US team in 2016.

"We tried to get him on, but to me, it's no real surprise," Mills said. "And that's OK, we've got guys on the team who are ready to get the job done.

"If we were going to have him on our team, you know, great. I don't think we were all counting on that."