Australian Boomers point guard Patty Mills is back in the NBA after signing with the San Antonio Spurs.
In a promising sign for the Boomers' London Olympics campaign, 23-year-old Mills will link up with Australian team coach Brett Brown, an assistant coach with the high-flying Spurs who are coming second in the NBA's western conference.
The Spurs announced they had signed Mills, a former back up player at the Portland Trail Blazers, after US work visa issues were resolved.
He fills the void left by point guard TJ Ford, who retired this month following another scare to his surgically-repaired spine.
But Mills could find himself pressed straight into action after the Spurs' number one guard Tony Parker injured a hamstring in their win over Minnesota last Thursday.
The Spurs said he would be in uniform on Tuesday night (1300 AEDT Wednesday) against the Phoenix Suns.
Mills's career had been in limbo since a deal with China's Xinjiang Flying Tigers fell apart in acrimonious circumstances late last year after the club accused him of faking injury - an allegation he strenuously denied.
Mills averaged 5.1 points and around 11 minutes a game in two seasons and 74 games with Portland.
His NBA club Portland Trail Blazers had a full roster and, after a protracted battle to get his clearance from China, the Blazers decided to renounce their rights to his contract, freeing the way for Mills to join the Spurs.
The Spurs have had previous success with Australian players, with Andrew Gaze part of their 1999 title-winning side.
Mills has also been nominated for the Australian NBL rookie of the year award - to be announced this week - after he started the season at the Melbourne Tigers during the NBA lockout.
AAPTags: basketball, sport, united-states First posted March 28, 2012 11:29:51