Patty Mills, a restricted free agent of the Portland Trail Blazers, has signed a deal with the Melbourne Tigers of Australia's National Basketball League. The Canberra-born point guard has seen limited action in the NBA after being drafted by the Blazers in the second round in 2009 out of St. Mary's, but he remains enormously popular on his home continent, reports the Melbourne Herald Sun.
The Tigers are expecting sell-out crowds and a huge TV audience for his homecoming.
"Melbourne Tigers are anticipating sell-out crowds," Tigers owner Seamus McPeake said.
"Every venue we go to people will want to see Patty play. The hype around Harry Kewell and Brett Emerton was big, (but) this is a bigger coup for sport in the country.
"OK, they're playing EPL, but nothing beats the NBA."
Harry Kewell is a popular Australian footballer with English Premier League experience who transferred this season back to Melbourne from his Turkish club, giving some momentum to Australia's league.
Mills does reportedly have an NBA opt-out clause in his contract, which means that he can still participate in NBA free agency, should the 2011-12 season ever begin.