Australian point guard Patty Mills and his Boomers teammate Nathan Jawai are clinging to hope their NBA careers will continue on into next season.
Mills played 13 games for the Portland Trailblazers in his debut season but the talented 21-year-old is yet to receive a new deal from the club and might be forced to try his luck on the open market.
Jawai, a 208cm, 127kg centre, is in a similar position despite featuring 39 times for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season after six appearances for Toronto the year before.
“At the moment I’m a free agent,” Mills said in Perth on Tuesday ahead of the Boomers’ clash with Argentina on Friday.
“Portland has a team option (to re-sign me) but that’s something I can’t control.
“It’s good I’m over here with the Boomers, get my mind distracted from that.
“The goal for me is to stay over in America … that’s where I want to be.
“That side of things will take care of itself if I keep my mind on the business back home for the Boomers.”
Mills hoped his explosive performance on April 14 against Golden State, when he scored 11 points in just 13 minutes of court time, would convince the Trailblazers he was worth another contract.
“That game against Golden State was probably my best one and the more opportunity I get the more comfortable I feel,” he said.
“Every time I did get out on the floor it was a chance for me to show I do belong, and I think I did that.
“The Portland organisation was great … it’s somewhere I felt comfortable.
“If I got the chance to go back I would love to.
“Most of the coaches took me under their wing and I think they believed in my potential.
“But a rookie doesn’t get the first hand I guess (in terms of court time).”
Despite averaging less than four minutes a match, Mills said his debut NBA season was a valuable learning curve.
“Getting to the playoffs and getting the opportunity to play in the playoffs was great,” said Mills, who averaged 2.5 points a match.
“I didn’t quite get the amount of time I would like but it’s something you have to go through to be a professional player.
“It was almost like a coaching perspective where you can sit on the sideline and really get a look.”
Jawai, who averaged 10.6 minutes and 3.2 points per game last season, said he would consider heading to Europe if he failed to earn a new NBA deal.
But the 23-year-old’s priority has shifted to recovery mode after a serious ankle injury forced him onto crutches and in a moon boot for more than six weeks.
Jawai returned to the training court with his Boomers teammates this week and hopes to play some game time in the upcoming three-game series against Argentina.
“(The aim is to) play a limited role, just come on the court for two, three minutes and do what I can do just so I can get back into game shape,” Jawai said.