The rumour mill was spinning this week that the Adelaide 36ers have shopped star guard Mitch McCarron around in an attempt to free up salary cap space.
Crosscourt, though, has been told McCarron’s agency advised clubs the 30-year-old playmaker would remain at the Sixers for NBL24.
“We heard the rumours and we got told outright that he’s definitely not leaving Adelaide,“ one club official said.
“We definitely did our inquiries, but we’ve been told categorically he’s staying put.”
Adelaide chief executive Nic Barbato denied the club had attempted to move McCarron and that he was under contract and would be at the club next season.
Crosscourt has been told the Sixers have more than $750,000 tied up in imports Antonius Cleveland and Robert Franks, while McCarron was understood to be on at least $350,000 per season.
NBLxNBA BACK ON
Two NBL teams will travel to America to play pre-season NBA games, including grand finalists the New Zealand Breakers, who could be set to take on one of basketball’s most “exciting” and successful teams.
Breakers majority owner Matt Walsh confirmed his club would play at least two games against NBA teams in October.
New Zealand would begin their NBL campaign, then pause to travel to the US, before making up a couple of extra fixtures later in the season.
Walsh could not reveal the NBA team his club would play, as contracts were yet to be signed, but gave a teaser saying the franchise was hugely appealing.
This opens the door for the likes of Milwaukee, Boston, Golden State, Phoenix, LA Lakers and Philadelphia to be among the potential opponents.
“We can’t talk exactly about who it is, but it’s a very exciting team,” Walsh told Crosscourt.
“The value for us to go and play some big NBA teams and be on a global stage is something, as a group, we feel like is worth it.
“It‘ll be similar to what Adelaide did this season, but we would play one or two NBL games and then play two-three NBA games, beginning of October.”
Not all NBL teams are keen to travel to the US during the season but the Breakers, with an ownership group that features current and former NBA players in Victor Oladipo and Shawn Marion, have been strong supporters.
“We‘ve played three NBA games, we actually almost beat the Phoenix Suns in 2018, we lost by five, and then we played the following year, with (former Breakers Next Star and Detroit Piston) RJ Hampton, the Memphis Grizzlies and the OKC Thunder,” Walsh said.
“I think it‘s amazing, I love what the league does with it, we’ve got some strong ties to the NBA, so for us to go and play in front of our fans there and family, it’s pretty cool.”
HOW WORTHO HELPED WIZ SPOT COOKS
Championship-winning NBL forward Mark Worthington has been Washington’s eyes on the ground in its pursuit of Sydney Kings star Xavier Cooks.
Worthington, who played 335 NBL games for five clubs, is employed as an international scout for the Wizards.
A major part of his job with Washington is surveying the established and rising Aussie hoops talent and passing on his feedback.
Worthington has lifted the lid on why the Wizards signed Cooks to two-year deal.
“The thing that has stood out about (Xavier) is that he is a winner, a competitor, and a ‘dog’ in a good way,” Worthington said on the Hasbeen Hoops podcast with Chris Anstey.
“That is the one word that the Wizards coach (Wes Unseld Jr) used. He liked that he was just a ‘dog’, that he could throw Xavier out there and he would just make winning plays.”
Worthington conceded Washington lacked Cooks’ playmaking and ability to run the floor in transition.
He expects the Sydney star to be a “spark” off the bench for the Wizards as a point forward who can help find open shots for players like gun guard Bradley Beal.
“The reason we liked him was the fact that we have a Daniel Gafford, who is a rim protector, plays close to the basket and dunks,” he said.
“We have Kristaps Porzingis who is a shooter and scorer as a big, but we didn’t have the playmaking big who could get into the teeth of the defence and make a play.
“If you look at what has come from the NBL to the NBA previously, you look at a (Former Sydney King) Jae’Sean Tate who is a smaller version who was a playmaker and has been able to make his own way in Houston.
“Torrey Craig wasn’t a great shooter when he was in Cairns or Brisbane, but he was a defensive guy.”
Worthington said Cooks’ reluctance to shoot, especially from range, and his struggles from the free-throw line had been “noted” by the Wizards.
“But his mechanics aren’t horrific where we don’t think there could be room for improvement,” he said.
“If you look at his free throws – can he tighten up mechanically? – sure.
“That comes with repetitions, and he is probably going to get more time for repetitions than ever before as he tries to work his way into a routine.
“We hope that the shooting can complement what he already has, but he’s in a position where he has to try and get into the rotation and be the playmaking big that they wanted and he is solid on the defensive end.
“As a scout, you always look at transferable skills to the NBA and the one thing that always stood out to me was how big his engine was and that he is a playmaking big.
“That is something that I believe could help Washington.”
COACHES CLAMOUR FOR PHOENIX GIG
South East Melbourne has fielded more than 25 inquiries from all over the world — including the NBA and G League — from coaches keen to fill the void left by Simon Mitchell‘s departure.
NBA assistants and G League head coaches are among those who have put their hands up for the job.
Legendary Boomers coach Brian Goorjian has ruled himself out, while Crosscourt understands the Phoenix still consider themselves in the running for former Perth coach and five-time NBL champion Trevor Gleeson.
He is under contract as an assistant at NBA club Toronto but recent reports the Raptors are frustrated with coach Nick Nurse could change that.
Former Brisbane Bullets general manager of basketball Sam Mackinnon is understood to have reached out, while ex-Phoenix assistant Judd Flavell, and Boomers assistant Mike Kelly are also on the club‘s radar.
Greer believes the Phoenix‘s high profile ownership group that includes strong NBA ties with the likes of John Wall and Zach Randolph, along with Aussie tennis firebrand Nick Kyrgios, as well as hugely popular Chinese centre Zhou Qi’s time at South East Melbourne has helped put the club on the map and made it an attractive destination for prospective coaches.
KINGS AND BREAKERS CHASE HISTORY
The Sydney Kings are a live chance of breaking the NBL‘s single-game attendance record in Friday night’s grand final clash with New Zealand.
And the Breakers are almost certain to smash the national mark for a basketball game on Sunday.
Sydney owner Paul Smith said the Kings, late on Wednesday, were tracking toward a crowd north of 17,000 at Qudos Bank Arena.
It puts the league record of 17,514, set by the club in November 2019, in sight. “We could go through and break the all-time record,“ Smith told Crosscourt. “It‘s (Qudos) the only place in Australia you can do it.
“They‘re very robust sales and we’ve had the advantage of having a long sales cycle.
“The really compelling thing is we can‘t close out this game three. Last year, we could have won the title on that night and we did.
“This year there‘s no championship trophy to be presented this night so the fact that people are piling in highlights the genuine interest that’s out there in what we’re doing and what the Kings are up to.”
New Zealand majority owner Matt Walsh said within two hours of tickets for Sunday‘s game four clash at Spark Arena, the Breakers sold more than 7000 tickets.
He said a little-used area of the arena, usually covered by a black curtain during Breakers games, would be opened up, lifting the stadium‘s capacity to 9740.
Pack that out and it would well-exceed the previous New Zealand record of 9330, set during the 2013 NBL finals series between the Breakers and Perth.
“Spark Arena has opened up the east stand for us, and that’s only been opened three times in history for a basketball event,“ Walsh said.
“We think we‘re going to blow the previous country record for a basketball game out of the water.”
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Originally published as Crosscourt: Latest basketball news out of the NBL