NBA veteran Patty Mills reveals he conveyed his decision about leaving the Spurs to Gregg Popovich in the wee hours after the Olympic quarterfinal.
In a conversation with NBA.com, Patty Mills spoke about free agency and his decision to leave the Spurs. The former NBA champion played ten seasons under veteran coach Gregg Popovich before signing with the Brooklyn Nets in 2021. Mills is known as one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the league.
The Australian native would come off the bench on most occasions for the Spurs, shining in his role of a marksman on the team. Mills set several 3-point shooting milestones for the Spurs. Thus his decision to leave San Antonio during free agency did come as a surprise.
During a conversation with NBA.com, Mills opened about making this tough call and conveying his decision to coach Pop. The 33-year old signed a two-year $12M deal with the Nets during the recent off-season, adding shooting depth to the offensive juggernaut of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden.
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Mills would convey his decision to coach Pop after winning the Olympic quarterfinal against Argentina. The Spurs coach accepted the decision with no malice.
Patty Mills reveals his conversation with Gregg Popovich before signing with the Nets.
The Spurs have missed the last two playoffs, which was never the case. Post winning a championship in 2014, the following years saw Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker retire in spurts. Though the team did have a superstar in Kawhi Leonard, the two parties were never on the same page.
The Spurs had begun their process to rebuild with most of their old players either being traded or leaving in free agency. LaMarcus Aldridge and Mills were the latest examples. Recently, Mills addressed the conversation he had with Popovich before parting ways with the iconic franchise.
The veteran guard had to make his free agency decision amid representing his country Australia in the Olympics. The decision to leave San Antonio was difficult and right at the same time.
“There were many emotions that made it difficult to leave, but knowing at the same time this was the right decision for myself, for my wife, and my family.”
Mills was at crossroads till the wee hours of the morning but would text Popovich his decision, who would reply within 3 minutes. The two would meet during the Olympic sem-finals, where Pop had nothing but good wishes for Mills.
“It’s probably about 1 a.m. by the time I have dinner at the Olympic village, and here I am about to come meet the fork in the road on making this decision. So, it was very late at night. By the time I made my decision, it was past 3 a.m. I think it was almost 4 a.m. So, it was obviously too late to be able to make a phone call and say, ‘This is my decision. This is what I want to do.’ But I just sent him a text and let him know about what I was feeling and how I thought it was strange timing and very hard timing. But I just wanted to let him know what I wanted to do.”
To Mills’ surprise, he replied within minutes.
The two finally got to catch up after the semi-finals game. Mills revealed what coach Pop felt about his decision.
“I guess it was him having the words to describe this is what I remember him saying, and how it feels. But [he told me] that he loves me and he understands.”
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Currently, playing for the Nets, Mills is averaging 13.4 PPG, 2.1 RPG, and 2.5 APG on an impressive 42.6% shooting from the 3-point line.