Australian basketballer Patty Mills is taking on increased responsibility with the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA this season, after another serious injury to their lineup.
The Spurs’ starting point guard Dejounte Murray tore his ACL during a preseason game against the Houston Rockets on the weekend.
Mills, a Canberra local and Torres Strait Islander, is next in line to start at point guard but was cagey about the Spurs’ plans to replace Murray.
“We’ll see, obviously we’re trying a few things and we’ll see how that goes,” he said ahead of the Spurs final two preseason games.
Murray’s torn ACL will mean the 22-year-old will likely miss the entire NBA season and continues an already tough start to the season for Mills’ side.
The Spurs lost rookie Lonnie Walker for six to eight weeks with a tear to his right meniscus on Friday. They are also working to replace the big shoes of Tony Parker (Charlotte) and Kyle Anderson (Memphis) who left for rival clubs in the trade season.
The big change in personnel means Mills, a NBA championship player with the Spurs, will have to take on more responsibility this year. The 30-year-old was characteristically humble about that prospect.
“Starting or not, it’ll just be a case of finding out your role and doing your best for the team,” Mills told reporters after hearing of Murray’s injury.
Murray brought a lot of power to the point guard position and Mills was confident his team will stick to the game plan, “which is that up tempo, push the ball up the floor, move the ball [fast], type of style.”
The Spurs’ season begins on Thursday, October 18, against the Minnesota Timberwolves, after their remaining preseason matches.
“It’s on us as leaders now, including me, that we get everybody who’s going to step into Dejounte’s shoes ready and in the right mindset,” Mills said.
Mills can see a simple, tough path out of the dark preseason.
“Just being able to stick with the grind and hopefully one day soon it’ll pay off for us. That’s all there is too it, really.”
By Keiran Deck