It's finally official: former Adelaide 36ers forward Mitch Creek has signed a deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
Following news of Creek exercising his NBA out clause with German club s.Oliver Würzburg, news of the signing has broken today.
The deal gives Creek a solid possibility of becoming the third Aussie to officially join an NBA team this offseason, alongside sharpshooter Ryan Broekhoff and versatile big man Jonah Bolden. It could also make him the 11th Australian in the NBA, when the 2018/19 season opens.
With Creek's addition, Australia could potentially be ranked right behind Canada, when it comes to international players plying their trade in the NBA.
Creek's performance with the Dallas Mavericks in the recent Vegas Summer League had most definitely left an impression with NBA teams, especially one incident that happened off the court. Despite not being able to secure a commitment from Dallas, Creek managed to lock in a deal with the Brooklyn Nets.
What does Mitch Creek's deal look like?
According to Liam Santamaria, Creek's deal is supposed to be a one-year offer at the NBA's minimum salary.
The contract however, includes an Exhibit 10 clause.
Creek will participate in Brooklyn's training camp, with multiple outcomes possible.
The forward could be:
Signed officially to the Nets' roster for the season,
Converted to a two-way deal, or
Be waived, and play out the season with the Brooklyn Nets' G-League team, the Long Island Nets full-time.
Original expectations were for Creek to get a two-way deal straight up. This contract offers more upside, with a real possibility to make the Brooklyn Nets' season roster.
Failing that, the two-way is still a solid transition option. The two-way deal is a relatively new mechanism within the NBA, and is limited in the amount of NBA playing time a player can get. It is however, a significant step up from a G-League contract in terms of player remuneration, and offers a chance for players to be close to their contracted NBA team. On the other hand, it allows teams to add roster flexibility, especially as injury insurance throughout the long 82-game NBA season.
For Creek, the two-way deal offers a solid opportunity to hone his craft in the G-League's competitive environment. Being with the Long Island Nets also continues his personal development with NBA-level coaching staff, while staying ready for a callup.
Brooklyn is likely one of the better NBA destinations Creek could have signed with. On the Long Island Nets --the Brooklyn Nets' G-League affiliate, where Creek will be spending a lot of time at-- head coach Will Weaver, is an assistant coach with the Boomers.
According to NetsDaily, Weaver was closely involved on working with the Nets' two-way player development, which would more than likely make him uniquely qualified to work with Creek, given the Boomers connection, Weaver's skillset and current role.
“All the experience I’ve gained working with really bright people that use those tools well has given me I think a unique perspective, but I’m a basketball coach and to the degree that I can find stuff that helps and be in programs that really are sophisticated like the Brooklyn Nets are, from the way that the GM Sean Marks and the head coach Kenny Atkinson use on a daily basis to try to help them get a little clearer view about how to make decisions.”
Outside of Weaver, it's worth noting that there are other Australians among the Brooklyn staff. Damian Cotter, an assistant coach with the team, used to be assistant coach for the Opals (2013-2016), and was head coach for the 2014/15 Sydney Kings.
Dan Meehan, newly-promoted Director of Sports Science, used to work at the AFL's North Melbourne Football Club as a strength and conditioning coach.
Les Gelis, who was recently appointed as the Nets' director of sports medicine, had served as head of physiotherapy for Football Federation Australia (2010-2018), managing the physiotherapy departments for the Australia Socceroos among other responsibilities.
Creek will be joining an organisation that boasts a strong Australian presence, which will doubtlessly help with Creek's transition to the NBA. There's also the fact that Sean Marks, Nets GM, views the G-League as a development ground for international players like Creek.
“To me, that’s the part of the business that’s really enticing – the curiosity of where’s the next player [coming from]. It could be from the G-League,” said Marks back in April, according to NetsDaily.
“The fact that the G-League has taken those steps now, where you’ll potentially have draft eligible candidates or players coming into the G League, you’ll have foreign guys coming into the G-League early, that’s a terrific,” “I give the NBA a lot of credit for they are trying to develop and tweak how we all use the G League.”
Could Mitch Creek develop into a solid reserve for the Nets? Given the Nets' focus on internal development and Creek's work ethic, it's not impossible.
"The NBA is more than basketball. That’s why so many people are spat out the other end," Creek wrote recently, before the signing was announced. "Only the best make it. I’m doing everything I can to be among them."
That will was succeed was evident, and it's paid off. Mitch Creek is finally among them, and he's made it, of sorts. It remains to be seen if he can fight his way out of the two-way deal and onto a longer NBA commitment. But if anyone can do it, Creek will.