Joe Ingles traded to Portland by Utah Jazz, Josh Giddey sees NBL win in LaMelo Ball’s All-Star snap and Aussie Opals set for Serbia in FIBA World Cup Qualifiers
Ingles, his wife Renae, and their three children are settled in Salt Lake City, and it’s hard to see Portland demanding that he move while he’s rehabilitated.
Ingles’ contract could be traded before Friday’s trade deadline if another team seeks a salary cap margin for next season.
Ben Simmons could still potentially move teams, potentially for James Harden from Brooklyn, if the Philadelphia 76ers change their minds and trade him before Friday’s deadline, but a deal seems unlikely.
Giddey celebrates Ball’s All-Star selection
Josh Giddey followed LaMelo Ball’s lead in using the NBL as a launch pad for his move to the NBA, and now Ball has hopefully shown the Australian guard the way to becoming an NBA All-Star.
The 19-year-old Oklahoma City Thunder rookie has often referenced Ball’s season as the NBL’s Next Stars player and becoming a top three pick in the NBA draft as reasons for his decision to play a season with Adelaide 36ers instead of going to American college basketball.
Giddey said he was thrilled for Ball and for the NBL when Charlotte Hornets goaltender and San Antonio goaltender Dejounte Murray were called up to the All-Star Game on injury replacements.
“It’s great to see. He was one of the reasons I decided to stay home and play in the NBL, just watching him and RJ Hampton and the successes they had,” Giddey said this week.
“Seeing the legitimacy of the NBL as a path was something that made it easier for me.
“With Melo being an All-Star, I’m happy for him. He deserved that. He’s been terrific leading the Charlotte team. That says a lot about the NBL and how good the Next Star journey is.”
Ball and Murray are great guards, like Giddey, who have a variety of skills and appear to be playmakers. Their elevation could be a sign that NBA coaches and officials may look to Giddey in the future. he was turning his stellar rookie season into an even stronger campaign next season, as Ball is only in his second season.
Giddey will get a taste of NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland as he was selected to play in the Rising Stars Game and was also entered into the Skills Challenge while fellow Aussie Patty Mills competes in the three-way contest points.
Serbia ‘hospitable’ as Opals start World Cup qualifiers
Australian Opals coach Sandy Brondello says the people of Belgrade, Serbia were “hospitable” to the team during their FIBA Women’s World Cup qualifier this week.
The Opals as hosts and Team USA as gold medalists are guaranteed a World Cup in Sydney in September, but are playing for match practices.
Brondello is resetting his team after the loss of Liz Cambage and a lack of serious play saw the team miss out on a medal in Tokyo.
The Opals have several new faces, including guard Shyla Heal, but will play without star center Ezi Magbegor due to injury and will face Brazil, Serbia and Korea.
After Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic was sent off ahead of the Australian Open, there were fears the Opals would face an undeserved backlash.
“We’re in a bubble in our hotel, so we go to practices or games and then we come back, but everyone has been hospitable,” Brondello said.
“The game [against Serbia] will probably be a bit different, but you have to get used to these environments, we faced Spain in the semi-finals of the last World Cup in Spain. It’s the host country so you’ll have passionate fans and you’ll have to go out there, handle the pressure and play well when the crowd isn’t with us.
“We also have to remember that at the World Cup the home crowd will be with us.”
Brondello said his Opals will chase three wins in what is expected to be a tightly contested tournament with Sami Whitcomb, Alanna Smith, Cayla George and Rebecca Allen all among the players expected to take on key roles.
“We want to win, but it’s more about playing well,” Brondello said.
“I don’t want to focus on the result. It’s just about playing the right way, learning from our mistakes, but also [realising] it is an evaluation period.
“So there’s pressure on ourselves to perform as a team because we want to do well, we want to play well.”
The Opals will face Brazil on Thursday at 10 p.m., Serbia on Sunday at 7 a.m. and Korea on Monday at 1 a.m. (AEDT) with ESPN and Kayo showing matches live.
What could have been as Wagstaff plays 400th
Six-time NBL championship winner Jesse Wagstaff is due to play his 400th game for the Perth Wildcats against Melbourne United at John Cain Arena on Saturday.
He played his entire career for the Wildcats and 56 games were in the Finals. He also holds the NBL record appearing in nine major final series.
But the 35-year-old could have started his career at Victoria if the then South Dragons hadn’t gone bankrupt before his rookie season in 2009.
In a video posted on his club’s social media this week, Wagstaff said he was waiting for a contract offer from the Dragons when his agent called to say the team was no more.
Luckily, Wagstaff also had a connection to then-Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge which led to a lifeline in Perth where he thrived.
“I had known Bevo for a long time, my mother had taught him in elementary school, so he was like a friend of the family,” Wagstaff said.
“I was lucky he got the Perth job and I gave up and got a contract with Perth.”