Creek to join Phoenix - unless NBA deal is secured

Mitch Creek Photo by Alex Nahorniak-Svenski/NBAE via Getty Images

Australia Boomers star Mitch Creek has been recruited as the first marquee signing by new NBL franchise South East Melbourne Phoenix.

Creek trained and played for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA pre-season but was cut before the regular season began.

He remained in New York, joined the Nets' second-tier G League team the Long Island Nets hoping for an NBA deal, but said he was open to a return to the Australian league if the right offer came.

The one team he said he would not play for was the Adelaide 36ers, insisting he had too many "bad memories" of his departure from Adelaide after eight years with the team.

The 26-year old from Horsham played for the 36ers between 2010 and 2018 and was a member of the Boomers' 2017 Asian Cup winning side.

Creek, who will reportedly have a clause written into his contract allowing him to switch to an NBA team in the U.S. if required, said he was delighted to be back playing in Australia.

"It's great to be back in the NBL, which I think is in the top three leagues in the world," he said in a club statement.

"To be back in my home state is really cool. I see the potential we have at Phoenix and it gives me goosebumps.

"To be part of a new franchise, there are so many positives for me. I can see myself building a career and a future in something that's bigger than basketball.

"We're going to have our backs against the wall, we're the new team and I can't wait to get started and build a huge rivalry with Melbourne United in the heartland of basketball."

Phoenix general manager Tommy Greer said: "Mitch is without doubt one of the best Australian players outside of the NBA and we are thrilled to sign him as our first marquee player.

"He is not only a very talented player but will bring strong leadership skills, and is someone we can build a roster around as we prepare to take to the floor next season.

"We have said we would be aggressive in our pursuit of players and we look forward to making more major announcements about our roster in 2019."

Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell added: "Mitch is someone I have long admired from the opposition bench. His toughness and love for the contest are infectious and that's a wonderful foundation to build upon."