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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Wildcats thrilled to secure Pinder

Perth Wildcats general manager of basketball operations Danny Mills says the club was delighted to secure the signature of their key free agency target Keanu Pinder.

The club announced on Saturday morning that Pinder, who recieved All-NBL Second Team honours last season after averaging 17.0 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for Cairns, had joined on a two year deal.

Mills told Sports Breakfast the club had been monitoring Pinder, who is spending the NBL offseason playing with Fuenlabrada in Spain, for several years.

“He kind of started off a little slow as a professional, and then his last two years in Cairns, to go over there and produce two seasons where he won back-to-back Most Improved awards, I think it’s kind of unheard of, really,” Mills said.

“You look at what he’s doing now in the Spanish ACB League and putting up big double-double numbers, I think he’s averaging 20 and 10 in the five games he’s played there.

“Really, really excited. I know he’s excited to get back home to Perth and be around family and friends and play in front of the Red Army at RAC Arena.”

The Pinder news came on the back of the club announcing the departure of young gun Luke Travers, whose NBA rights are owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers after he was taken with the 56th pick of last year’s draft.

Mills said the club was deeply disappointed to lose the 21 year old.

“You never want to lose young, talented players that you’ve had through your program. Luke spent four years with the club and developed through the Wildcats system,” he said.

“You could definitely see the steps in his development he was taking and I think some of those games at the back end of the season … you could just see the growth in his game.

“We were in deep discussions with his management about securing him for longer, but their view was he needed to get out of Perth, he needed to grow outside of the comfort of home.”

The Bryce Cotton citizenship saga has reared its head again, with the superstar revealing to The West Australian he had been told he was ineligible due to a 30 minute period between his normal visa being cancelled and his distinguished talent visa being granted.

Mills said the situation was “very frustrating”.

“It’s been something I’ve been dealing with behind the scenes for the 20, 21 months I’ve been in this position,” he said.

“Just for life in general, he wants to be an Australian, he’s got a wife and a daughter who are Australian, he’s been in Perth for the last seven years, he’s got a right to be an Australian, really.

“We’re working diligently with immigration lawyers and things to make that a reality, but like all things it takes time and we’re working through the process there.”

The changes are set to keep coming at the Wildcats, with Mills confirming the club was in discussions around the future of contracted players Mitch Norton and Todd Blanchfield and associate head coach Mike Kelly taking up the lead role at South East Melbourne Phoenix.

The club announced this morning that 20 year old power forward David Okwera had joined from Melbourne United on a three year deal.



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