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Aussies suit up for NBA season

28 October 2013

BASKETBALL: Andrew Bogut won't be the only Australian suiting up for an NBA team this season, with Boomer point guard Matthew Dellavedova doing enough to join the big show.

Guard Patrick Mills and forward Aron Baynes also return with the reigning western conference champs the San Antonio Spurs. Dellavedova's Cleveland Cavaliers are also home to star guard Kyrie Irving, who maintains dual Australian-US citizenship but has elected to play for Team USA at future Olympics.

Former Australian Olympic head coach Brett Brown will coach the Philadelphia 76ers.

Dellavedova makes the NBA cut with Cleveland

Matthew Dellavedova has been affectionately called a Neanderthal, a headbanger and a non-athlete in recent weeks, but from this date on he'll be known as a genuine NBA player.

The Australian Olympic point guard has officially become a member of the 2013-14 Cleveland Cavaliers. The team cut its roster to 15 players on Friday and after much speculation Dellavedova survived.

"Excited to be playing for the Cavs this year!" Dellavedova wrote in a Tweet accompanied with a photo of a locker emblazoned with his name.

The 23-year-old, a stand-out in US college basketball with California's St Mary's, made the NBA the hard way. He wasn't drafted after working out with numerous NBA teams, then he spent the off-season proving himself on the Cavs' Summer League team.

He wasn't as quick as the Cav's Australian-born star guard Kyrie Irving and couldn't jump as high as most in the NBA, but the 193cm tall Dellavedova's leadership, toughness and willingness to work won over head coach Mike Brown.

"I'd bet half my salary that I'd get a dunk before he does, and I'm not even playing anymore," Cavs coach Mike Brown joked recently with US reporters.

"He's a non-athlete, but he gets everything out of his body you could hope or ask for. That's all you want."

Former Boomer coach Brett Brown, who is now head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, promoted Dellavedova to starting point guard at the London Olympics.

When the 76ers played the Cavs in a recent pre-season game the former Australian team coach also gave Dellavedova a backhanded compliment.

"He's a country Victorian, true Aussie that is a headbanger," Brett Brown said of the Maryborough-born guard.

"He plays with reckless abandon.

"He at times might not be pretty, he's a little bit Neanderthal in how he goes about his business, but he's for real."

Dellavedova will be one of the lowest paid players in the NBA with a two-year partially-guaranteed $US1.3 million ($A1.35 million) contract, but you won't hear him complaining.

Australia's other NBA players are the Golden State Warriors' Andrew Bogut and San Antonio Spurs' duo Patrick Mills and Aron Baynes.

Bogut ready to repay Warriors' faith

In August a towering figure unexpectedly walked through the front door of the Golden State Warriors' training facility.

It was Andrew Bogut.

While most of the NBA's multi-millionaire stars were still vacationing in the Caribbean or embarking on promotional trips to China to sell their new line of Adidas or Nikes, the big Australian was ready to work.

The Warriors were holding voluntary workouts in August that usually attract young players hoping to make it on the team, but just like these desperate athletes, Bogut had plenty to prove to Warriors' management.

They liked what they saw.

The microfractures in the 213cm, 118kg centre's left ankle that forced him to sit out more games than what he played since the Warriors acquired him in a trade in March, 2012, had mended.

The 2013/14 NBA season begins on Wednesday AEDT and Bogut and the Warriors are looking to the future, not the past.

In a vote of confidence on Friday the Warriors gave Bogut a three-year contract extension worth $US36 million that could balloon to $US43 million if he stays healthy, makes the All-Star team and achieves other benchmarks.

"Size is a scarcity in the NBA and so we felt like this is somebody that we needed to have going forward to be a successful NBA team," Warriors general manager Bob Myers said.

Bogut would have likely made more money if he tested the free agent market at the end of the season, but he senses something special with the Warriors.

He wants to lead the Warriors to an NBA championship.

"I feel like I'm a leader vocally and defensively on this team," Bogut told reporters after signing the new contract.

With Bogut injury-free, All-Star power forward David Lee backing him up, the addition of Denver swingman Andre Iguodala, the return of snipers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and their beloved coach Mark Jackson calling the shots, the Warriors are the dark horse.

Warriors' management rolled the dice by handing $US36 million to their big man from Melbourne on the eve of the new season and are expecting a return on their investment.

"Andrew showed a commitment to our organisation by showing up early, the condition he came in and sent us a message that he is serious about being part of this organisation," Myers said.

"He's the type of player you want to bet on."

LeBron James and his Miami Heat are the overwhelming favourites to repeat last year's NBA championship win.


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