The hulking Boomers big man is proud of the legacy this generation of Aussie ballers have built and is excited for the future the likes of Josh Giddey, Josh Green, Jack White and Jock Landale and others have ahead of them.The former NBA man and Brisbane Bullet says next year’s FIBA World Cup is still on his agenda as he continues to regain his strength and fitness in the wake of a serious back injury that almost curtailed his career.“There’s never any doubt of mine that, so long as I’m healthy and playing at the level I know I can play at, then that’s always something I want to do,” Baynes told News Corp.“I’ve just got to go out there and prove that I can do that and then we’ll speak about that in the off-season.“But you always want to put on the green and gold and go out there and represent your country.“It’s the purest form of basketball and it’s the ultimate for me to compete with my mates and compete for Australia.”Baynes hailed the young guns who will spearhead the Boomers in the future, proud he can turn on an NBA game and watch one or more of the 10 Aussies strutting their stuff on the biggest stage.“It’s amazing. The best thing is being able to, wherever I’m at, watch as much of their games as I can,” he said.“I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of building Australian basketball over the past few years.“Guys like (NBL owner) Larry Kestelman what he’s done with the league and all the coaches and players and even the past Boomers getting back in amongst it, (Sydney Kings owner and three-time NBA champion) Luc Longley and (San Antonio Spurs assistant and former Boomer) Matt Neilsen — everyone that has gone through and will go through the Australian program we only wish the best for.“That’s the ultimate for us, seeing our mates succeed in the basketball world.“That puts more of a spotlight on basketball here in Australia which, at the end of the day, has been so good to all of us, individually and collectively.“We just want to share it with as many people as we can.”The just-turned 36-year-old has played a key role in building the now-famed Boomers’ culture, with the likes of Patty Mills, Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Ingles recognising the importance of the work of past greats like Phil Smyth, Andrew Gaze and company.“Over the last few years we’ve started understanding who came before us, how much it meant to them and what it still means to them,” Baynes said.“We’ve been fortunate enough to have our core group in there for so long and every single time we put that jersey on, it’s in the forefront of our mind that, not only are we representing ourselves, our family, our friends, the clubs we played for, we’re also representing the guys who have put the jersey on before us.“It’s not something we take lightly and it’s a credit to those guys who came before us that we’ve built an environment that we want to pass on and share with everyone who is coming into the program.”BULLETS CEO ADDRESSES CLUB TURMOIL- Callum Dick and Michael RandallBrisbane chief executive Peter McLennan has broken his silence amid the turmoil engulfing the Bullets, saying the club “lost control” during its month-long coach saga.McLennan announced assistant Greg Vanderjagt would see out the season, denied reports of a rift with basketball boss Sam Mackinnon and guaranteed Boomers great Aron Baynes would be at the club next season.McLennan backed in Mackinnon amid reports their relationship had become “toxic”.Multiple sources have told News Corp tension between the pair had risen amid a power struggle that had become “untenable” after the Bullets’ legend declined an offer to coach out the season to, instead, remain as general manager of basketball.But McLennan said his relationship with Mackinnon was “healthy” and “robust” and said the club great was “part of what we’re doing”.“Sammy and I have a huge responsibility to lead this club, both from him overseeing the basketball department, myself to improve the stability of the club for the long term and the short term,” McLennan said.“Sam and I have a healthy relationship because we debate things.“Is that a rift or things that I’m reading about? If us having really robust, solid conversations to be better, bring it on every day of the week, because that’s a healthy environment.“I don’t want just ‘yes’ people here. I want people to debate things, to challenge things because that is going to make us better.”After James Duncan was sacked and Mackinnon stepped back after four games as interim, McLennan said initial reports American Todd Purves would be the club’s next coach were off the mark. He also denied the Bullets had gauged the interest of former coach Joey Wright, but sources said the well-travelled mentor, who is based in Adelaide, was contacted and told the club he was not interested.It’s understood Baynes, who signed a two-year deal after a miraculous recovery from a shocking back injury that threatened his career, has been frustrated with the direction of the club.But McLennan assured he would be at the Bullets next season: “Yep, yeah, AB’s contracted, so he’ll be here.”News Corp, this week, revealed players had discussed boycotting a game after Mackinnon stood down as coach, a fact both McLennan and Vanderjagt refuted.Vanderjagt arrived at the Bullets in 2019 as head of community development, became an assistant, then interim and is now the club’s mentor for the last 12 games of the season.Incredibly, Vanderjagt revealed that, in 2008, he’d signed with Bullets just weeks before the club folded.He said then-Bullets’ coach Wright phoned him and told him the ownership at the time had pulled its funding, forcing a move to Gold Coast Blaze.The Bullets are languishing in second-last at 4-12 have lost six of their seven games since Duncan was sacked — by an average of 22.5 points. But Vanderjagt hasn’t given up hope of a finals run.“With changing playoff formats and the way the league is right now with the middle of the ladder so congested, we still have a realistic shot at making the play in games and making some noise in the playoffs,” Vanderjagt said.
Share This Post