NBA-bound Freeland skips warm-ups

11 July 2012 / 17:49

Joel Freeland will miss Great Britain's Olympic warm-up games against Portugal in Sheffield this weekend as he flies to the United States for a medical ahead of joining the National Basketball Association's Portland Trail Blazers.

Freeland, 25, has agreed a three-year deal with Portland, although the player, Portland and his current Spanish club Unicaja Malaga must also come to terms on the 1.5million euro release clause on his contract there, which has two years left to run.

Freeland was originally drafted by the Blazers as a raw teenager in 2006, but was told by the team to remain in Europe and refine his game, making this move the culmination of years of hard work.

British Basketball performance director Chris Spice congratulated Freeland on Wednesday's news.

"This is a fantastic news for Joel and in our view is richly deserved," he said. "Joel is a great player who continues to make an outstanding contribution the the GB programme. We wish him well in this new challenge."

Freeland was playing in relative obscurity with Gran Canaria II in the Spanish third division when the Blazers drafted him six years ago. He soon broke through with the Gran Canaria senior team in Spain's tough ACB league before moving to Unicaja Malaga where he was a team-mate of fellow GB international Robert Archibald until the latter's move to CAI Zaragoza last year.

The 6ft 10in Freeland made his GB debut in 2006 and established himself as one of the team's leading players with some outstanding displays in the 2011 European Championship.

Unicaja confirmed the news of his intention to head to the NBA on Wednesday.

"Unicaja player Joel Freeland has informed the club of his decision to end his contract and move to the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA," said a statement on the Unicaja website. "After receiving this statement from the British player, Unicaja is now waiting to formalise a definitive agreement between the three parties involved; the player, the Portland Trail Blazers and Unicaja."

While Freeland has been granted permission to travel to Portland and miss the games in Sheffield on Saturday and Sunday, he is expected back in time for Thursday's meeting with the United States in Manchester.