Jazz's Joe Ingles Says He'd Be Open to Returning to NBL After NBA Career Ends

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2020

Utah Jazz's Joe Ingles (2) shoots during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday, July 30, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis, Pool)
Ashley Landis/Associated Press

After his time in the NBA comes to an end, Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles could finish out his professional career in the NBL.

"I've always said I would love to finish in the NBL," the Australian native told the NBL podcast (via ESPN.com). "It's where I started and it would be awesome to finish in front of family and friends."

The 32-year-old spent the first few years of his career in the National Basketball League, playing for the Melbourne South Dragons from 2006-09. He was a two-time All-Star, winning the league's Rookie of the Year award in 2007 before winning a title in 2009.

He eventually moved on to Spain and Israel before joining the Jazz in 2014.

Ingles has represented Australia on the international stage at the Olympics and FIBA World Championships, helping the Boomers reach the quarterfinals of the Olympics in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

His production has carried over into the NBA as a key part of Utah's rotation. He averaged 9.8 points, 5.2 assists and 3.9 rebounds per game this past season, ranking third on the team in win shares behind only All-Stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, per Basketball Reference.

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The high level of play and a contract that runs through the 2021-22 season will keep him in the NBA for at least a little longer, but he still plans to keep a return to the NBL open. He noted one factor will be the health of his autistic son, Jacob.

"The thing that would keep us probably in the States a bit longer, if I was playing or not, is Jacob's therapy," he said. "It's so good here...a lot of it now is depending on what my family wants. We will see where it kind of goes, I would love to stay in the NBA, I would love to play in the NBL."

While the NBA was on hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ingles said he would retire if it meant helping his son.

"If you had to tell me that you could never play again to protect Jacob from this, I would walk away, fly to Australia and never play another game in my life and be very content with it," he told Sam Amick of The Athletic in March.

If the move allows it, however, the South Dragons could end up re-signing one of the biggest stars in the country. Ingles indicated he would give his former team preferential treatment if he does return to the NBL.

"I would probably only play in Melbourne unless someone did some really high level recruiting."