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Sea Bears sign former NBA first-round pick Byron Mullens

Byron Mullens Orlando Magic Byron Mullens - Getty Images

A long-serving NBA big man is going to make Winnipeg his home this summer. 

The Winnipeg Sea Bears are excited to announce the signing of 7-foot centre, and former first-round NBA draft pick, Byron Mullens ahead of the 2024 Canadian Elite Basketball League season.

“I’m looking forward to playing in front of the great Winnipeg fans I’ve heard so much about. We’re going to do everything we can to bring a championship to the city,” said Mullens. 

Mullens spent five seasons in the NBA after being selected 24th overall by the Dallas Mavericks in the 2009 NBA Draft. Traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder on draft day, Mullens went on to play 189 games in the NBA with the Thunder, Charlotte Bobcats, Los Angeles Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers. 

The 35-year-old averaged 7.4 points and 4.2 rebounds across five NBA seasons, with his most significant contributions coming in Charlotte where he played 118 games from 2011 to 2013. In the 2012-13 season, Mullens averaged career-bests of 10.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Bobcats. That season, he recorded eight double-doubles and scored in double figures 30 times, including a 25 and 18 performance against Boston on Feb. 11, 2013. 

Mullens was signed by the Clippers in the 2013 off-season and later traded to the 76ers.

“His career is well documented, from top high school player in the nation to NBA first round pick and five-year NBA career to stops in several top leagues overseas. Byron has accomplished so much in the game throughout his career and we are very excited to welcome him to Winnipeg. We believe Byron will love Sea Bears nation and become a player our fans love to watch,” said Mike Taylor, head coach and general manager of the Winnipeg Sea Bears. 

A product of Canal Winchester, Ohio, Mullens played one season of college at Ohio State and was named to the all-Big Ten freshman team in 2008-09 after being one of the nation’s most highly-touted high school recruits. 

Mullens comes to Winnipeg most recently from the New Taipei Kings of the Taiwanese P. League+ where he averaged 18.1 points and 10.7 rebounds in 14 games in 2023-24. 

All told, he has appeared in 367 professional games across the NBA, NBA G-League, Taiwan, Turkey, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Spain, United Kingdom and Greece. 

“Adding Byron Mullens, a true veteran who has played at the highest levels all over the world, is an important step for our young organization,” said Taylor. 

“Byron gives a talented 7 footer who can stretch the floor with outstanding shooting touch and brings great experience to our front court.”

Mullens is the ninth professional player signed by the Sea Bears this spring. The franchise recently announced the signing of G League all-star Darius Days, and previously signed Jarred Ogungbemi-Jackson, David Muenkat, Chad Posthumus, Alex Campbell, Mason Bourcier, and Shane Osayande. The team signed 2023 CEBL MVP, import Teddy Allen on Feb. 7 and drafted developmental players Simon Hildebrandt, Tyler Sagl and Shawn Maranan on April 11. 

Mullens becomes the third American import signed thus far by the Sea Bears, after Allen and Days. The maximum number of American players any CEBL team can maintain on their active roster is three. 

The Sea Bears open training camp Monday, May 13 at Sport Manitoba in Winnipeg before they head to Saskatchewan to take on the Rattlers on May 22. The team’s home opener is slated for May 24 at Canada Life Centre against the defending CEBL champions, the Scarborough Shooting Stars.