Weeks after walk-out over pay cuts, NBL superstar Bryce Cotton signs three-year deal with Wildcats

Less than four weeks after opting out of his previous contract, Bryce Cotton has returned to the Perth Wildcats on a new three-year deal, saying he couldn’t be happier sharing the news.

Cotton, the NBL’s reigning Most Valuable Player, opted out of his last contract with one season remaining after the NBL and Australian Basketball Players Association decided to cut player salaries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the time it was considered a massive blow for both the Wildcats and the NBL, with Cotton widely considered to be among the best players ever to play in the league.

But he is now set to be a part of Perth’s bid for an unprecedented third straight championship and sixth title in eight years.

Bryce Cotton has signed a new three-year contract with the Wildcats.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

“I’m back for the next three seasons and I couldn’t be happier sharing this news,” Cotton said in a statement released by the Wildcats.

“There’s no place like home.”

Contract length won over Cotton

Cotton said the length of the new contract the Wildcats offered was a big factor in his decision.

“I honestly didn’t think I was coming back, which was why I put that heartfelt [Instagram] post out,” he said.

“Once we had discussed a contract extension in a long-term sense, that was what was best for me overall.”

With Cotton now locked into spending the next three years in Australia, the prospect of citizenship and representing the Boomers in international competition is back on the agenda.

“Just considering I’m back, that’s definitely a great bonus,” he said.

“It’d be an honour to play for the Boomers.

“It’s definitely an honour but it didn’t play a factor [in my decision to stay in Perth] because I was thinking elsewhere at the time.”

Cats retain Cotton for the ‘peak of his career’

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said he was thrilled to have the competition’s best player locked in.

“Bryce is only 27 and to have him for the next three years and watch him at the peak of his career in a Wildcats jersey, it’s going to be a fun ride.”

Trevor Gleeson

Trevor Gleeson

Perth Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson is thrilled to have Cotton back.(ABC News: James Carmody)

The American-born Cotton first joined the Wildcats in January 2017 during a season in which the club had struggled to find imports who lived up to its standards.

He has gone on to win three NBL titles, and won the NBL’s MVP award in 2018 and 2020.

He was named MVP of two grand final series, including the most recent, which was called off three games into the best-of-five contest due to the pandemic.

The Wildcats were eventually declared winners having taken a two-one lead