Byron Mullens has returned to the states.
The Oklahoma City Thunder center who last month signed with the Greek basketball club Panionios had a change of heart and decided to come back home.
“Felt out of the loop not being with my team here,” Mullens said via text message after landing in Ohio on Sunday night.
Mullens left for Athens on Sept. 21. But infrequent games in the Greek League, coupled with a desire to participate with his Thunder teammates in organized voluntary workouts helped lead to his decision to return.
Mullens’ contract with Panionios had a termination clause that would have allowed him to return if the NBA lockout was lifted.
“We enjoyed it,” said Mullens, who traveled to Athens with his newlywed wife, Sharissa. “But at the end of the day, it wasn’t worth not being here with my crew.”
Because of his obligations to Panionios, Mullens had missed out on team workouts in Austin, Texas last month and Lexington, Ky. last week. Several Thunder players, including Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Nick Collison, Nazr Mohammed, Royal Ivey, James Harden, Cole Aldrich and rookie Reggie Jackson attended both.
It’s unclear whether Thunder players have organized a third week of workouts.
Durant, however, is planning to host an All-Star exhibition game in the Oklahoma City area in the coming weeks. The event is expected to bring several Thunder players, as well as NBA All-Stars from around the league to town. Following a star-studded exhibition at Florida International University on Saturday night, Miami star LeBron James sent a message to Durant on Twitter saying, “Thanks for coming through homie! Looking forward to the one in OKC.”
In the meantime, Mullens is expected to continue working out individually in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio in preparation for the season.