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Jonah Bolden's Aussie reunion in Philadelphia might have to wait

CAMDEN, N.J. -- Jonah Bolden took his first steps into the Philadelphia 76ers' sparkling practice facility on Friday morning, but it didn't take long for it to feel like he was back in Australia.

An Aussie reunion took place when Bolden -- a second-round pick by Philadelphia in Thursday's draft (the 36th overall pick) -- ran into old friend and rival Ben Simmons at the team's facility. The two Sixers players were born in Melbourne and played against each other early on as kids.

"He said he is excited [and], 'You are going to love it here,'" Bolden said of his conversation with the first overall pick of the 2016 draft. "He loves it here, and he is really excited for what is to come."

Bolden not only knows Simmons, but he is familiar with Sixers head coach Brett Brown, who started his pro coaching career in Australia's National Basketball League. Bolden's American father, Bruce, played against Brown's teams during their NBL days.

"You know, having an Australian coach, having Australian teammates definitely helps," Jonah Bolden said. "I just know I can approach them off the court and know I can speak to them on a daily basis about anything. I know that, coming from Australia, we all have each other's backs, so that definitely helps.

"[Brown] has the utmost trust and confidence in me, and likewise I do with him," Bolden added. "[My father] played against Brett's team, and Brett coached him in an all-star game. The Australian community is so small and tight. Even if you don't know him personally, you know someone who knows him, and sometime in the future you will get to know him."

It remains to be seen when Bolden will actually play for the Sixers. The big man, who averaged 13 points and seven rebounds for FMP Belgrade in Serbia last season, recently signed a two-year deal with Red Star Belgrade. Bolden says he wants to play for the Sixers this season, but a buyout would need to be worked out with Red Star.

"There's uncertainty right now," Bolden said. "I am subject to a contract over in Europe. Obviously, I am prepared and ready to play in the league. Whether that is the plan for the [Philadelphia] organization or not is not in my hands. They drafted me with a plan, and I believe they have the best plan for my future, whether that is playing over here or overseas."

Bryan Colangelo, Sixers president of basketball operations, said international draft picks "are subject to contracts with their clubs and certain buyout language."

"Those discussions will be had with their agents and representatives," Colangelo said Friday when asked about the plan for Bolden. "Some of those clauses would suggest that they would not be coming immediately, but everything is up for discussion and debate as we build this roster."

The 6-foot-10 Bolden, who was at UCLA for two years before going overseas, said he always had to go up against the 6-foot-10 Simmons growing up.

"We never played with each other," Bolden said. "It was always a rivalry."

Bolden hopes he will soon be catching passes from Simmons for the first time while being coached by Brown.

"I feel like I am a great fit for this team," Bolden said. "Look at Ben, being a point guard at 6-11; that for me is already a great fit, knowing your point guard is as big and long as you.

"I feel I can provide shooting, length, defensive and offensive versatility, my ability to get the rebound and push the floor and create for others. I run the lane, I am a great teammate and I am very excited."

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