The basketball journey of Cameron Bairstow has come full circle.
After two NBA seasons of very little play — he saw action in 18 games each of the past two seasons with the Chicago Bulls after being drafted by the team in 2014 — the former University of New Mexico Lobo standout power forward is returning home to Brisbane, Australia, where he has signed a professional contract with the National Basketball League’s Brisbane Bullets.
“I wanted the opportunity to play, first and foremost,” Bairstow told the Journal. “I felt like at this stage in my career I wanted to do what would be best for my basketball development, and the opportunity Brisbane presented was too good to turn down in that regard.”
That doesn’t mean a return to the NBA is out of the question, he said. His contract with his hometown team is for one year with a player option for a second season. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“In the future I would love to be back in the NBA given the right situation,” Bairstow said.
The 6-foot-9 forward is preparing for next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he will represent Australia on its men’s basketball team, the Boomers.
Last month, Bairstow was traded to the Detroit Pistons, who informed him last week he would be waived, though he still appears on the team’s online roster.
The signing is considered somewhat landmark news for his hometown team and to the professional league in his home country.
The first paragraph on the team’s website announcing the news reads: “The Brisbane Bullets are delighted to announce one of the biggest player signings in National Basketball League history, with Cameron Bairstow returning home from the NBA.”
Bairstow played for UNM for four seasons from 2010-2014. In a breakout senior season in which the Lobos won 27 games, Bairstow averaged 20.4 points and 7.6 rebounds.
The Bullets’ NBL regular season opener is Oct. 6.