Great Britain international Joel Freeland looks set to stay with Unicaja Malaga next season after his current club rejected an approach from FC Barcelona.

The centre, who was named in the All-ACB team this season, had become the key summer signing target of the 2010 European champions despite the €2 million fee required to invoke an escape clause in the contract which the Englishman agreed two years ago.

But Malaga’s bosses have insisted that Freeland is ‘untouchable’ in initial informal talks with Barcelona, having vowed to re-build their team around him following a disappointing campaign. And it is a decision which the former Portland Trailblazers draft pick is comfortable with.

Freeland will return for GB this summer

“I’d prefer to be an important player in a team like Unicaja and to develop here, over being a secondary player on another team where I’d be on the bench,” he told El Sur.

“I know that if I stay in Malaga, I’m going to play more minutes at a high level but if I go to a stronger club, I won’t have that key role.”

Malaga sporting director Manolo Rubia, speaking on Spanish radio, revealed that the Euroleague club will offer Freeland a contract extension.

However, it seems all but certain that Robert Archibald will be leaving the Andalucian side.

Meanwhile Portland, who hold Freeland’s NBA rights, have indicated that they might attempt to bring the Briton to the USA in 2012 when his contract buy-out will be less prohibitive.

“Next summer we’ll take a really hard look at bringing him over,” Blazers interim GM Chad Buchanan told The Oregonian.

“He’ll be 25 and starting to enter the prime of career and will have another high-level European season under his belt. Next summer, we’ll have serious discussions about it.”


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