Australian big-man Jock Landale has signed with Melbourne United for the 2020-21 NBL season, sources have told ESPN.
Landale's deal is for one year and will make him the NBL's highest-paid local player, sources said, with the 25-year-old set to suit up for his hometown team after playing in Europe for the first two seasons of his professional career.
The contract has an NBA-out clause for the majority of the front portion of the NBL season, sources said.
Landale, 6'11, trained with the United roster over the course of the off-season while he and his representation worked toward the next stint in his career. Despite significant interest from high-level teams across Europe, that ended up being a one-year deal with Dean Vickerman's team, joining Chris Goulding and Mitch McCarron as the prominent local players on the roster.
Landale's most recent stint was with Žalgiris Kaunus, where the Melbourne-native averaged 11 points and 4.4 rebounds per game during EuroLeague action. He parted ways with Žalgiris on August 3, 2020, with an eye toward an NBA contract, but was still under contract with the Lithuanian team. Late last week, United officials began the negotiation with Žalgiris to buy out Landale's deal, sources said.
The signing of Landale completes United's roster for the 2020-21 season, where he'll join Goulding, McCarron, Scotty Hopson, David Barlow, Jo Lual Acuil Jr., Shea Ili, Jack White, Sam McDaniel, and Yudai Baba. The team still has the option of filling a Next Stars spot.
The starting power forward for the Australian Boomers at the 2019 FIBA World Cup, Landale told ESPN earlier in the year that he had hopes of earning an NBA contract during the 2020 Free Agency.
"My sole focus is on making this off-season count because it's time I'll never get back," Landale told ESPN in July. "That's all in the lead-up to hopefully signing an NBA contract in October. I feel ready."
When it became clear that Landale wouldn't earn a guaranteed NBA deal for the upcoming season, signing in Europe or the NBL became an option, with United emerging as the frontrunner. Because of the Landale signing, United will enter the new season with just one import.
Undrafted out of Saint Mary's in 2018, Landale chose to begin his professional career with KK Partizan, all while continuing to perform on the NBA Summer League circuit. Landale's breakout moment came during his time with the Milwaukee Bucks at the 2019-20 Summer League, where he averaged 18.3 points and 7.0 rebounds over four games in Las Vegas.
That performance lifted Landale's profile as he went into his EuroLeague season with Žalgiris, before he emerged as a starter for the Boomers at the 2019 World Cup in China. The Australian national team would end up finishing in fourth place at that tournament.
The 2020-21 NBL season will tip off on Jan. 10, with a matchup between United and the South East Melbourne Phoenix.