Goulding sticks with Melbourne after Lual-Acuil departs

Chris Goulding has ended one of the NBL's greatest three-point shooting seasons by signing a two-year contract extension with Melbourne United.

It is a boost for the competition's runners-up, who have lost Jo Lual-Acuil Jr for next season after the star centre turned down a player option in order to pursue opportunities overseas.

Fellow big man Ariel Hukporti could also be on the way out if he is selected at the NBA Draft in July.

Captain Goulding still had one year left to run on his existing deal and is now tied to Melbourne until 2027.

"I wouldn't want to be anywhere else," the 35-year-old said.

"This is our home, we've been here for a long time, so the ability to be staying here with the club for another two years is something that myself and my family are excited about."

A three-time NBL champion, Goulding was part of Melbourne's title-winning teams under long-term coach Dean Vickerman in 2018 and 2021.

But he was denied a fourth ring last month when United were beaten 3-2 by the Tasmania JackJumpers in the best-of-five Championship Series.

"All I want to do is bring more success to the club," Goulding said.

"Being here with our fans and feeling their support is unbelievable.

"The way the club is having us play in front of sold-out crowds each week is everything you wish for as a basketball player."

Goulding set several records in an outstanding individual contribution throughout his 2023/24 campaign.

He made the most three-pointers in a season during the 40-minute era, which dates back to 2009, by draining 140 shots from long range.

Goulding also landed the most three-pointers in a Championship Series (21) and now boasts the most scored in all Championship Series games (63).

He is sixth on the list for three-pointers made in league history.

Melbourne have locked away the bulk of the roster that finished top of the regular-season ladder with a 20-8 record.

Goulding is joined by Matthew Dellavedova, Shea Ili, Luke Travers, Kyle Bowen, Tanner Krebs and Flynn Cameron on the full roster.

Meanwhile, cross-town rivals South East Melbourne have re-hired former head coach Simon Mitchell in a newly created role as general manager of basketball operations.

Mitchell, who coached the Phoenix for their first four seasons, will focus on recruitment and basketball strategy.

He will also work closely with current head coach Mike Kelly.

South East Melbourne have just four players under contract for next season - Mitch Creek, Owen Foxwell, Matt Kenyon and Ben Ayre - with the free agency period set to open on Monday.

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