BILBAO, Spain -- Australian forward Joe Ingles didn't just spark his team Tuesday to a valuable Group D win over Lithuania in the Canary Islands.
He also played himself closer to his NBA dream.
According to NBA front-office sources, Ingles has emerged as a virtual lock to land in the league this coming season -- likely on a guaranteed deal -- on the strength of his strong play here at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Ingles impressed at the 2012 London Olympics as well but, at 26, is still waiting to make his NBA breakthrough. He played at Maccabi Tel Aviv last season for new Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt but is currently unattached after an underwhelming season in Israel.
But Ingles has been an impact player back on the world stage, leading the Aussies with 18 points Tuesday in an important 82-75 triumph over Lithuania, whose status as Group D favorites was endangered even before the defeat thanks to the loss of point guard Mantas Kalnietis to a serious shoulder injury mere days before the World Cup started.
The Philadelphia 76ers, sources say, are indeed one of the handful of NBA teams pursuing Ingles, which is a natural given that Ingles' former national team coach -- Brett Brown -- is now the Sixers' coach. But one source briefed on Ingles' thinking said Tuesday that the 6-foot-8 perimeter specialist is unlikely to sign with Philly.
The Memphis Grizzlies are another team that has expressed interest in Ingles in the past. Ingles played at Barcelona with Grizzlies star center Marc Gasol, who is widely known to be one of Ingles' biggest fans.
The Grizzlies also just waived Jamaal Franklin on Sunday to create a little more roster room, but Memphis has to keep an eye on where it is in relation to luxury-tax territory. The Griz, at present, are $1.2 million under the tax line. Ingles would cost them $915,000 next season, which would obviously put them in tax range.