Saints march in new stars for tilt at title
Are the Wellington Saints assembling their best-ever squad?
That question will be answered on the court next year but yesterday's capture of Lindsay Tait on a three-year deal means it is certainly up for discussion.
The Tall Blacks point guard joins fellow internationals Corey Webster, Casey Frank and Dillon Boucher on Pero Cameron's star-studded roster, while the Saints still have two import slots open should they choose to fill them.
"I don't know about that," Saints boss Nick Mills said of the best-ever tag. "Frank Mulvihill [former Saints player] keeps telling me about 1989 but I look [it] up and we didn't win anything in 1989, so it can't have been that good."
Tait, 30, led the Saints to the 2010 and 2011 titles before jumping ship and piloting the Auckland Pirates to this year's NBL championship - his seventh overall.
"We're, basically, going to build our short to mid-term future on him being our point guard and team leader," Mills said. "It's the biggest deal we've ever done - length-wise or financially. It's a big deal. Lindsay was upfront and honest about his reasons for playing in Auckland . . . family always comes first and we 100 per cent support that."
Cameron described Tait as the most dominant point guard in New Zealand.
"He trains hard and prepares for games like a true athlete," Cameron said. "He's a great leader and role model for the rest of the team."
Mills said the Saints would initially sign just one import but could add another if Boucher's Breakers commitments ruled him out for a significant portion of the season, which tips off on April 1.
The Breakers' regular season ends on March 22, with playoff games to follow.
The return of Tait and Webster means this year's outstanding import, Jason Crowe, will almost certainly be surplus to requirements. The Saints are also talking to Dion Prewster - who played for Southland this year - about a return, while the door remains open for veteran guard Troy McLean.
Locals Arthur Trousdell, Damien Ekenasio and Jordan Mills are already signed.
The Saints have stolen a march on their rivals with the signing blitz, triggered by last year's unexpected off-season exodus.
"Realistically and honestly, I think we just learnt a lesson last year," Mills said. "So we just got in early . . . and away we've gone."
Saints so far: Lindsay Tait, Corey Webster, Casey Frank, Dillon Boucher, Arthur Trousdell, Damien Ekenasio, Jordan Mills.
Still to come?: One or two imports, Dion Prewster, Troy McLean.
The Dominion Post