The import merry-go-round continues apace at the Wellington Saints, with Ernest Scott the latest American to jet out of the capital yesterday.
Even by Saints standards it has been a busy season of hiring and firing, with Scott following JR Cadot and Elijah Obade to the departure lounge.
But while Cadot and Obade were axed for performance reasons, Saints boss Nick Mills said that was not the case with Scott, who was in his third stint in Wellington.
The veteran forward replaced Cadot before the start of the season, prior to Saints coach Shane Heal's arrival.
"Ernest was only out here on a month to month contract because we weren't sure whether Shane wanted him," Mills said.
"But during that period of time he got offered a training position with the Antigua Olympic team. So he came to us and said 'either sign me for the rest of the season or I'm going to go and do the Antigua thing.' He's also got another job in August, for a pretty high profile team in Europe so, to be fair to him, we let him go."
That leaves the newly arrived Brandon Bowman as the only import on the Saints roster.
Mills said the Saints had identified their preferred replacement for Scott but had not agreed terms.
Before flying out yesterday, Scott posted a thank you message on the Saints' Facebook page.
"I want to thank the Saints organisation, fans, coaches, and especially my brothers (teammates) for being so great throughout my time in Wellington," Scott wrote.
"This was my third stint with the Saints and it's always a pleasure to be part of such a first class organisation. I have no doubt the Saints will be champions when this season is over. I wish nothing but the best for all involved with #saintsfamily. God bless."
Mills made no apologies for the import merry-go-round but admitted the constant chopping and changing made it difficult to build a champion side.
"It's a lottery when you bring an import out. But they are paid to do a job and if they don't do it then they've got to be replaced. They're a gun for hire."
Mills said the Saints' contracts had a clause which allowed them to release imports for performance reasons without any pay-out.
With an 8-4 record, the Saints are in second place on the NBL ladder.
They will be without BJ Anthony (calf) for Monday's game against the Manawatu Jets in Palmerston North.
"I'm hearing anything from 10 days to three weeks," Mills said.
Meanwhile, Mills was set to meet with the Saints squad last night to re-emphasise the club's off-court standards.
Three Southland Sharks players were arrested and charged with assault with intent to injure following an alleged "all-in brawl" outside a New Plymouth bar in the early hours of Sunday morning.
"I just want to lay down the law, look them straight in the eye and tell them that if you're going out, please be aware, be careful.
"Because if you get yourself in trouble then you won't be playing in a blue Saints jersey - it's as simple as that."
- The Dominion Post
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