Breakers want to land stud import point guard

SHOPPING LIST: Breakers coach Dean Vickerman, centre, will attend the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas with a keen eye.
SHOPPING LIST: Breakers coach Dean Vickerman, centre, will attend the NBA's summer league in Las Vegas with a keen eye.

The Breakers have all but ruled out chasing a big-name Australian for next season, saying they're keeping a significant amount of their salary cap for a run at a stud American point guard.

After last week's surprise announcement they were releasing Australian shooting guard Daryl Corletto with a year still on his contract, the three-time Australian NBL (ANBL) champions are set to undertake their most dramatic roster makeover since their emergence as a genuine force in the league.

They now have five spots to fill for next season, with Kiwis Mika Vukona, Tom Abercrombie, Alex Pledger, Corey Webster and Reuben Te Rangi the only incumbents still on deals to play next season.

But a cloud hovers over Te Rangi's future, with the youngster before the courts dealing with an assault charge as a result of an incident while he was with the Southland Sharks in New Plymouth during this year's NBL season.

Regardless of how the Te Rangi situation plays out - and the Breakers say it's out of their hands until the legal process is completed - it is going to be a new-look Breakers lineup seeking to bounce back from their horror 2013-14 season under rookie head coach Dean Vickerman.

"It's something we didn't do well enough going into his first year and say 'OK, what does your team look like, versus what does Andrej's team look like'," Breakers boss Richard Clarke said. "This year we've been very clear about how does Dean want his team to play, and what are the key attributes so we've got a precise recruitment plan in terms of base things like athleticism, toughness and defensive ability."

Clearly Corletto didn't fulfil those requirements, though Clarke said an anticipated expanded role for Webster also played into their thinking with cutting the sharpshooting Aussie loose.

It does leave the club with the room to make a run at some key people, though Clarke didn't think a top Aussie, along the lines of previous signings Tony Ronaldson and CJ Bruton, would be in their thinking.

"I don't think there's a big name Aussie out there that fits the bill we need. The only one we looked at was Damian Martin who would have been a good fit but he's pretty entrenched in Perth.

"When we brought CJ and Tony in it was very much to help establish a culture, but I don't think that's an issue right now.

"The cap space we have more allows us to sign a top-level import point guard. If it's not [former Breaker and league MVP] Cedric [Jackson], it's someone of that quality who commands that sort of budget. That's more where we'd want to use our cap space right now."

Clarke said discussions were ongoing with Jackson's agent, but no decisions on imports would be made until after Vickerman had attended the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas.

In terms of the three local spots, Clarke said the club hoped to start crossing people off over the next four to six weeks. Veteran Casey Frank remained in the club's thinking, as did last season's development player Duane Bailey who is having a standout NBL season for the Super City Rangers.

The Breakers have some financial commitment to Corletto for the remaining year of his deal but with the veteran guard expected to pick up a contract elsewhere, that should be minimalised.

Tall Black Kirk Penney remained out of the picture for next season as he was committed to finishing his degree at the University of Wisconsin, while fellow international Rob Loe's situation remained unchanged - his agent says he's looking to play in Europe if he misses out on a long shot at being drafted in the NBA.

Clarke confirmed Pledger had made a full recovery from ankle surgery and had been working hard to return to full fitness, while the Te Rangi affair remained a watching brief.

"We've known Reuben since he was 13, and he does generally have a strong character. A situation like this is disappointing for everyone but it's his response that is going to be important." 

Sunday Star Times