Controversial Waikato Pistons import Eric Devendorf has been released from his contract, just hours after spending time in a Napier police station.
However, Pistons boss John Davey said the incident wasn't the reason behind Devendorf's dumping and he was currently working to find the high-scoring American basketballer a job with another New Zealand side.
Davey said Pistons coach Dean Vickerman wanted a different type of point guard to run his side's offence rather than Devendorf, who netted 49 points on his debut for the two-time defending champs but struggled to make an impact in his most recent outings.
The former Syracuse University star was involved in an incident at a Napier bar following Waikato's 78-73 loss to the Bay Hawks on Friday night.
"He was at the bar with the other players and the Bay Hawks' Josh Pace, who was a team-mate of his at Syracuse," Davey said.
"He may have commented on an approach to Pace that he may have felt was threatening and got involved, though knowing his history he should have walked away," Davey said.
"But he did his best to protect Pace and the police got involved in the incident that finished with him cooling his heels for a few hours." Davey said no charges were laid and the incident "leant no weight to our decision to cancel his contract".
Devendorf was suspended at Syracuse in late 2008 for allegedly striking a female student over a traffic incident and had to serve 40 hours' community service. He was already on disciplinary probation at the university from another incident.
On arrival in New Zealand, the 22-year-old said "the thing that happened was definitely blown out of proportion".
"It was a little altercation I had – it definitely wasn't physical at all, it was verbal."
Davey said the Pistons, who lead the 2010 league with six wins from seven matches, were seeking a replacement import for Devendorf, who averaged 24.4 points per game with the Pistons.
"Undoubtedly Eric is as good a shooter as I've seen come here," Davey said.
"But coach Dean Vickerman felt we needed a specialist point guard to run the plays and run the team.
"What we were asking him [Eric] to do was maybe outside his comfort zone.
"Dean felt if we were to go all the way again for a three-peat and need to beat better teams we may have been exposed the way we were going."
Davey said the Pistons were hoping to secure an imported point guard before their next match against the Harbour Heat at home on April 22.
However, their first choice, Oliver Lafayette, who has been starring in the NBA Development League, has apparently been picked up by the Boston Celtics.
- © Fairfax NZ News