Kiwi NBA hopeful Kirk Penney has been cut loose by the San Antonio Spurs -- but has not given up hope on breaking into the big league.
His New Zealand club, the Breakers, have decided to give him a few more days to secure a deal elsewhere in the NBA but have made it clear that if nothing is forthcoming they expect him to return to play an immediate role in the upcoming Australian NBL season.
Penney is contracted to the North Shore-based Breakers for the next two seasons, but was released to pursue his NBA dream with the Spurs at their veterans' camp and subsequent pre-season campaign.
However it was always going to be a difficult prospect for the 29-year-old to force his way on to the regular season roster for the Spurs, with the Kiwi star having to nudge out players already signed to guaranteed contracts.
Penney played 17 minutes in the Spurs' first pre-season match against the Houston Rockets and scored nine points on four-of-nine shooting. But it was clearly not enough to impress coach Gregg Popovich.
He wasn't required in Sunday's second outing against the Miami Heat, and was today released by the Spurs. Penney was reported to be deeply upset by his turn of events with the Spurs but did inform his employers at the Breakers of his bad news.
Breakers General Manager Richard Clarke said the club felt deeply for Penney and at this stage had not put a hard timeline on his return.
"Kirk is obviously feeling quite down at the moment, this is his dream and it is one the club has supported. He is understandably disappointed," said Clarke.
"He feels he has the game to compete at this level, and his time at the Spurs has only confirmed that for him. For now we have given him some time to check any other NBA offers that might emerge on the back of his time at the Spurs."
Clarke said the club expected to have a clearer picture of Penney's availability in the next 48 hours or so.
"If nothing is on the table, Kirk will be returning to the Breakers, possibly in time for our first home game next Wednesday (October 20)."
Clarke said it was highly doubtful that Penney would return in time to play any part in the NBL opener at the Sydney Kings on Saturday night.
Penney would be an even longer shot to pick up a spot elsewhere in the NBA, with most teams already close to finalisng their rosters for the regular season and the financial squeeze forcing most to maintain minimum numbers.
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