Breakers import Wilkinson weighing options

MARC HINTON
Last updated 12:17 30/06/2011
Gary Wilkinson
MARK TAYLOR/Waikato Times
UNDECIDED: Breakers import Gary Wilkinson is still chasing opportunities in Europe before deciding whether to accept a two-year deal to return to Atlas Place.

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Star NZ Breakers import Gary Wilkinson says he wants to "weigh" his options before deciding on whether to accept a two-year deal to rejoin the club.

The Breakers are desperate to get Wilkinson back after the big American from Utah played a pivotal role in the North Shore-based club securing their first Australian NBL title.

The 29-year-old averaged 15.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and shot nearly 54 percent from the floor during an impressive debut season for the Breakers who went 22-8 to claim their first minor premiership, and then outlasted the Perth Wildcats and Cairns Taipans to secure an historic championship.

Wilkinson, who is spending the American summer in Logan, Utah, told his former college website that he would assess his options in Europe before deciding on whether to commit to what he admits is a tempting offer from the Breakers.

"New Zealand has offered a two-year deal for me to go back there, which is a great situation," he told the Utah State Aggies website. "We're going to just weigh our options.

"We had a great year so a lot of good things are coming up. We'll most likely head back to Europe and we'll see what teams are interested and what offers they have compared to what New Zealand's got."

It's understood the Breakers significantly upgraded their one-year contract they had Wilkinson on for the 2010-11 season, but it may not be enough to keep him if a major European club decides it likes the American's solid inside-out game.

The one thing the Breakers have in their favour is Wilkinson's familiarity, and preference, for the quality of life in Auckland.

He and wife Jessica have just had their first baby, son Jordan James, and they have made no secret of their liking for the family environment at the club and the lifestyle on the North Shore.

Wilkinson said it had been rewarding to be part of the Breakers' title breakthough -- the first time a New Zealand club had triumphed in an Australian competition.

"There was a lot of fanfare and people were pretty excited about it and it got pretty huge," he told the website. "It was fun to watch the sport grow over the season."

The Breakers have just the two import slots to fill on their roster, though they are awaiting an August 1 deadline on Kirk Penney's contract which allows him to take up a big-money offer from Europe.

It's expected Penney would be back, and if Wilkinson re-signed that would leave them just looking for a point guard to replace Kevin Braswell whose ruptured achilles tendon almost certainly removes him from the picture for the first part of the new season.

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Breakers coach Andrej Lemanis has been casting an eye over contenders in the New Zealand NBL, including Waikato Pistons guard Jason Crowe, but will look to leave that call as late as possible to assess availability on the international market.

- Stuff

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