The Wellington Saints have joined the New Zealand Breakers in offering Corey Webster a lifeline when the talented Kiwi guard returns from a drugs ban.
Webster, who was suspended for cannabis use in 2010, and using synthetic cannabis product Kronic last year, can return to competitive basketball when his one-year ban ends on September 15.
The 23-year-old has served his time stacking shelves at a supermarket and is expected to be officially welcomed back into the Breakers fold when the two-time ANBL champions finalise their roster tomorrow.
Saints owner Nick Mills said Webster - who won an NBL championship with Wellington last year - would also be welcomed back to his organisation.
"When he got into trouble I said we'd pick him up in a heartbeat," Mills said.
"My son Nick's been contacting him the whole time, asking, ‘are you all right, we want you back'.
"Absolutely, I'm a huge fan of him and I think he is the best player in New Zealand right now. I think he's a great winner, he can score the ball in any way, he can do lots of things.
"I think he's a point guard, he's played as a two guard for most of his career, but I would like to see his future as a point guard. I think he's got more to offer."
The Saints were beaten by the Auckland Pirates in this year's NBL grand final and Mills said signing Webster and Tall Blacks veteran Casey Frank was the club's priority.
"Both have been part of Saints' success and both fit the mould in our organisation of growing a team around a family. They are both highly sought after and highly ranked players but we're hoping we get them."
Gold Coast-based Pero Cameron is off contract after coaching the Saints for the past three seasons, and Mills said they were negotiating towards a new deal.
"He's put his requests in, now we've got to pore over it and see whether we can commit to what he wants. But we've got the ball rolling."
Mills believed Auckland, this year's semifinalists Manawatu Jets, and Southland Sharks, who have signed Paul Henare as coach, were already title frontrunners.
"They're the three that have got the resources. I think three of the top four have been decided before a ball has been thrown in the air."
- © Fairfax NZ News