Braswell expected to rebound from axing

NOT ALL BAD: Southland Sharks American import Kevin Braswell has been axed by the Melbourne Tigers.
NOT ALL BAD: Southland Sharks American import Kevin Braswell has been axed by the Melbourne Tigers.

Kevin Braswell's axing from the Melbourne Tigers could end up having a silver lining for the Southland Sharks.

The 33-year-old American point guard was cut by the Tigers on Monday, just five games into the Australian National Basketball League season.

He will be replaced by former NBA player Jonny Flynn, who has had stints with Minnesota, Houston and Portland.

Braswell has played for the Sharks in the New Zealand league over the past two seasons and late last month signed a two-year contract to remain with the Invercargill-based franchise.

With Braswell no longer a member of the Tigers, he could potentially participate fully in the Sharks' pre-season preparations and be available for the start of the season in April.

Sharks coach Paul Henare said he had yet to speak to his former New Zealand Breakers' team-mate about his plans for the next few months, following his sacking from the Tigers.

Braswell may decide to look to Europe to try to secure a contract or wait around and see if an opportunity arises at another ANBL club, through injury or lack of form to another import player.

The Baltimore native has applied for New Zealand citizenship and, if successful, would be able to play as a local player in the league.

His high points rating of nine would make it difficult for teams to include him under the salary cap, however.

Henare planned to talk to Braswell in the coming days and said he remained a valuable member of the Sharks' organisation.

Braswell picked up an injury to his left knee during pre-season, which had hindered his play in the opening weeks of the season for Melbourne.

It is understood Braswell's knee was beginning to improve but the Tigers felt it necessary to make a change at the point guard position.

"It doesn't change anything from our point of view," Henare said. "It might be a blessing in disguise for ourselves and Kevin. He'll have the time to get it completely right.

"Reading between the lines, teams use those sorts of things as an excuse. As far as I'm aware, from what Kevin was telling me, the knee was getting better every day."

Braswell averaged 10 points and 5.2 assists in his five games with the Tigers, who won their first game of the season on Sunday.

The death knell effectively fell on Braswell after a horror showing against the Breakers in Melbourne last month, where he scored just one point and shot 0 from 9 from the floor.

Henare said Braswell had been solid without being spectacular during the opening weeks of the season and felt he may have been the scapegoat for his team's poor play.

"If you take out the game against the Breakers, his numbers haven't actually been that bad. The team's problems go a lot deeper than the play of Kevin Braswell," he said.

"Although they have signed a pretty good player [Flynn], I still don't think it will be the answer to all their problems."

Braswell has played professionally all around the world during the past decade and Henare tipped him to rebound from his latest setback.

"I'm sure he'll be fine. He's a pretty tough cookie," he said. "He's been through a lot worse in his life. He'll come out as right as rain."

Henare said the Sharks had made offers to several New Zealand-based players for next season and were hopeful of luring them south. Braswell and Hawke's Bay Hawks power forward Morgan Natanahira are both confirmed signings for next season.

With the defending champion Auckland Pirates withdrawing from next year's competition, every team in the league will be circling for the likes of Lindsay Tait, Alex Pledger and Dillon Boucher.