Breakers chase Sydney Kings power forward
The New Zealand Beakers will be hoping their pursuit of Sydney Kings power forward Darnell Lazare is more successful than their bid to lure Kiwi college star Isaac Fotu back from the University of Hawaii.
The Breakers put what sources described as a "significant" offer in front of Fotu in case their former development player decided to cut short his college career after a year and return to New Zealand.
The young Tall Black was said to be flattered by the club's interest. But it's understood he has told the Breakers he will return to Hawaii to follow up an extremely promising freshman season.
The Breakers are now aggressively portraying themselves as a viable alternative to the American collegiate system for young New Zealanders looking to combine their hoops with an education.
They will soon unveil a partnership with Massey university which will further solidify this aspect of player development.
The Breakers have also spoken at length with schoolboy sensation and development player Tai Webster, who has already logged one impressive campaign with the Tall Blacks.
Webster is heading to the University of Nebraska, but the club wanted the youngster to understand the opportunities that also lay at home - and with the added benefit of being able to be paid.
The club maintains a watching brief on all Kiwis at college in the States, well aware that not all last the full four-year term. Both Tom Abercrombie and Corey Webster played just a year on scholarship, before electing to return to the Breakers.
The threepeat champions are hopeful their play for Lazare will be more successful.
They have targeted the American power forward to fill their second import position, with the other spot being kept open for league MVP Cedric Jackson, depending on how his tilt at the NBA pans out.
As of yesterday the Breakers had not learnt whether Lazare was prepared to accept their offer which it's understood was for less then he was paid by the Kings for the 2012-13 season.
Lazare averaged 11.3 points and 7.2 rebounds for the Kings - relatively modest numbers which mean he is only rated as a nine-point player under the league's cap system. Most imports carry a maximum 10-point rating.
New Breakers coach Dean Vickerman has identified the need for their second import to be a specialist power forward capable of covering at centre.
They used Will Hudson in that slot last year, but he was principally used as a backup for Alex Pledger at centre.
With Dillon Boucher's retirement, the champion club's needs have shifted slightly.
Meanwhile, it looks likely the Tall Blacks are going to be without Kirk Penney, Rob Loe and almost certainly Steven Adams for their series against Andrej Lemanis' Boomers later this year.
Penney was non-committal when quizzed by Fairfax Media on his availability but it's understood he has told coach Nenad Vucinic he will sit the season out.
Penney has been in spectacular form in the Turkish league, yesterday scoring a game-high 27 points (10/14 FG, 4/5 3PT) as he helped his TED Ankara Kolejliler club to a 1-0 lead in their quarter-final series against Anadolu Efes.
Loe has remained in the US to attend summer school as he looks to gain the extra credits he needs to graduate from St Louis at the end of his fourth and final year of eligibility.
And it's extremely unlikely Adams will make his first appearance for the Tall Blacks, with the big Kiwi tipped to be a first-round pick at the upcoming NBA draft and sure to be tied into summer commitments with whichever team chooses him.
Meanwhile, former Breakers import Gary Wilkinson has secured his third consecutive national championship as his BC Kalev/Cramo club have claimed the Estonia league title.
Wilkinson won back-to-back crowns with the Kiwi club before heading to his new team.
- © Fairfax NZ News