Saints import Warren axed for former Breaker

IMPORT BATTLE: Andrew Warren has been axed by the Saints to make way for Rick Rickert.
IMPORT BATTLE: Andrew Warren has been axed by the Saints to make way for Rick Rickert.

Andrew Warren is in shock after being cut by the Wellington Saints.

Coach Pero Cameron delivered the bad news to the American import on Tuesday night and Warren took to Twitter yesterday to vent his surprise.

"Didnt know there was consequences to winning," Warren wrote.

"Especially winning 4 in a row."

The shooting guard has lost his place to former Breakers big man Rick Rickert, who will make his Saints debut at home to Hawke's Bay next Wednesday. Small forward Bryant Markson retains his spot after a string of impressive performances.

Cameron said he hadn't made the decision lightly.

"It was really hard, because of the person he is," he said. "To his credit he took it well. I know it's hurting him, I've been in that situation before, as a player and as a coach, and it's never easy. But I think he handled it well."

Warren has been a solid contributor for the 8-2 Saints but while he scored 16 points in Monday's win over Waikato he was outshone by the athletic Markson.

Cameron said injuries to Mike Homik and Damien Ekenasio forced his hand.

"It's not finger-pointing Andrew. I just think our bigs weren't getting the job done and Markson's played really well in the last four or five outings."

Warren was a popular member of the Saints and Cameron acknowledged he faced a challenge in keeping the team chemistry together.

"I'm sure emotionally it's not been great for everyone, but at the end of the day they're professionals and their hunger to win will get them across the line. I'm sure they'll deal with it."

The 2.11m Rickert was the No 55 pick by the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2003 draft.

He was unable to crack the NBA but made headlines after copping a chipped tooth and seven stitches thanks to a pick-up game "sucker punch" courtesy of all-star team-mate Kevin Garnett.

Rickert has since enjoyed a successful, globetrotting, career and played for the Breakers between 2007-10.

He originally arrived in Wellington as a one-game replacement for Warren, who was suspended for the win against Otago last week.

But while red tape prevented Rickert taking the court against the Nuggets, he has since gained clearance.

Cameron informed Saints owner Nick Mills of his decision yesterday, and Mills said Warren could consider himself unlucky. "He has done absolutely everything perfect, on and off the court.

"He got suspended, which I think was a referee blunder, not his blunder. He's been amazing, he's a great guy and if the situation was different we'd welcome him back with open arms and he'd be the first import we'd ever try and get.

"That's how highly I praise him and it has come as a shock to him, even though we knew that one of them was going to go home," Mills said.

Warren will pack his bags and prepare for the European season.

His departure will mean a big workload for Corey Webster, who missed Monday's game to rest an ankle injury.

The Dominion Post