Wellington Saints owner Nick Mills admits the loss of Casey Frank is significant, but the blow has been softened with the signing of BJ Anthony.
It means the Shane Heal-coached Saints have replaced one Tall Blacks power forward with another, as stalwart Frank joins former Wellington coach Pero Cameron at the Waikato Pistons.
Mills said the Saints tried hard to retain Frank, who has commuted from Auckland to play for Wellington since 2010.
But while the Saints had made a competitive offer, Mills said they had simply been outbid by the rebuilding Pistons.
The experienced and emotional Frank has been the heart and soul of recent Saints teams but Anthony is nonetheless a fine replacement.
The powerfully built 25-year-old had a career-best season with Otago last year, averaging 20.3 points and eight rebounds and leading the Nuggets to the playoffs for the first time since 1997.
He is now playing for the Adelaide 36ers, who are second in the ANBL with a 13-win, seven-loss record. Anthony is averaging 4.4 points and 3.3 rebounds for the 36ers.
"Beny is an exciting addition to the Saints roster, he is a very good scorer and rebounder," said Fran Scholey, the Saints' new general manager.
"I think more importantly Beny plays hard and never shies away from the challenge."
Already on the Saints' books are point guard Lindsay Tait and the versatile Dion Prewster.
The Saints are hoping to retain Tall Blacks shooting guard Corey Webster, while Jordan Mills and Damien Ekenasio are also expected to return.
Wellington also have two import slots open for the new season, which tips off on April 2 against Hawke's Bay.
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