Tom Abercrombie is close to signing a new three-year deal with the Breakers that seeks to help his goal of playing in the NBA.
The 24-year-old is still contracted to the North Shore-based club for another season but the two parties are close to agreeing to a deal that locks Abercrombie to the Breakers if he's not playing in the NBA.
The Breakers have long said they want to help players make it to the NBA - every player has a clause that allows them to leave if they secure an NBA contract - and they believe Abercrombie has the potential to play in the world's best league.
It is understood they are trying to build features into the new deal that help him explore playing in activities such as summer camps and meeting physical targets that might help him achieve his ambition.
Abercrombie was reluctant to talk about his contract but said: "My agent has been talking to [Breakers general manager] Richard Clarke and I think we will have something sorted pretty soon, but I'm pretty keen to hang around at this stage."
The Breakers are hopeful everyone will stick around for next season. They are also in discussions with Alex Pledger and Mika Vukona and have sounded out the rest of the squad to see what their plans and expectations are.
They might find stiff competition for the likes of import Cedric Jackson and will also face challenges trying to keep the squad under the salary and points cap, especially as they enjoy continued success, but Abercrombie is the jewel in their crown.
CJ Bruton said earlier in the season the Breakers were "Tommy's team" and, while Abercrombie is reluctant to accept that, he is enjoying the added responsibility heaped on his shoulders.
He is developing into one of the league's best players and can influence a game at both ends of the court, whether it is scoring (14.6 points a game), rebounding (5.4 a game), blocking (0.9) or finding looks for a teammate (1.6).
It also means he is coming under increased attention from opposition teams and even in training he is subjected to a little rough treatment. He was involved in a scuffle with teammate Dillon Boucher last month, but it's something he's getting used to.
"It's something I have always had to deal with," he said.
"I have never been the biggest or strongest guy on the court. I have my own strengths I try to use to counter that physicality ...
"It's a matter of being ready for it and not being surprised when it happens."
Vukona can often be the brick wall Abercrombie runs into at training. There are few tougher and more committed players than the 29-year-old and it's little wonder the club have made re-signing him one of their other priorities. Vukona is hoping to negotiate a new three-year deal.
"Hopefully we can find a way to make it happen," Vukona said. "I'm pretty confident we can. The Breakers is where I want to stay long term so, hopefully, we can sort it out.
"I don't think there's any problem in [convincing other guys on the team to stick around]. You ask any of the Aussie boys, they want to come over here now because of the structure and how the team is playing.
"Also, you don't want an environment like the [Melbourne] Tigers, which is totally rocky. No one wants that. At the other end of the scale is the Breakers. That's what everyone wants.
"There's no need to try to convince anyone to stay here."APNZ