The New Zealand Breakers confirmed today that shooting guard Kirk Penney is heading to the United States to take up an invitation to play at NBA Veterans Camp with the San Antonio Spurs.
As has always been the case with Penney, the club will not stand in the way of a possible return to the NBA for the 29 year old and while there is no firm contract offer for Penney, the invitation from the Spurs to attend what is effectively an NBA trial was an opportunity too good for Penney to turn down.
Breakers General Manager Richard Clarke said it was with mixed emotions that the decision was taken to allow Penney to go.
"This club has never hidden from the fact it won't stand in the way of players' careers or personal development and in the case of Kirk Penney that means a chance at the NBA. That doesn't make it any easier to confirm today that Kirk is leaving to chase that dream.
"And that is where the difficultly comes in, the Breakers absolutely wish Kirk all the best with this opportunity and yet there is still a small chance he might return in a few weeks time having given it his best shot but is then available for us in the iiNET Championship.
"I have to say though it is a testament to the players, the coaches and the entire club that he goes with our complete support and belief that he can make it and go from a Breaker to the NBA."
Penney admitted the timing wasn't great and yet couldn't be avoided.
"This club and the guys on the team mean so much to me and I have loved every minute of the past three years. But we have always been up front about this sort of opportunity; I have always been open about a desire to get back to the NBA and the club has been equally supportive if the right offer came along, this could be that opportunity and it is one I have to seize despite the poor timing. I have to see if I have what it takes to make it in the toughest professional league in the world.
"There is no guarantee of an offer at the end of this process however; it is up to me to impress the right people and show I can be of some value to the Spurs in the NBA. I am going to give it my best shot and have no regrets. I certainly leave for now with a heavy heart and wishing the Breakers every success, I know the dream of winning a championship is very much still alive with the players and the coaches at this club whether I am here or not."
For the meantime the Breakers are already looking at all options open to them in Penney's absence, a process that is complicated given the uncertain nature of that time away.
"We are already in discussion with various agents and players and looking at who is available and how they might fit into the roster," said Clarke.
"But given the uncertainty over the length of Kirk's absence, we are not going to rush into any decisions. We have a talented roster of players, some of whom might now be asked to step into some big shoes and play a slightly different role over the next few weeks.
"But our goal of winning a championship hasn't changed; the Board and management will do everything within their power to give Andrej the resources and playing talent to do that this season."
- Herald Online