Basketball: Breakers release Anthony

The back-to-back championship winning Breakers have made their first personnel move of the off-season, cutting loose power forward BJ Anthony. Photo / Getty Images.
The back-to-back championship winning Breakers have made their first personnel move of the off-season, cutting loose power forward BJ Anthony. Photo / Getty Images.

The back-to-back championship winning Breakers have made their first personnel move of the off-season, cutting loose power forward BJ Anthony.

The club today explained the decision as giving Anthony a chance to pursue increased game time elsewhere, but the 23-year-old has been plagued by off-the-court issues.

Anthony was reprimanded after being caught drink driving on the night of the Rugby World Cup final, and in February was hit with a 10-day suspension for turning up to training worse for wear.

The Breakers are known to value their players' personalities as much as their basketballing abilities, with owner Paul Blackwell famously describing the club as having a "no dickheads" policy.

That was further illustrated by the Breakers last year terminating Corey Webster's contract following his second indiscretion concerning recreational drugs.

At the time of his suspension in February, Anthony acknowledged his struggles with the lifestyle of a professional athlete and said Webster's fate was one he wanted to avoid.

"I spoke to Corey last week and said, 'bro, I know how you feel, I know that shitty feeling you must have had'. He said, 'you don't know how I felt, I'm not in the team any more'. I was like, 'that's true'. I got a small taste of it. It must feel horrible. There's definitely zero per cent of me that wants to feel that way again."

But now Anthony has followed his former teammate out the door, although coach Andrej Lemanis insisted the decision was down to a surfeit of riches at the club. Breakers general manager Richard Clarke did not return calls.

"The reality of the situation is that because we have good players, and they want to stay with us, it puts pressure on the ability to find roles for everyone," Lemanis said. "For BJ, with Dillon [Boucher] and Mika [Vukona] on the roster, there wouldn't be the opportunity for him to step into a bigger role and we wouldn't be being fair on him.

"He deserves the chance to find an opportunity to have a bigger role and keep developing."

With Vukona confirming a new contract in recent weeks and Boucher on the verge of signing for another season, Anthony's potential playing time would have been inhibited. But the club were able to find a role for him earlier in the season, though his appearances diminished following his suspension and an ankle injury which followed.

The Breakers would be remiss to let go a player that has come through their development system, but it seems the club reached the end of their tether with the troubled Tall Black.

Lemanis left open the possibility Anthony could return to the club in the future, with the coach pointing to the path of Vukona and Boucher who spent seasons in Australia before returning to help deliver consecutive championships.

"We would definitely see an opportunity for BJ to return as a Breaker in the future. He has come through our development programmes, and it shows that our development programmes are working in that we are creating pressure for positions on the roster.

"It is tough for BJ in this instance, however I am sure he will continue to develop and show what a good player he is going to be. Right now we just don't have the opportunity in our roster for him to continue that development at the Breakers."

- APNZ

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