Basketball: New Zealand Breakers part ways with Corey Webster

By Niall Anderson

Corey Webster. Photo / Getty
Corey Webster. Photo / Getty

The New Zealand Breakers have parted ways with Corey Webster, ending his nine-year stint with the franchise.

Webster will not be offered a new deal at the Auckland-based franchise, calling to a close a Breakers career which saw the shooting guard win three ANBL titles since signing as a development player in 2008.

Breakers general manager Dillon Boucher confirmed that the club and Webster have mutually decided to decline the third year option on his contract and go in different directions.

"We've spoken a lot to Corey and spoken to Corey's agent and we've both agreed that it would be best that Corey looks further afield and probably take his talents out of New Zealand and looks to further his career outside of New Zealand for now, and get away from the distractions that are in his life within New Zealand," Boucher told Radio Sport.

"We mutually agreed that it would be best for him to ply his trade for another team and probably move out of New Zealand and start from fresh for a different team."

Webster had a difficult 2016 campaign with the Breakers, coming into the season under an injury cloud which impacted his on-court production. Off the court, Webster was arrested at a Takapuna nightspot in November, and faces two charges of assault and one count of assault with intent to injure. Webster has denied the charges, and is set to reappear in court this month.

Boucher admitted the off-court incident came into play when the club was making a decision on Webster's future with the team.

"The off-court stuff always has to come into the equation. Corey's made some mistakes in his life and a lot of times we've given him opportunities to come back and right those wrongs and I think this time here, with his performance on court, with his injuries and some distractions off court, of course that is going to come into factor when you're looking to re-sign a guy."

Listen: Dillon Boucher talks to Radio Sport

The Breakers had previously cut ties with Webster in 2011, releasing him from his contract after he tested positive for synthetic cannabis.

He was given a second chance the following year, and shone at the club, becoming one of the premier shooting guards in the ANBL.

Webster's play in the 2014-15 season made him a key contributor to the Breakers' title-winning team, and earned him a stint in NBA preseason with the New Orleans Pelicans. Webster played three preseason games before being one of the last men cut from the roster, returning to the ANBL and continued his strong form.

Corey Webster playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. Photo / Getty
Corey Webster playing for the New Orleans Pelicans. Photo / Getty

The Tall Blacks regular averaged 19.8 points per game in the 2015-2016 season, making the All-ANBL second team, but declined this year due to niggling injuries, only averaging 11.7 points per game on 36% shooting in 15 contests.

Webster is now playing for the Wellington Saints in the New Zealand NBL, with an eye to later earning a new contract, potentially in Europe.

Boucher believes Webster can have success in a fresh environment.

"He's got a lot of distractions here with what's gone on in his personal life, he's obviously had his injury problems this year, he's rehabbed well in his offseason and is now fresh and fit with the Wellington Saints and we feel he's going to be very valuable to someone's organisation.

Another rotation player off-contract with the Breakers is centre Rob Loe, but Boucher says he is likely to return.

"We definitely want to retain Rob. We thought he was great for us on the court, Rob's definitely one we will be looking to retain. He's pretty keen to come back, we'll just have to work out the finer details and hopefully we'll have a signature on paper soon."

Last season's imports Akil Mitchell, Paul Carter and Kevin Dillard are all also keen to return, but the Breakers are unlikely to make decisions on import signings until after the NBA Summer League in July.

Kirk Penney, Alex Pledger, Finn Delany, Shea Ili, Mika Vukona and Tom Abercrombie are contracted to return next season.

- NZ Herald

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