Breakers owner Matt Walsh has denied saying Corey Webster was the worst starting guard in the ANBL in 2018-19. But he did admit communicating to Webster's agent that "statistically", he was the worst.
Walsh joined Radio Sport's Jim Kayes to help lift the fog on the disruptive Breakers pre-season and quashed any chance of releasing Webster from his contract with the club to take up an offer from Turkish outfit Darüşşafaka Basketbol.
Webster, 30, has been one of the most dominant players at the FIBA World Cup in China over the past few weeks, putting up big numbers for the Tall Blacks against heavyweights including Greece and Turkey - a far cry from his meagre output for the Breakers last season.
Walsh explained Webster would not be released by the club unless his contract was bought out, and also addressed suggestions he told Webster he was the worst guard in the ANBL.
"Those words never came out of my mouth and of course they didn't come out of my mouth sitting next to Corey Webster," Walsh told Jim Kayes.
"What I said to his agents was statistically he was the worst starting two-guard in the league last year...I believe in Corey and I've told him as much."
Averaging 23 points per game on a shooting success rate above 50 per cent at the World Cup, Webster caught plenty of worldwide attention. He was approached with an offer from Darüşşafaka Basketbol, and met with Walsh and Breakers director of basketball Dan Shamir after returning from the World Cup this week to discuss it.
Webster was signed to a three-year deal with the Breakers last year, with no out clauses in his contract.
"We told him he's one of our best players, he's coming off a World Cup where he was one of the top performers, we invested a lot in him this off-season...and we're a week out from the season," Walsh said.
"We told him in order for there to be any chance of him leaving there needed to be a financial and business incentive for the club. We spoke directly with Darüşşafaka Basketbol and they told us in no uncertain terms that there is zero dollars they would contribute to a buyout.
"We have Corey under contract for another two years. He's one of our best players; he's totally irreplaceable - there's not another Corey Webster in New Zealand. For us, it's a no-brainer - we have to keep him, he's so important to our team."
Like many of the Breakers, Webster is coming off the back of a season full of struggles, making less than 40 per cent of his field goals through 27 games of the season.
However, his performance at the World Cup is a sign of what he is capable of and Walsh said the Breakers were excited by what they saw from him.
"Internally, of course we knew there'd be interest," Walsh said. "He was among the World Cup leaders in scoring. He's killing it; he's giving 30 points to Turkey, 30 points to Greece - nobody can stop him.
"Us, we're salivating thinking this guy's going to change our team this year, this is the Corey Webster we'd always hoped we could have but, of course, it's a business. We understand teams are interested, and that's why it's so great for us that we have him under contract for another two years.
"If we get that Corey Webster, we're competing for the championship."