The New Zealand Breakers have all but resigned to their fate this season and allowed Corey Webster to join the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions in China on a short-term deal.
Webster has agreed to join the Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association on a short-term loan after the club offered the Breakers a lucrative buyout deal.
It won't be the end of Webster's tenure with the Breakers however, with the 31-year-old agreeing to an extension with the club that would see him remain in Auckland until 2023.
Speaking to media about Webster's contract in China, Breakers director of basketball Dan Shamir said their 4-10 record made the decision to let him leave a bit easier.
"He's not going anywhere if it's 10-4, let's be honest," Shamir said.
"This season has been challenging from day one, and this is definitely not an upgrade for the team. My approach is always to take it for the next game and compete; look for the three or four things we need to do and we'll keep doing that. Will we in the 14 games that are left? I don't know, I can't promise results.
"It doesn't mean we're going to rest or be less professional."
The Breakers have struggled to a 4-10 record to the halfway point of the season, sitting four games behind the Adelaide 36ers who currently hold the fourth and final playoff spot. Webster's new Chinese deal means he is now unavailable to play against the Melbourne Phoenix in Christchurch this weekend and he was expected to leave the country in the coming days.
For Webster, who leads the Breakers in scoring with 19 points per game, it was an easy decision to accept the offer. The CBA is one of the top leagues in the world, with their imports often being high-level former NBA players. Webster joins the club a week after eight-year NBA veteran Kenneth Faried was cut from the team and said the opportunity to play in the CBA was unexpected.
It's the second opportunity Webster has had to ply his trade in a league overseas, after an approach by Turkish club Darüşşafaka was knocked back by the Breakers at the start of the season.
"When that didn't go through, that was nothing personal against the club," Webster said of being unable to link up with Darüşşafaka. "I love being a Breaker; this is where I've played the majority of my pro career.
"I wasn't out there looking for a deal, I was trying to win with this team. This just happened to come about.
"Leaving halfway through the season is a little bit disappointing for me, I feel bad a little bit but this is an opportunity that is going to change some things for my family. No one in their right mind would strictly turn it down without even considering it.
"It's a life changing opportunity for now, but the more important thing for me is I'm returning to the Breakers. My heart's in this club, with everything that's gone on, I still believe in the road we're taking, the focuses and the plans of the club."
To cover for the hole Webster leaves, Tall Blacks Shooting Guard Ethan Rusbatch becomes a full rostered player. The 27-year-old initially joined the club in pre-season as a Nominated Replacement Player for Tom Abercrombie.