Basketball: Breakers confirm Penney will staySave
By Steve Deane
Star shooting guard Kirk Penney will remain at the Breakers next season despite his name appearing on a free-agent list released by the NBL yesterday.
Penney is contracted for next season and has an option for 2013, Breakers general manager Richard Clarke confirmed. Penney appeared on the free-agent list because the Breakers had yet to register him beyond this season - a technicality that arose from Penney taking time off at the start of the season to pursue his NBA options.
Veteran guard CJ Bruton is also on the free agent list, but Clarke said the club had reached a verbal agreement with the 35-year-old over a one-year extension to kick in when his original three-year deal expired at the end of this season.
Although there has been some talk around the league that Penney may be looking to exit, Clarke said the ANBL's leading scorer had confirmed his intention to stay.
Penney has an out-clause that would enable him to take up an NBA offer - something pursued at the beginning of this season with San Antonio - but otherwise is fully committed to the Breakers.
"His only out is an NBA-out so he is with us for next year," Clarke said.
The only major unknown for 2012 is swingman Tom Abercrombie. The high-flying 23-year-old wants to test himself in Europe. He is contracted to the Breakers for two more seasons but has a break clause that would enable him to buy out his contract to take up a European offer.
However, with an NBA lockout looming - a development that would flood the European market with top tier players - offers for an untested Kiwi may be limited.
"Tom is pretty happy here," Clarke said. "But I guess he has to look at what his options may be."
Discussions about Abercrombie's future would take place at the end of the season.
Retiring point guard Paul Henare is the one player the club will definitely need to replace. Mika Vukona and Dillon Boucher are both contracted for next season, while Alex Pledger and Corey Webster are contracted until 2013. Imports Kevin Braswell and Gary Wilkinson will both become free agents at the end of the season but the Breakers will likely attempt to keep both.
"As we've always done we'll look at what our local options are before confirming the import positions, but obviously the two imports we've got we've been pretty happy with, so I don't really foresee a lot of change for next year," Clarke said.
The minor premier Breakers have a week off ahead of Wednesday's final regular-season home match against Adelaide. This weekend's matches will go a long way to determining who the Breakers face in the semifinals. Fourth-placed Cairns host Perth on Saturday knowing a victory would eliminate fifth-placed Wollongong.
However, a Perth victory would keep the Hawks alive going into their final regular season match against Sydney on Sunday.
Townsville can take a big step towards securing second place if they beat Melbourne on Saturday night.