It looks like the New Zealand Breakers will be playing the rest of this NBL 2019/20 season out without star guard, Corey Webster.
According to an announcement made on Wednesday morning, the club confirmed a buyout --reportedly $150,000, according to Sportando-- was signed with the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions (浙江广厦猛狮) of the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) earlier this week, with the paperwork finalised on Wednesday.
At the same time, Webster had also signed a two-year extension with New Zealand, and will return to the team after his time in China is concluded, which will be after April 2020.
“We didn’t anticipate an offer like this coming through, but this is a win for both the Breakers and Corey and his family. Obviously, we do not want Corey leaving midway through the current season when we have just got our full roster back, but that has to be balanced by what is the best decision for the club and for the player," Breakers owner, Matt Walsh said. “I gave Corey my word after I knocked back the Darüşşafaka offer in September that I would take any new offer seriously which had a positive business outcome for the club and Corey and his family.
"Corey’s commitment to sign a two-year extension at the Breakers and keep him here until 2023 after playing in China is something we are all excited about.”
Webster also expressed his gratitude to Walsh in the release, prior to his departure for China.
“I thank Matt for his professionalism in assisting me to accept this life-changing opportunity,” Webster shared. “It’s important that Breakers fans know that I’m not turning my back on the club, I am just setting my family up for the future, and I have every intention of being back as soon as this short-term contract ends.”
Webster's absence will be a tough hit for the Breakers, who are second-last on the ladder with a 4-10 record, but have played well when healthy, as discussed by Brad Winter.
When they’re clicking and (relatively) healthy, there aren’t many teams as versatile on both ends of the court. On offence, they can attack you from every conceivable angle, while on the other end, they can capably utilise pretty much any coverage. Between Ashley, Abercrombie, Finn Delany, and Scotty Hopson, the Breakers are loaded with long, quick, switchable, forwards.
On an individual level, a lot of the Breakers are putting up impressive seasons. Webster, even with his questionable shot selection, has been excellent. Abercrombie has experienced a career revival under Shamir. Hopson has been as advertised and Ashley has been a boon for my fantasy team. Finn Delany is finally turning potential into production and looks set for a huge payday once his contract ends — his three-point shooting is for real and his rim rampages feel more controlled and effective.
According to SpatialJam.com, Webster led the Breakers on scoring, and averaged 19.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.8 rebounds over 11 games played this season. His roster spot will be taken over by Ethan Rusbatch for the remainder of the season.
The Lions are currently 11-7 this season, having lost to the Beijing Ducks 95-105 on Tuesday, which makes it their second consecutive loss. They play the Sichuan Blue Whales on Thursday.