Ball pressure: Illawarra's Darington Hobson signing stemmed from league's request to lighten LaMelo's load

The Illawarra Hawks announced their latest import signing on Thursday afternoon, with Darington Hobson joining the team "as soon as possible".

The 6'7 swingman was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2010 with the 37th overall pick, but was waived, and spent his time in the NBA D-League, among other international leagues. The 32 year old last played for the Fiat Torino in Italy's Lega Serie A, and averaged 12.7 points, 5.1 rebounds and 4.3 assists over 22 games.

According to Fox Sports Australia's Olgun Uluc --and also the Illawarra Mercury's Tim Barrow-- the NBL had engaged with the Hawks on making an import signing a priority.

However, there are concerns about the 18-year-old's workloads and time on court, leading the NBL - who pay his contract through the Next Stars program - to open discussions with the Hawks about fast-tracking a signing to bolster the squad.

NBL's pressure on Hawks to provide support for NBA prospect LaMelo Ball

Multiple other options were discussed prior to this signing. This included John Jenkins, CJ Harris, Jaye Crockett --who will likely be out of the rotation following South East Melbourne Phoenix forward Tai Wesley's imminent return-- and Deng Deng.

According to Barrow, there is speculation over ownership stability as well, which the league is keeping an eye on.

After missing out on Xavier Cooks, who chose to commit to the Sydney Kings, Hobson's signing will likely relieve scoring pressure from Next Star LaMelo Ball - the left-handed guard averaged 38.2% from three-pointers with Fiat Torino, making 42 on 110 attempts.

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The team has struggled with finding a consistent rotation this season, especially after Aaron Brooks' season-ending injury, and currently sits at the bottom of the ladder with a 3-9 record. Sunday Dech has performed admirably alongside Ball in the wake of Brooks' absence, but Hobson's joining could have an impact on Dech's playing opportunities moving forward.