Basketball: Allred leaving Nuggets to trial for Charlotte

Otago Nuggets centre Lance Allred has been invited for a trial with NBA team the Charlotte Bobcats and leaves Dunedin on Monday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Otago Nuggets centre Lance Allred has been invited for a trial with NBA team the Charlotte Bobcats and leaves Dunedin on Monday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Otago Nuggets centre Lance Allred is really going to miss "mince pies and L&P". He is also going to miss the Nuggets' last three games.

The 2.11m American has been called up for a trial with NBA team the Charlotte Bobcats and leaves Dunedin on Monday.

It is a fantastic opportunity for Allred. The 30-year-old made three appearances for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2008 and he would like to add to his NBA record. But there is also some sadness leaving the team before the season is complete.

"The thing is I'm happy here and I haven't been homesick one day, so it's tough to leave," he said.

"But the important thing is I'm leaving on good terms and therefore that leaves the window open to hopefully return."

Allred will definitely slip the singlet on at least one more time, when he suits up for the Nuggets against the Nelson Giants at the Edgar Centre on Friday night.

It is a chance for the big man to bow out on a high after the team's disappointing result against the Southland Sharks in Invercargill on Saturday.

The Nuggets were thrashed 100-58 and will be keen to put on a much-improved performance against the Giants.

"It was hard to watch but it is just one those nights that you have in this game. Not every night is going to go your way."

While things did not go well for the Nuggets in Invercargill the franchise had a breakthrough win against the Manawatu Jets last month and it is a memory Allred held close to his heart.

The 74-67 win broke a 33-game losing-streak which stretched back to April 2008.

Allred had a stand-out performance with 22 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks and was reduced to tears from the emotion of the occasion.

"It was getting back to the true element of sport. No money, no ego, just playing to win and playing because we love it.

"It reminded me of why I still play. I hadn't been enjoying playing basketball for a long time - it was a job, a grind. But being able to come down here and enjoy myself - I had forgotten what it feels like.

"That night was a beautiful thing."

Nuggets coach Alf Arlidge said Allred left with the team's blessing.

"He has just been a joy to coach," Arlidge said.

"The cool thing about Lance is he came here as a basketballer and will leave as a friend. He has been a really great guy."

He has also be very consistent, averaging 16.1 points and 10.1 rebounds and has taken some of the younger players under his wing, particularly Sam King.

His departure may coincide with the biggest crowd of the season. Fans are asked to pay what they think Friday night's game is worth - there is no set entry fee. Basketball Otago general manager Markham Brown hopes the promotion will bring in a good crowd and that the game will serve as a fitting farewell for Allred.

A replacement will not be sought. With the campaign in its twilight and the Nuggets' playoff prospects bleak at best, it would not make much sense.

"If we were pushing for a playoff spot it might change things a little bit," Brown said.

"But the odds are pretty low at this stage."