Basketball: Nuggets opt for two new imports

Mark Dickel
Mark Dickel
The Otago Nuggets have opted for a new American duo this season.

Antoine Tisby and Akeem Wright are out and Troy Payne and Warren Carter are in.

Payne (25) is billed as a versatile player who can cover the guard and small forward positions, while Carter will provide the muscle under the hoop.

Nuggets player-coach Mark Dickel believes Carter, in particular, will have a big impact on the National Basketball League.

''I played with Warren in Turkey, I think six or seven years ago, so I've had a friendship with him since that time,'' Dickel said.

''I've followed his career and he has played in a lot of good teams in Europe and he has done well. I've always spoken to him about playing on this side of the world and he is just at the right time of his life where he wants to try and give it a go.

Traditionally, he would be someone that it would be impossible for us to get.''

The 28-year-old, 2.05m forward played college basketball for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He began his professional career in Turkey in 2007 and signed with the New York Knicks on September 11, 2009, but was waived on October 22.

''No question - he is definitely somebody that I'm anticipating will do really well.

He can shoot it, he can put the ball on the floor and he has a pretty good post game and he can shoot right out to the three-point line.

He is a good passer and we know how each other plays, so it is going to be easy for us to fall right back into the same rhythm.''

The Californian-raised Payne (1.98m) was twice named West Coast Conference defensive player of the year while at Santa Clara University and earned a stint with the Tasmania Thunder in last year's Australian State League, where he averaged 18 points, 8.5 rebounds 3.9 assist and 3.1 steals per game.

He also had a stint with the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBA Development League in the 2011-12 season.

From what Dickel has seen of Payne on tape, and the recommendations he has had, Payne should be a good fit for the franchise.

The pair are expected to arrive in Dunedin in mid-March to begin preparations for the Nuggets' season-opener against the Southland Sharks in Invercargill on April 4.

Brendon Polyblank, Fijian international Marques Whippy and forward Sam King are also confirmed for 2014.

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