Basketball: Payne axed for 2m swingman

Troy Payne
Troy Payne
The Otago Nuggets have axed import Troy Payne and called in fellow American Brandon Bowdry as a replacement.

Nuggets player-coach Mark Dickel said it was a tough decision to release Payne. The small forward has only enhanced his reputation as an excellent defender during his stint with the Nuggets.

But Payne struggled to make an impact on offence. The Nuggets have also lost their past three matches at home and are under pressure to turn their performances around if they are going to make the playoffs.

''It is really nothing that Troy has done. I just felt it was the right time,'' Dickel said.

''We've still got 10 games left to try and change. He filled the role he was brought here to fill and has done a great job.

''It is unfortunate. We just can't change our roster any other way, really. The hard thing about being the import is that we can get another one of those. We just can't find other New Zealand players.

''I just think if we can get someone else who has a little bit of a different skill set then it will open up the game for everybody else. It is hard before the season to know how everything is going to play out and how other players are going to play.

''Once you see a few games, you have a better chance to work out what you need to do. So it was more that and really nothing Troy has done.''

Mark Dickel
Mark Dickel
Bowdry is a 2m swingman who starred at Eastern Michigan in NCAA and recently finished a season in Europe to play in the NBA development league.

''He has been a scorer everywhere he has been so that is definitely what I'm hoping to get.''

The Nuggets have four wins from eight matches. They lead the league in rebounds, steals and assists but are at the other end of the spectrum for three-pointer percentages and field goal percentages.

The franchise could definitely use some more offensive firepower.

''I'm really excited he is coming but it is never an easy day. I really like Troy.''

Payne played eight games for the Nuggets and averaged 15.5 points and 10.4 rebounds. He also averaged a league-high three steals a game.

He scored a triple-double in the heartbreaking 77-76 loss to the Wellington Saints in the capital last month.

Unfortunately, he also missed two free throw attempts in the dying moments which would have sealed a win for the Nuggets.

He was tormented at the free throw line, landing 33 of his 61 attempts.

And in his last three games he scored just 30 points. His confidence appeared to ebb away with every missed shot.

The Nuggets host the Saints on Saturday at the later time of 8pm.

Dickel is hopeful arrangements can be finalised quickly so Bowdry will be available for the game.

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