Rams' plan to bolster side with US import hinges on Immigration NZ approval

Deshon Taylor. Photo: Getty Images
Deshon Taylor. Photo: Getty Images
The Canterbury Rams plan to bolster their roster with American import Deshon Taylor, provided the NBL can convince the government to allow foreign basketballers to play in the 2021 season.

The Californian joined the Sydney Kings in last year’s Australian NBL as injury cover, a move that followed a NBA Summer League role with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Taylor, 24, is a point guard out of Fresno State University who also had a stint in Latvia before joining the Kings.

He was named in the All Mountain-West First team in 2018 and 2019, ending college in seventh spot on the programme’s all-time scoring list with 1482 points.

The NBL is anxious to gain approval to use imports in the 40th edition of the NBL, with at least 18 Kiwi players unavailable in the early stages of the season because of an overlap with Australia’s NBL.

A late start to the ANBL means it will clash with the first half of New Zealand’s league, which tips off on April 24.

The regular season across the Tasman ends in May and is followed by the finals series.

The NBL is currently finalising its application to Immigration New Zealand for up to 20 international players to be admitted as ‘critical workers’.

If approved, teams would be able to contract two imported players.

NBL general manager Justin Nelson. Photo: Getty Images
NBL general manager Justin Nelson. Photo: Getty Images
“The value and importance of international players to our teams and the league is undeniable,” said NBL general manager Justin Nelson.

“These players are critical to the competition if we are to continue growing this league.”

Rams general manager Caleb Harrison agreed: “Having imports available has a significant impact on our organisation’s revenue, including sponsorship and ticketing,” he said.

If granted dispensation, Taylor would follow in the footsteps of other star imports at the Rams, including Clyde Huntly and Kenny McFadden.

Nelson never anticipated the NBL would need support to bring in imports because Tall Blacks, including Tom Vodanovich (Sydney Kings) and Isaac Davidson (NZ Breakers), were allowed to play in Australia.

"We don’t usually clash with the Australian competition, but it’s a different world right now," he said.

"The number of Kiwis in the ANBL is almost the equivalent of two teams’ worth, so that’s another reason why we see the 20 international players as critical workers.

“This year we also have the Sharks, Saints and Hawks coming back in after their absence in 2020, so locally it will be all hands-on deck.

"The ANBL clash means the inclusion of international players has never been more important than they are right now.”







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