It was a move that had to happen. After falling to a 1-4 record with a home loss to the Townsville Crocodiles, changes were needed if the Sydney Kings wanted to remain competitive and keep fans on side. Those types of moves typically fall in one of two places: coaching staff or imports.
This time it was the latter, as the hammer fell on Rod Grizzard’s time as a Sydney King.
It’s not that Grizz can’t play the game of basketball. He has proven that he can play at a remarkably high level in NBL stints with the Singapore Slingers, Adelaide 36ers and Melbourne Tigers, in addition to time in the NBA D-League and Israel. Apparently the current issue stems from an injury which he was slow to recover from.
“Rod is player who fits the culture of the Sydney Kings – he is a great guy and a strong mentor for the younger players. I cannot reiterate strongly enough that it his Achilles Heel injury that has restricted his ability to play at the peak level required in the NBL and at the Sydney Kings,” coach Ian “Moose” Robilliard said.
“Unfortunately, we had to release Rod from his contract today so we can build on our game structure and look forward to meeting the expectations of our club and the city of Sydney,” he added.
“The search for a replacement for Rod, someone who will help meet our needs for our next phase of team and cultural development is now underway and we anticipate making an announcement before our next home game on December 5.”
“It is the nature of professional sport that all aspects of the business are constantly in a state of flux and review. Rod’s commitment was relevant to the team up to this point, but we are now looking to build a dynamic within the Sydney Kings that will, in part, be built on Rod’s contribution,” Ian said.
The clash with the Crocs at the Kingdome this past Saturday night was one of the worst displays of all-round basketball that I’ve seen in a while. The refereeing was noticeably lax on both ends of the court, as the men in black-and-white allowed both teams to run rampant with blatant hits and pushes going uncalled. However, more than this, the play of both teams was lacking — with neither indicating that they were in the realm of the likes of the league-leading New Zealand Breakers or Wollongong Hawks.
The Kings struggled to get the ball over half-court most of the time, with key point guard Luke Martin and Luke Cooper both out injured. The addition of Luke Kendall was meant to bring stability to the backcourt, but instead Kendall looked sluggish, slow and out of shape. Hopefully this was just the sign of a player returning to action and not an indication of what the team can expect in the longer-term from the former Australian Boomer. He finished the game with zero points, five fouls, four turnovers and not a highlight to speak of. Youngster Joel Wagner, brought across from Perth to fill gaps at the point too, had his flashes of brilliance — even if he showed a reluctance to take the outside shot when left open.
In the pit that the Kings found themselves in, you could only hope that imports Grizzard and Taj McCullough would step up and take up the slack, carrying the team out of a tough situation. However, we did not see any Isaac Burton/Dwayne McClain-like performance that the Kingdome crowds have such fond memories of. Grizzard and McCullough both tried to create off the dribble, but to little effect. Both shot poorly and McCullough accounted for seven of the team’s horrendous 25 turnovers.
It was time for a change. And Grizz, possibly because he had the bigger contract of the two imports, or possibly because of his injury status, was the one to get the cut. The Kings definitely need to bring in a creator — an initiator of the offence. Hopefully the move means that a combo guard will be signed to take away the pressure on the backcourt and more effectively get the ball inside to star big man Julian Khazzouh.
Grizz was a good guy who will be missed. By all accounts he had a great personality and he certainly showed that on the Sydney Kings’ Members Night when me mingled well with the crowd, giving of himself. However, he had to go. That’s the world of professional sports.