At this moment, most of you have probably already heard the shocking news that the Saigon Heat have reportedly decided to part ways with American import Lenny Daniel for the upcoming 2017-2018 ABL season.
Lenny averaged 23.8 PPG and 12.4 RPG last season and was considered the most important piece that carried the team to two of their last three consecutive ABL playoff appearances. Unfortunately, the Heat will enter the 2017-2018 ABL season without their former Most Valuable Player.
But why on earth would a dominant player like Lenny get waived?
In the team’s official announcement, Heat CEO Mr. Connor Nguyen shared that, “As the ABL has grown from six to nine teams this season, the level of competition will be greater as well. [Saigon Heat] need to be more aggressive to catch up with the league’s development to put Vietnam on the basketball map.”
“It’s time to reach another level, the fans deserve it,” says Connor. “In order to execute this plan, some tough decisions will need to be made and a new team culture will be built. This started with signing Mr. Kyle Julius as the team’s new head coach.”
One point has to be noted – The Saigon Heat have NEVER won any game in the playoff rounds despite their three consecutive ABL playoff appearances. At the moment, their record in the playoffs is a dismal 0-6. An embarrassing outcome for the 5-season ABL veterans. Therefore, waiving Lenny Daniel to make room for another import who is better-fit for the new system maybe the toughest, yet, necessary change in the long run for the Heat.
Canadian Head Coach Kyle Julius has already proven his talent when he led 3D Global Sports Canada to the championship at the 39th William Jones Cup before coming to Vietnam and will be in charge of building a new face for the team.
According to a source, the Heat have expressed interest in signing an American guard to replace Lenny Daniel as the team’s second world import. However, this will leave a gaping hole at the PF position in their roster and cause an overload of guards.
In this scenario, the Saigon Heat have no other option than playing Moses Morgan at the 4 or replacing David “Viet” Arnold with an ASEAN heritage big man.
Before you think the second option is nonsense or impossible, let me remind you that the Heat have already waived their best player from the last two previous seasons, so don’t be surprised if the team’s franchise player is replaced with an import from the Philippines.
Moreover, in an online interview with SPIN.ph, Julius didn’t hide his intention to find another Filipino import for his new system. “I have reached out to several Philippine players so hopefully we can come to agreements and begin to change the personnel to better suit the way I want to play and the culture we want to build.”
At this stage, it’s too early to judge Julius’ decision. However, he may be the coach under the most pressure coming into the new season.