Melbourne United chief executive Vince Crivelli says his club risked being restricted to two imports if they went any higher in the bidding war for their former star Casper Ware.
The Sydney Kings shocked the NBL on Thursday night when they signed Ware to a two-year deal (one year plus a player option), which sees the former NBA point guard and Melbourne United championship winner join Andrew Bogut in Sydney.
CaspeR Ware is headed to the Kings.Credit:AAP
Most seasons, Melbourne don't sign their imports until later in the winter as they focus on signing local players and check the talent in Europe and the NBA Summer League.
But this year the Kings were coming hard for Ware while expansion club South East Melbourne Phoenix were also closely tracking him.
In the end, the Kings were the winners and proudly announced the deal on Thursday night.
Crivelli said he wanted Melbourne fans to know the team did everything they could to re-sign Ware but risked leaving the rest of the roster short-handed if they increased their offer.
"It potentially meant we could only got with two imports," Crivelli said.
"We didn't feel that is the right thing to do by the fans, team and players that are still here.
"It's now up to us to go the next step. I just ask everyone to have a little trust in Dean Vickerman, the process and myself and we will do our job in putting this thing back together and ultimately being a winner on the last day of the season."
Melbourne believe the offer they made to Ware was bigger, per season, than Perth’s offer to NBA import Bryce Cotton last year.
"We put our best ever offer to him but truthfully we weren't able to come close to the offer Sydney made," Crivelli said.
"Part of this for us with what we have gone through with our review, we need to be responsible in building a team we think has all the attributes to be competitive under championship duress.
"We just couldn't go any harder at Casper as it would have put in jeopardy the rest of that puzzle."
Kings chief executive Chris Pongrass said he wouldn't comment on financial details or directly address what Crivelli said.
"We made the best offer we thought necessary to get Casper," Pongrass said.
"Ownership has come in and brought a level of financial discipline on the basketball side and business side.
"We are committed to putting the best team on the floor but we definitely fell within those confines. We made an offer to him that he liked."
Pongrass added Ware was exactly the player the Kings needed and they could still sign two more imports or just one depending on who they sign.
"The good thing is with our current roster Will [Weaver, the Kings new coach] and I have a lot of flexibility and work closely on who we want to bring in," Pongrass said.
"That idea [of having two imports] has been floated. As we go through the process we have a long list of guys in different positions who are both local and international and that lets us stay flexible to look at guys.
"It's opening ourselves up to being flexible later in the free agency period."
Pongrass added that the Kings hoped to make a "couple more signings" in the near future, which are more likely to be local players.
Melbourne have been working through a thorough review process and believe they need to make their whole roster stronger next season.
"We will just continue on the path we were on," Crivelli said.
"We are committed to getting back to that championship series and go a little bit better.
"One thing I have no doubt about is that we will find the right players who fit within what we are trying to do and play with the pride and passion our fans have come to expect."
Crivelli said Ware would always be a big part of club history.
"We love him, we thank him and he will always be our championship-winning point guard but, for now, we will have to learn to hate him in a Sydney Kings uniform," Crivelli said.
"Then we'll celebrate the championship with him when his career is over."
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