King-sized shock as stars take pay cuts
SENIOR Sydney Kings players have taken pay cuts in a bid to play under new coach Will Weaver and win a championship alongside former NBA big man Andrew Bogut before he retires.
Skipper Kevin Lisch and fellow veterans Brad Newley and Daniel Kickert have all sacrificed cash to remain at the Kings.
A significant chunk of Sydney's salary cap is taken up by Bogut and star guard recruit Casper Ware.
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But in an attempt to keep the squad together while giving the franchise the ability to sign other players, Lisch, Newley and Kickert have copped hits to their pay packets.
Lisch had opportunities to join the South East Melbourne Phoenix and the Illawarra Hawks during the off-season but decided to take less and re-commit to the Kings.
"I went with the Kings because I love it here in Sydney," Lisch said.
"I also love Will who they've brought in as coach and the guys in the team, so I'm just ecstatic to be back."
Lisch pinpointed Weaver's appointment as coach as a major factor in his choice to remain in Sydney.
The new Kings mentor is one of best young coaches in world basketball.
Weaver was part of the "Trust the Process" era under Brett Brown at the Philadelphia 76ers as an assistant.
He was also an assistant during the Brooklyn Nets rebuild while he successfully steered the Long Island Nets to the G League finals last season.
Add in six years with the Boomers as an assistant coach and a well-rounded Weaver is ready to conquer the Australian domestic league, according to Lisch.
"Will soaks up information like a sponge," he said.
"His time with the Boomers, his time in college with Texas and his time in the NBA.
"Every place he goes, he soaks up so much information. He remembers it and he is open and willing to pass it along - it has been great.
"He is young and he sees the game in some pretty special ways, which really helps.
"Will is also extremely calm. He gets fired up when he needs to but he is able to slow the game down in his mind and relay that information onto us, which is a pretty special attribute that he has.
"He has invested a lot of time in myself and the other guys, as far as development programs and helping us to get better."
Newley has also benefited from Weaver's presence as coach this season.
The veteran swingman credits his strong form to start the year to Sydney's greater focus on physical preparation.
"Our new trainer Toby Banfield has done a great job managing us. We just do what we are told now. We don't have to worry about doing it ourselves.
"We just get told where to go and we go do it.
"It is kind of nice as an elderly player.
"It is a breath of fresh air with Will coming in. I'm feeling confident. I'm 34 but I feel 24."
Lisch felt rejuvenated like Newley all pre-season until he suffered an ankle fracture against Adelaide in round 2.
He will be sidelined for up to 2 months, with the Kings looking to sign a replacement player.
Lisch is devastated to be injured but happy to see Sydney undefeated after four games to start to the season.
"It is always difficult watching games but when your team is winning and playing well, it is also pretty enjoyable," he said.
"We got two huge wins against New Zealand over the weekend, which was good."
The Kings host the Brisbane Bullets on Saturday from 8pm.