New Zealand Breakers sign former NBA big man Rakeem Christmas for remainder of NBL season

Rakeem Christmas played 30 NBA games for the Indiana Pacers.
Rakeem Christmas played 30 NBA games for the Indiana Pacers. Photo credit: Getty

The Breakers have confirmed an NBA quality import is heading their way.

The Australian NBL club has confirmed the signing of former Indiana Pacers big man Rakeem Christmas to the roster for the remainder of the season.

26-year-old Christmas arrives Monday and will practice with the team on Tuesday ahead of their trip to play Illawarra this Saturday.

 Head Coach Paul Henare outlined the reasons for bringing in a third import, an option that was always there should the team feel the need.

 "We always had that spot up our sleeves, probably more as injury cover for our local spots, but we feel we need an injection to our group, someone who can provide a presence for us at both ends of the floor, fit in and complement the group we have," he said.

The New Zealand club are at the top of the table, level on wins with Perth and Melbourne.

Rakeem Christmas
Rakeem Christmas Photo credit: Getty

Henare stressed that the move is a positive one to add something to an already successful group.

"We are not a desperation team trying to make the play offs – although it is a bit of a dog fight trying to get in there. It was more trying to find someone to complement and make our group a whole lot better.

"Rakeem is a genuine threat at both ends, he had a good four-year career at Syracuse and had a break out year in his senior year.

"He has flirted with the NBA and he brings legitimate shot blocking at the defensive end and protects the rim. On the offensive end, while he shows some touches around the free throw line, he provides some real athleticism and a target at the rim, which we want to utilize with the shooters we have on the floor."

 Christmas was drafted into the NBA in 2015 by the Minnesota Timberwolves and then traded to the Indiana Pacers, where he has played 30 games in the toughest league in the world before heading to Europe in 2017.

 The powerful centre has links to the club through DJ Newbill, and has spoken with him and others about making the move to the Breakers.

"One of my friends Eric Devendorf from Syracuse played out there in the Australian League and in New Zealand. He is friends with the GM who got in contact with him and he got in contact with me," Christmas said.

"I know a couple of people in the States that have played against the Breakers, either from College or the G League.

"But I talked to DJ Newbill, I know DJ from going to high school in Philly and we have the same agency, and he told me a lot of great things about the League and the Breakers. Both he and Eric spoke highly of both."

The club has released Jimmy Hunter from the squad to make way for their new import.

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