ANBL: Breakers assistant coach Mike Fitchett resigns on brink of new season

Fitchett. Photo credit: Photosport

The Breakers have been dealt a blow just days out from the start of the new NBL season, with Mike Fitchett stepping down from his role as assistant coach.

General Manager Matt Walsh said that Fitchett informed him of his decision to leave at the airport prior to their return from their two-game NBA tour in the US.

While Walsh had anticipated Fitchett's resignation, he was clearly frustrated by the timing.

"I had already known what was coming because he had told some other members of the staff," said Walsh.

"To be resigning six days before the season after coming on an NBA trip like this, I wasn't interested in hearing a whole lot from him."

Walsh said Fitchett told him that he'd already sold his home in Auckland and had planned to move back to his native Nelson.

The 37-year-old former Tall Blacks guard is currently the head coach of the NZ NBL's Nelson Giants. 

"If the house was already sold you can imagine that this decision was not made today, when we were on our way back from an NBA trip."

Inconvenience aside, the process to find Fitchett's replacement is already underway and there are no shortage of candidates, said Walsh.

"The good thing is we're the New Zealand Breakers. We're one of the most attractive jobs there is in basketball, if not the most.

"We've started movement to get someone in here - a high level coach who can help the organisation move forward. It will come down to how quickly they can get here and who Dan [Shamir] decides he wants to fill his staff out with.

"Now Dan will be able to build his own staff and there's a lot of value in that."

They have a short list of two leading contenders for the job - one of whom is American - and expect whoever gets the nod to be in Auckland by Monday or Tuesday.

The Breakers play their season opener against the Sydney Kings on Friday.

Fitchett's departure marks a complete changing of the coaching guard since Walsh bought the franchise in 2018.

"I didn't intend to clean house but I couldn't be happier with where our staff is and the direction the club is going.

"There's so much positivity going on here… I wouldn't even call this a hurdle because we've already moved on."

According to Walsh, there was nothing to indicate any rift in the relationship with new head coach Shamir, although he acknowledged that the Israeli's style was different to his predecessor Kevin Braswell.

"Dan doesn't run things like [Braswell], for example . It's very detailed and it's a lot of work and there's big expectations.

"I have high expectations and I demand a lot from my employees, and Dan is the same way as a coach. Dan is a very demanding coach and that's why we brought him in.

"There are certain people who are built for that and step up and want to be a part of the next steps for the Breakers and where we're taking the club, and there are some people who aren't built for that."

Appointed in 2016, Fitchett spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the Breakers under Paul Henare (2017/18) and Kevin Braswell (2018/19).



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