Newcastle Eagles are in talks with former star Paul Gause about a return to Tyneside as they continue work on rebuilding their roster ahead of the start of the new BBL season.
The Eagles snapped up Scott Martin last week and have now switched their attention to securing a new point guard – as well as filling the gap left by Joe Chapman, who has moved to Japan.
They are working through a “huge list” of high-calibre options for the crucial point position, but Eagles fans will be interested to hear that Gause, who made an impressive impact in his only season with Newcastle two years ago, is a contender to return.
The Eagles have also been linked with a move to re-sign Drew Lasker as they attempt to re-assert their supremacy over British basketball in the face of Leicester’s emergence. Eagles owner Paul Blake confirmed the club’s interest in Gause but said he was only one of a number of alternatives being scouted by Dave Forrester, who is the man primarily tasked with finding the players for player-coach Fab Flournoy.
“It’s fair to say that on the point guard side of things we have a huge list of possible names and they are all playing at a good level in Europe and have a solid college career,” Blake said.
“It is also fair to say that we’re also in communication with Paul Gause, but he has other job offers on the table at the moment. I don’t want to raise hopes too much but he definitely is an option.
“Looking at the options that we have for the two positions that we’re looking to strengthen, I’m very confident that we will have two really solid players in those spots next season.”
The Eagles have made their guard rotation a priority next season after identifying that as the area that let them down in their tussle with Leicester Riders for the BBL title last term.
They retain an interest in last year’s point guard Damon Huffman, but there are question marks over whether he will continue to forge a career in professional basketball, despite his obvious talent. Flournoy has already spoken to the American about his plans for next year.
Whoever they decide to sign, the Eagles know they must get the ball rolling soon to ensure that they have a valid work permit for the start of the new season. Blake has set a deadline for the end of the month to have a new point guard and two guard in place.
“I’m very confident that we will have someone who can play at an appropriate level for us. Everyone that we are looking at has either had a solid college career with a big NCAA college or was starting for one of those colleges last year, which is encouraging,” he said.
“We’re talking to a lot of people and it will come to a head on the point guard front by the end of the month, I would have thought.”
The Eagles will also take to the court without sharpshooter Chapman next year after he signed a deal with a Japanese club last week.
That brings an end a four-year association that saw the guard become a firm favourite.
“Joe departs with the best wishes of everybody at the club,” said Blake.
“He leaves us with so many good memories, and he is one of the names that will go down in the history of this club – I would say that he’s a contender for our hall of fame.
“He always put his body on the line for the club, despite the serious injuries that he’d had.”