Jeff Dunlap didn’t name any names, but there was no doubt about the identity of the player he was talking about.
Dunlap, the head coach of the newly-named St. John’s Edge was answering questions from Macdonald Drive Junior High students after a Monday event at the school, where the National Basketball League of Canada expansion team unveiled its nickname, logo and team colours.
The best query came from a young man who asked “Will there be any Newfoundlanders on the team?”
Dunlap didn’t hem and haw, but leaned towards the mic and promptly answered.
“Right now, as it stands today, no,” he said. “But there is one we’re talking to right now. If he decides to play, I think it would be fantastic. He’s had a long, lengthy career in pro basketball and we’ll see if we can rope him in.”
Only Carl English fits that description.
“There is one (Newfoundland player) we’re talking to right now. If he decides to play, I think it would be fantastic. He’s had a long, lengthy career in pro basketball and we’ll see if we can rope him in.”
St. John’s Edge head coach Jeff Dunlap
The 36-year-old Patrick’s Cove native and former NCAA star at the University of Hawaii had NBA tryouts, played in American minor circuits for a couple of year, then fashioned a solid professional career for himself in Europe, beginning in 2005. But since the first mention of an NBL Canada franchise for St. John’s, rumours have abounded about English eventually being part of the team.
A Monday reply from from English to a question on his Twitter account (@cenenglish23) only added to the intrigue.
“Let’s just say I’m in great shape, just back from training in (Greece) and will be signing somewhere very sooooon,” tweeted English, punctuating things with a smiling emoji.
Apart from being what looks to be a natural fit, the problem with the potential hook-up would seem to be what it often is when it comes to these matters: money.
NBL Canada teams have a salary cap of $150,000. That’s not for one player, but for the entire 12-member team through the entire season, although it should be noted players’ living expenses are covered in most cases.
English has played in Greece, but the majority of English’s European career has been spent in Spain’s Liga ACB, sometimes touted as the as the second-best basketball league in the world after the NBA. In the Spanish circuit, the biggest stars can make millions per season and lesser luminaries regularly draw annual pay in the six-figure range, more than the entire yearly salary budget for an NBL Canada team.
“Let’s just say I’m in great shape, just back from training … and will be signing somewhere very sooooon.”
Carl English on his Twitter account
It all seems to indicate any agreement that would lead to English joining the Edge would have to involve both compromise and creativity.
Last season, English played for Tenerife, a Canary Island-based team in the Spanish league. His minutes played were down significantly from
previous years, but his value was such that he was still picked up by the German team ALBA Berlin for EuroCup competition. And until recently, the 6-4 guard had been a fixture on Canadian national teams.
The new Spanish league season — and that of most other top European circuits — recently got underway, although players often sign after the schedule has started.
English isn’t the only player with local connections whose name comes up when talking about the Edge’s potential roster. Former Memorial Sea-Hawks Noel Moffatt, who played in the NBL with the Windsor Express last season, and Vaisilje Curcic are also mentioned. (It’s noteworthy Dunlap was expected to meet with Memorial men’s basketball coach Peter Benoite during this, his first visit to St. John’s).
Dunlap has already signed 15 players for the Edge’s straining camp, which is set to begin later this month. He can have up to 18 in camp and of that number, five have to be Canadians.
“We have four (Canadians) in place right now,” said Dunlap, who will also look to round out the roster at the NBLC combine and draft next weekend in Windsor, Ont., where the Edge will have the first overall pick.
He seemed to indicate he’s willing to retain that one domestic opening for a Newfoundland player. While Dunlap had noted the team has been in contact with English, as of Monday morning, he hadn’t personally met with the veteran guard, or any other local player.
“There’s two or three … I need to talk to them. There’s a couple and I know they would get everybody’s heart started a little bit … and mine, too,” said Dunlap, adding one last obvious hint about English, who he suggested had other basketball options to consider.