/ |

Unhappy Satterfield parts ways with last-place Saitama


Staff Writer

Former NBA point guard Kenny Satterfield’s drama-filled, unhappy second season in the bj-league has come to an end.

Satterfield, the league’s leading assist man (6.7 per game) has left the Saitama Broncos, and was to fly back to the United States on Thursday.

The New York City-bred point guard did not play last weekend. His on-again, off-again playing status was a major point of contention throughout the season.

Former coach Dean Murray tried to convince team management to release Satterfield early in the season after his refusal to participate in warm-up drills. Murray said Satterfield would be released, but then Broncos management backed down, opting against doing so.

Instead, weeks later, Murray lost his job, and assistant-turned-head coach Natalie Nakase has opted to bring Satterfield off the bench at times, not use him at all in other games and start him on occasion.

Repeatedly, Satterfield took his frustration with the situation to Twitter, openly criticizing the way his playing time was being handled.

Satterfield, who turns 31 on April 10, averaged 12.7 points this season (38 games, 28 starts), his second in the bj-league after splitting last season with the Broncos and Osaka Evessa, joining the Western Conference power as a temporary rental player after Saitama canceled the rest of its 2010-11 season following the March 11 earthquake.

According to a league insider, Satterfield allegedly “reeked of alcohol” on the team bus on Saturday before the game, and the Broncos were thrashed, 101-61 by the visiting Sendai 89ers in a night contest. He was not on the team bench for Sunday’s 13-point win over the 89ers.

Satterfield did not respond to interview requests by The Japan Times this week.

On Wednesday he posted on Twitter: “Has been the worst year of basketball for me. So much s—- for no reason. Now you don’t have me as your excuse.”

Despite a rocky relationship with team management, Satterfield had some brilliant games this season, including three triple-doubles. His final triple-double was on March 10, a 13-point, 10-rebound, 14-assist performance against the Chiba Jets.

Nakase declined to comment on Satterfield’s departure.

Misery in Miyazaki: The Broncos (12-32, worst record in the Eastern Conference) are not the only team facing a crisis this week.

Despite their long-shot chance of reaching the playoffs as a second-year franchise, the much-improved Miyazaki Shining Suns are headed in the wrong direction.

It has everything to do with the team’s checkbook.

Frontcourt starters Darryl Dora and O’Neal Mims have left the team.

The reason?

They have not been paid in full, The Japan Times has learned.

Miyazaki team management has fallen behind in payments, and now the team’s uphill climb to reach the playoffs has essentially ended. The sixth-place Shimane Susanoo Magic are 24-22, and appear to have now locked up the West’s final playoff spot.

And this would leave the Shining Suns (20-24) with two imports: Dexter Lyons and Lewis Witcher. Eight players are now listed on the team’s roster, including Dora, but Lyons is now not listed, as of press time on Thursday.

Lyons leads the team with 16.2 points per game. His salary has not been an item of dicussion, though, among league insiders this week.

Thursday a team spokeswoman said Dora was “out of the country” and would not comment on Mims.

The Shining Suns have been plagued by poor attendance since entering the league last season and took the unprecedented decision to scrap their cheerleading team this campaign in a cost-cutting move.

Mims was Sendai’s leading scorer (19.3 points in 20 games) before his abrupt departure in January, but made an immediate impact after joining the Kyushu club — 15.3 points in 22 games.

Dora, who played under legendary bench boss Bob Knight at Texas Tech, was a steady force in the middle, averaging 13.0 points and hauling in 415 rebounds in 43 games. Dora also had 42 steals.

One source claims rumors are swirling that the team released Mims because he spit on another player. He vehemently disputes that version of why he’s left the Shining Suns.

“No, I did not spit on anyone,” Mims told The Japan Times, referring to a moment in a game last weekend against the Osaka Evessa. “I was taking my mouthpiece out to relay the play to my teammates and some of my saliva got on an Osaka player.

“I would never disrespect anyone in that manner.”

He added: “(Miyazaki) did not let me go; I left on my own because I was not being paid the money the club owed me by the date promised.”

Mims’ salary was not a one-time issue.

His salary was a month behind in both February and March.

This didn’t appear to matter to team officials.

“The president told me if I didn’t like it, I can go home,” Mims said.