HIS NBL future lies elsewhere but outgoing Hawks skipper Kevin White says Wollongong will always be home despite inking a two-year deal with Adelaide.
The 36ers confirmed they will bring the defensive hardman to an arena where he became public enemy No. 1 in some fierce finals duels on the Brett Maher Court.
It confirmed what had been an open secret in the Illawarra after the Hawks informed the 31-year-old he wasn't part of their future plans.
Having often expressed a desire to finish his career with the Hawks, White was left saddened by the call but accepts such decisions are a reality of professional sport.
"It's not nice to sit around in limbo and wonder what's going to happen," White said.
"That's the sport we're in and the position we get put in with short contracts. It can be nerve-wracking so it's good to finally have that done and settled.
"As disappointed as I am to leave the Hawks it's kind of funny to end up Adelaide, that's for sure.
"Joey [Wright] and I had a good chat about the last few years and what happened there but, at the end of the day, there's a lot of mutual respect for each other and the way we compete.
"That's what Joey wants. It's been pleasing to have those chats with him and I'm really looking forward to the new opportunities I'm going to get there with a new group."
It brings an end to one of the great NBL stories - a Manly-raised Kings fan who shifted south and became the glue in the bluest of blue collar teams.
It's also where he met partner Rachel who gave birth to their son Quinn six months ago, and why their future still lies in the steel city.
"It's disappointing but at the same time Wollongong's [still] home," he said.
"As sad as it is to leave [the Hawks] there'll probably be a time my family and I move back here. We love this area, Rach is born and raised in the Illawarra and her family's here, Quinn was born here.
"Who knows what the future holds but I've thoroughly enjoyed my time here. To come down here and play for the club and be embraced by the community and the teammates that I've had has been amazing.
"I feel like my style of play and the type of person that I am has fitted into this community so well and I can't be thankful enough for the way the community's embraced me."
Coach Matt Flinn admits it was toughest of calls but said it was one made with a look to overall balance of his roster, one that's likely to include and import guard.
"It's a tough call. I love Whitey, personally we're great mates," Flinn said.
"We were very honest with him all the way through. We do have some good young guys there, we've got Daniel Grida there who was sort of parked behind [Todd] Blanchfield last year.
"He's going to get more opportunity to play with Todd, we've also got Angus Glover coming onto the roster a local young kid so all those factors weigh into things.
"It's one those things with professional sport. I'm really happy for Whitey to get a two year deal in Adelaide. It's a good signing for them.
"We feel we're in a pretty good place as well. This is a tough league and tough decision have got to be made and this is just one of those things."