ILLAWARRA will lock in a third import within a week, with coach Brian Goorjian determined to ensure the sudden loss of Travis Trice becomes a blessing in disguise.
The Hawks were left down an import eight weeks out from what's tipped to be an early December tip-off, with Trice cut prior to even landing on Australian shores over his unwillingness to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The 28-year-old was an early free agency coup for the club, with the former Cairns and Brisbane point-guard recruited to be the Hawks primary ball-handler and a foil for franchise star Tyler Harvey.
It's sent the Hawks back to the recruitment board, but Goorjian's found silver linings in the opportunity to get a best-fit candidate for an otherwise complete roster.
"It may hurt us as far as being organised but there's opportunity there," Goorjian said.
"Whoever it is is going to come late whereas last year we got everyone here early, everyone on the same page early. This might be a slower process because it's such an important piece.
"A great Australian player, you can't replace, but an American in preseason who elects not to come... there's [other] guys over there. We've got four or five guys that are interested and want to come.
"We're waiting, there's NBA fallout right now. With all these preseason games going on in the NBA, teams are making cuts. Before we pull one we're finding out more about them because some of them are playing as we speak, and other ones are falling off [NBA rosters].
"It's a pretty good time to look, it's not a situation where there's nobody there and you're trying to pull someone out from under a rock."
Goorjian says the franchise didn't entertain the idea of keeping an import spot up its sleeve to make in-season moves as it looks to progress beyond a semi-final finish last campaign.
"With all these preseason games going on in the NBA, teams are making cuts. It's a pretty good time to look, it's not a situation where there's nobody there and you're trying to pull someone out from under a rock."Brian Goorjian
The search has also not drifted away from the pure point-guard position, with the coach hopeful of having the third import locked in and en route by the end of next week.
"It's probably over the next four or five days we're going to have to say 'OK that's the one'," Goorjian said.
"It's a really important decision because that piece was missing last year, we didn't have that floor general that ran a team. Tyler was obviously, First-Team all league, but we thought we needed to get him off the ball some.
"He's going to enjoy not being hounded in the back-court by all these guards in this league. He'll be able to come down the floor and play off screens more and have a guy deliver him the ball.
"We're going to have that spot covered in the next four or five days."
That key position aside, Goorjian will have his squad on deck from Monday when import swingman Antonius Cleveland completes hotel quarantine and reports for duty.
Harvey has also come through quarantine and took to the floor at the Snakepit this week, as did marquee big Duop Reath after enjoying a break following the Boomers Tokyo Olympics campaign.
The club was dealt and injury blow a fortnight ago when young gun Daniel Grida suffered a second ACL tear that will rule him out for the season, though Goorjian says club stalwart and injury replacement Tim Coenraad "will have a huge role" in the campaign.
"We kept the key local guys, we've got that youth, we kept our key import (Harvey) and we've brought some new talent into the team," he said.
"The competition's tough, there's not much in it, but I look at the team I've got, the team we've put together, and I'm really proud of it."