Lemanis: Bullets need more money to compete with ‘big boys

Departing Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis has called on the club’s American owners to decide if they want the Bullets to be genuine NBL contenders by providing a bigger budget or remain happy with being a development team.

After five seasons in charge, Lemanis coaches the Bullets for the final time on Tuesday night when Brisbane finish their campaign against South East Melbourne Phoenix at Nissan Arena.

Under Lemanis, who has coached the club since its return to the NBL in 2016, the Bullets have made the playoffs just once but have just missed a top-four berth in the past two years.

While the former Boomers coach wanted greater success during his time with Brisbane, he was proud to have played a major role in putting the club back on the map, helping the likes of Torrey Craig and Will Magnay achieve their NBA dreams and developing a host of Queensland players.

But now, with the club having transitioned out of NBL ownership and into the hands of former NBA star Kevin Martin and several other rich American investors, Lemanis said a choice needed to be made.

Andrej Lemanis is leaving the Bullets after five seasons in charge. Picture: Albert Perez/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“We’ve reached a certain level, and it’s good as we could achieve given the restrictions we were placed under,” said Lemanis, who will coach in Japan next season for a yet-to-be-announced new club.

“(NBL owner) Larry Kestelman’s done a great job in getting the league back up and supporting this organisation, but the reality is our budget’s been restricted, and you understand why.

“We’ve always operated within that environment and done a nice job in being able to attract the players that we’ve been able to attract and be relatively competitive, but in basketball, clubs spend different amounts of money on their playing roster. Budgets are different.

“Now with a new ownership group solely focused on making the Bullets the best they can be, hopefully that gives us the emotional investment from the ownership and gives us a direction.

“Then, one of the key decisions they’ll need to make is how much money are they prepared to spend on it.

“If the goal is to win the league, the budgets need to reflect that, and it’s not only what you spend on the players, it’s everything that goes around and supports it.

“If you’re about winning it, then you need to play with the big boys financially. If it’s about something else, that’s fine, but be open and honest about it and say ‘this is who we are, we’re going to develop players and this is how we measure our success’.

“Then at least fans can get behind that and everybody is fully aware of what the goals of the club are.”

Having “started with nothing” when the Bullets reformed, Lemanis has taken great pleasure in seeing the club reconnect with a Brisbane community that was still fixated on past stars.

“The fans are now connected with this team. When I first started here people only spoke about Leroy Loggins. Larry Sengstock, Ronny Radliff … whereas now they’re coming here and they love Lamar Patterson, the Will Magnays, the Nathan Sobeys,” he said.

“When I get stopped in the street, people talk about them now, not Leroy Loggins.”

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