With only three games left before the playoffs this is the same kind of move teams pulled last year. While I am all for winning, I also feel strongly that the ABL needs to work harder to build fan connections to players. That is not going to happen when you are releasing one of your most popular players with a month left in the season and bringing in a player who no one in Asia has ever heard of. No matter how good he is, that is not the way to connect fans with the players. Plus, do you really need another inside player when Nakiea Miller is leading the league in rebounds and blocks?
The best part though is that Hartman will be staying in Malaysia through the end of the season. I imagine that they were locked into paying him so have decided to keep him around. As explained by a Dragons official on the team's facebook page: "Hartman is and will always be a DragonForce. He's not on the squad but he's still around assisting the team with training and gameplays. Hartman will be around till the end of the season."
The one thing I have enjoyed as this story has unfolded are the comments from fans on the team's facebook page. Hartman is a popular player, and there are a number of dissatisfied fans. I am happy to see that the Dragons have a fan base that cares about what is going on with their team. That says a lot about the future of this young league.
A good article about Justin Lieth, the new import can be found here.