Cheshire Phoenix have freed former NBA player Julius Hodge in what will be the final shuffle of their pack.

The one-time Draft Lottery pick, 31, had only been with the Northgate outfit for two months and – despite playing out of his natural position – had led his team on an eight-game winning streak that has taken them into the midst of the BBL title race, earning John Coffino the league’s Coach of the Month prize for December.

MVP understands that Hodge, who has averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 assists, will likely be replaced before Sunday’s home clash with Manchester Giants. However a team source claims that guarantees in the player’s contract have led to a stalemate in talks to formally end his employment.

The move – which is the ninth and last permitted change to the club’s roster – comes in the same week that the Phoenix’s ambitious chairman Andrew Donaldson declared that the presence of the Antiguan-born veteran was one factor in raising the bar in Chester.

“We have assembled a winning team under a great coach,” he told the Cheshire Chronicle.

“We had to make changes early on but that has proved to be a wise decision as we are in a position to be challenging for honours going into the new year.”

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