The Sal's NBL 2021 men's season will go up a gear when Free Agency officially opens on Monday 16 November.
Off the back of the enormous success of the 2020 NBL Showdown's player draft and the way it distributed players for the six-week season, the League’s new Free Agency window is another first for the 40-year old competition.
The idea was suggested and agreed to by the teams. Free Agency allows players to register their interest in being signed and lets all teams know they are available to be approached. It also gives the NBL an opportunity to promote potential players. A player cannot be signed unless they have registered.
The Free Agency Registration window starts this Sunday 1 November. Sal’s NBL General Manager Justin Nelson says he expects there to be a flurry of early signings with locking down local Kiwis a high priority for teams.
"The new set-up for the NBL's Free Agency period will deliver a lot of twists and turns as all ten teams work through signing their squads for 2021. There has been a lot of talk amongst teams and players since the Showdown ended in August, but now it's about to start heating up," said Nelson.
"It's extremely hard to exactly replicate the draft with a return to a full home-and-away season, 2021 is a different scenario to 2020 when the teams stayed in a hotel for six weeks. Next year will be a five-month commitment, so players packing up and moving to another region isn't realistic for everyone," explained Nelson.
While a window to sign players isn't a new thing in basketball, the regimented when players register their interest to be signed by a team, followed by a dedicated window for contracts to be offered and accepted, is an advancement that Nelson believes will help continue the public's interest in the League.
"It gives the players the chance to advertise their talent and interest to all teams. It’s not about which team has a player’s phone number and which doesn’t – the teams all have the same starting point and can talk with the player about a potential contract.
“It also helps drive interest early on. The 2020 Showdown delivered incredible results for us through that pre-season discussion – who had registered, who had not. The fans and wider community are more attached to the NBL than ever and we have new commercial partners seeking us out for conversations because the League is increasingly garnering the interest of the rising number of Kiwi basketball fans.
"We're hopeful the Free Agency period will continue to heighten that interest and ensure the Sal's NBL is being spoken about in workplaces, stadiums, newsrooms and schoolyards across New Zealand."
FREE AGENCY - REGISTRATION
Opens: Sunday November 1
• All players seeking a contract to play in the 2021 season must register for Free Agency, this includes Kiwis and any International player (import).
• Registrations for Free Agency will be located on the League website from this Sunday and will remain open until further notice.
FREE AGENCY - SIGNING
Opens: Monday November 16
• Teams can commence signing players for the 2021 Sal's NBL season.
• Teams cannot sign a player who has not registered for Free Agency.
• Teams must remain within a salary limit that has been put in place by the NBL Board and all teams.
• Once each agreement has been signed-off by the League, the signing will be announced publicly.