Free Agency Heats Up As Championship Trio Return For Nuggets

With a month to go before season 2023 tips off, the wheels of the Sal’s NBL free agency market started to spin a little harder over the last week with the Night ‘N’ Day Otago Nuggets leading the charge with three returning championship players.

No doubt great news for all Nuggets fans, locals Darcy Knox, Josh Aitcheson and Matt Bardsley have all re-committed to the team and will be aiming for a third championship in four years under the guidance of coach Brent Matehaere.

The Nuggets are starting to look very familiar with Sam Timmins and Jack Andrew already locked in, so all eyes will now turn to who the Dunedin based team unveil as their three imports for the year ahead?

Other movers over the last seven days included the Property Brokers Manawatu Jets, who have landed a big fish in Mustapha Heron and looks a quality replacement for LaGerald Vick. Currently averaging 20-minutes per game in the G League, the versatile shooting guard could be a real head-turner in the Sal’s NBL and adds more class to an already impressive roster.

The SBS Southland Sharks have rounded out their import trio with Jeremy Kendle and Grant Anticevich signing on, while young Ben Hall (previously Canterbury Rams in 2021) looks a nice add as he looks to take his next steps in the league.

Kendle in particular is a nice addition, the experienced court leader knows the Sal’s NBL well and is a proven big-game performer. His leadership alongside Alonzo Burton will prove invaluable for the Sharks.

Derone Raukawa returns for the Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks to bolster their backcourt, and like the Nuggets, the import announcements will now be key pieces for new coach Everard Bartlett and the title aspirations of the Hawks.

Tyrell Harrison is a nice signing for the Franklin Bulls, the big Kiwi was last in the league with the NBS Nelson Giants and will add significant inside presence for the Bulls. More announcements for the Bulls are expected this week.

The Auckland Tuatara have remained busy with Chris McIntosh, Tom Beattie, Nick Barrow and Charlie Dalton all returning, but the news isn’t all good for the Aucklanders with the likelihood of star import Chris Johnson returning to New Zealand starting to slim due an impending clash with his commitments in the United States.

Elsewhere, the Giants announced the return of Tom Ingham and rising youngster Alex McNaught, while the Wheeler Motor Company Canterbury Rams continue to keep everyone guessing with another silent week.

To check out all the latest signings visit the Sal’s NBL free agency tracker HERE.

Coach: Natu Taufale
Danny Pippen* – Korat (Finland)
Javion Blake* – Astros (Mexico)
Tama Faamausili – returning
Liam Judd – Franklin Bulls
Tu Kaha Cooper – returning
Pafe Momoisea – returning
Jackson Stent – Canterbury Rams
Josh Leger – Franklin Bulls
Mustapha Heron* - Rio Grande Valley Vipers (G League)

Coach: Trent Adam
Anthony Hilliard* – returning
Armon Fletcher* – Santa Cruz Warriors (G League)
Richie Rodger – returning
Anzac Rissetto – Franklin Bulls / South-East Melbourne Phoenix (ANBL)
Marcel Jones - returning

Coach: Guy Molloy
Brayden Inger – returning
Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape – returning
Romaro Gill* – returning
Johnny Helu – Wellington Saints
Alonzo Burton – returning
Ben Hall – Canterbury Rams (2021)
Grant Anticevich* – South-East Melbourne Phoenix (ANBL)
Jeremy Kendle* - Logan Thunder (NBL1)

Coach: Everard Bartlett
Jordan Hunt – returning
Hyrum Harris – returning
Jordan Ngatai – Wellington Saints
Derone Raukawa - returning

Coach: Aaron Young
Rob Loe – returning / NZ Breakers (ANBL)
Reuben Te Rangi – South-East Melbourne Phoenix (ANBL)
Cameron Gliddon* – NZ Breakers (ANBL)
Tom Beattie – returning
Nick Barrow – returning
Chris McIntosh – returning
Charlie Dalton - returning

Coach: Troy McLean
Tom Vodanovich – returning / NZ Breakers (ANBL)
Tohi Smith-Milner – South-East Melbourne Phoenix (ANBL)
Kenneth Tuffin – returning
Kyle Adnam* - South-East Melbourne Phoenix (ANBL)

Coach: Brent Matehaere
Sam Timmins – returning / NZ Breakers (ANBL)
Jack Andrew – returning / Perth Wildcats (ANBL)
Darcy Knox – returning
Matt Bardsley – returning
Josh Aitcheson - returning

Coach: Daniel Sokolovsky
Isaac Davidson – returning / NZ Breakers (ANBL)
Tyrell Harrison – Brisbane Bullets (ANBL)

Coach: Mike Fitchett
Sam Dempster – returning
Nic Trathen – returning
Alex McNaught – returning / NZ Breakers (ANBL)
Tom Ingham - returning

Coach: Judd Flavell


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