the official start to recruiting players for the Sal’s NBL 2022 season tips-off on Monday at 9am (November 29) when free agency opens with all 10 men’s teams certain to hit the ground running as they chase players' signatures.
With ongoing border restrictions set to delay the immediate signing of international stars, all eyes will be on the local market during the opening days of free agency with a number of big named recruits expected to be snapped up quickly.
Ethan Rusbatch, Dom Kelman-Poto, Jordan Hunt, Tai Wynyard, Derone Raukawa, and Taylor Britt are just a handful of the local stars tipped to be hotly sought after, while a number of the near-20 Kiwis about to start the ANBL season will also attract plenty of offers with their return into New Zealand expected from the end of April when the delayed Australian competition’s regular season finishes.
The league will again be governed by a salary system which has been put in place and agreed to by all teams. The success of the system was evident during the 2021 season with competitiveness across the league improving and crowds jumping by more than 60 per cent, while seven teams returned a surplus to highlight the fact the league’s overall focus on building resources and better business platforms continues at haste.
On average, in 2021, player payments also grew by approximately 15-20 per cent as more teams moved towards being able to meet the limits of the salary system.
While waiting for free agency to start, teams have been actively locking down their coaching line-ups, which just last week saw the Canterbury Rams secure the prized signature of Judd Flavell and the Wellington Saints snare Sky Sport Tall Ferns coach Guy Molloy.
Overall, incoming League General Manager Huw Beynon believes next week will be a busy one for the Sal’s NBL.
“The start of Free Agency always brings some surprises, and I anticipate the odd eyebrow raising over the next few weeks. It's an exciting time for teams, players, and fans, as roster begin to become formed, and predictions start orbiting the league atmosphere.
"With next season presenting so many unknowns - from border openings to Tall Blacks duties, to kiwis returning from overseas leagues - our 10 General Managers will have to think this one through extremely well to gain an advantage over their rivals."
The schedule for the 2022 Sal's NBL will be released in the coming weeks.