The first big twist of the Sal’s NBL free agency period has occurred with Jordan Ngatai headlining a swag of Tall Blacks signing on for season 2023.
To the surprise of many Ngatai is on the move, bidding farewell to his beloved Wellington Saints and flying north to saddle up with the Taylor Hawke’s Bay Hawks, a cunning move by new Hawks general manager and fellow Tall Black Jarrod Kenny.
Preparing to take on the dual role of general manager and on-court leader, it appears Kenny’s Tall Blacks connections are alive and well with Everard Bartlett signing on to coach, before Jordan Hunt, Hyrum Harris and then Ngatai also joined the action.
Currently enjoying a strong season with the Adelaide 36ers in the Australian NBL, Harris was the prized announcement in week four of free agency. The versatile swingman has arguably been the New Zealand competition’s best two-way player over the last few years with a consistent ability to deliver energy and stats at both ends of the court.
Harris is expected to play a significant role for the Hawks as they attempt to win an elusive championship after a string of near misses in recent years.
Other signings over the last week included Tohi Smith-Milner returning to the Saints after spending 2022 in Melbourne with the Sandringham Sabres, and star centre Rob Loe returning to the Tuatara, while Brayden Inger publicly stated he had a chip on his shoulder after a down season with the Sharks last year and a firm desire to bounce back in the deep south this season under new coach Guy Molloy.
Six teams have now announced players ahead of the season tipping off on April 6, with only the Giants, Bulls, Rams and 2022 champions the Nuggets yet to hit the headlines.
To check out all the latest signings visit the Sal’s NBL free agency tracker HERE.
Coach: Natu Taufale
LaGerald Vick – new (restricted)
Danny Pippen – new (restricted)
Javion Blake – new (restricted)
Tama Faamausili – returning
Liam Judd – new (Franklin Bulls)
Tu Kaha Cooper – returning
Pafe Momoisea – returning
Coach: Trent Adam
Anthony Hilliard – returning (restricted)
Richie Rodger – returning
Anzac Rissetto – new (Franklin Bulls)
Marcel Jones - returning
Coach: Guy Molloy
Brayden Inger – returning
HAWKE’S BAY HAWKS
Coach: Everard Bartlett
Jordan Hunt – returning
Hyrum Harris – returning
Jordan Ngatai – (Wellington Saints)
Coach: Aaron Young
Rob Loe – returning
Coach: Troy McLean
Tom Vodanovich – returning
Tohi Smith-Milner (Sandringham Sabres)
Coach: Daniel Sokolovsky
Coach: Judd Flavell
Coach: Brent Matehaere
Coach: Mike Fitchett