Sal’s NBL 2021 – Rules Explained: Salary System and Roster Make-up

Following the explanation of the League's finals qualification rules, the next instalment of the Sal's NBL's Rules Explained series focuses on the League's salary system and the make-up of teams' rosters. 



  • Prior to the 2020 Sal’s NBL season, teams unanimously agreed to introduce a Salary System to help deliver a more competitively balanced competition and to assist teams in building increased sustainability. A panel of three developed the original system, including representatives from two teams: the Taranaki Mountainairs and the Wellington Saints.


  • The agreed ceiling (maximum total team salary) for the 2020 season was under 3% less than the total team salary of the 2019 Sal’s NBL champions. A floor (minimum total team salary) was also put in place for the first time.


  • When the 2020 season was changed to a ‘hub’ (the Showdown) due to COVID-19, it resulted in the postponement of the Salary System and the introduction of set player payments for the six-week competition. Payments were set according to the round players were drafted in and the majority of payments were paid by the League.


  • Following the 2020 Showdown the teams met to discuss the Salary System for 2021 and agreed to its re-introduction and a new ceiling. That ceiling is 5% less than the 2020 ceiling.


“All teams continue to support the League’s vision to increase each team’s health and sustainability, while also delivering a competitively balanced competition. The fact that our salary ceiling has reduced by just five percent during the ongoing Covid environment is a credit to the teams’ increased focus on building community partnerships and engagement with fans,” said League General Manager Justin Nelson.


2021 Roster Tiers and Salary System

  • Due to a combination of COVID-19, the implications of international travel, and an ongoing delay to the Australian NBL season where up to 19 New Zealand players are contracted, the Salary System for the Sal’s NBL is divided into three tiers.


  • Each tier has an amount of money that can be used by teams, along with a minimum or maximum number of players that have to be filled for each tier.


  • Tier 1 – Locally based players. These players must be eligible to play for New Zealand under FIBA rules. Team must sign a minimum of 8 Tier 1 players.


  • Tier 2 – Restricted players. These players are not eligible to play for New Zealand under FIBA rules. Teams are permitted to sign a maximum of 2 Tier 2 players.


  • Tier 3 – New Zealand players contracted to a 2021 Australian NBL when the Sal’s NBL commences (April 24th). These players must be eligible to play for New Zealand under FIBA rules, and must be in New Zealand and available to play from Round 9 onwards. Teams are permitted to sign a maximum of 2 Tier 3 players.


  • Players can be signed to a Paid Agreement (including Community Coaching) or an Amateur Agreement (must be NCAA eligible).


  • During the season teams must maintain a roster of a minimum of 12 players, while no roster can have more than 15 registered players.


Next in the Rules Explained series will be the MVP Voting System for the Sal's NBL 2021 season. 

The Sal's NBL tips off on April 24 when the Otago Nuggets take on the Wellington Saints at the Edgar Centre in Dunedin. The full schedule can be found here.


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