To Trade Or Not To Trade, That Is The Question

Photo credit: Blake Armstrong

The first ever Sal’s NBL trade window opens on Sunday May 12 with the 66-hour stretch providing teams with a chance to move some pieces around ahead of the second half dash to the Final 6. Sky Sport commentator Justin Nelson takes a look at a few trade scenarios and lists the ten trades he thinks teams and players should be considering.

The days are ticking down to New Zealand’s first ever mid-season trade/transfer window in sport. I expect a few trades to be completed, maybe three, but more importantly the upcoming 66-hour window will get GMs from each team picking up the phone, connecting and talking, and learning about the new system. Give it a few years and I think we can genuinely expect 8-10 trades each year. For now, though, first comes the learning.

A really good example of learning the tricks of the trade window unfolded earlier this week when the Southland Sharks let go of import LaGerald Vick, which in my opinion was a mistake. No problems in sending Vick packing, he hasn’t been a good fit for the Sharks and looked like he didn’t want to be there. But the southerners should have put him on gardening duties for a week while calling every team around the competition in need of an import.

Showing a player the door a little more than a week out from a trading period is potentially a missed opportunity.

Ponder this:

  • The Sharks tell Vick he won’t play in rounds 6 or 7, will still get paid, but a trade is imminent. 
  • The Sharks pick up the phone and seek any interest from teams around the league, of which the Jets immediately come to mind. The Palmerston North based team have a gap for an import (so the need is there) and they had previously come to terms with Vick in 2023 (so there is at least some interest).
  • The Sharks then look at what they can get in return – perhaps target former Shark Campbell Scott, who would be a very nice fit based on his rapid improvement this season. He’s young and works his backside off.
  • Vick heads north, while the Sharks now have Campbell Scott and both teams receive a 6.5% bump in their salary cap to bring in a better fitting import for the second half of the season, or maybe the likes of a Sam Mennenga or Finn Delany (if we're dreaming big) for a quick stint.
  • The fans see movement at the station, the Sharks are active and doing deals, and they get something rather than nothing in return for a player they don’t want.

I’m almost certain based on the above scenario the Sharks may have waited. When it comes down to it this opening year of the trade window is a learning exercise more than anything and teams will gain knowledge and adjust.

Here are the ten trades I would try and pull off if I was still in the GM game, taking into account what i think teams currently need, and also with a bit of speculation around what teams could do with a salary cap boost.

Dom Kelman-Poto (Bulls to Whai)

The Whai need a strong forward in a hurry, a player who commands the ball and controls the paint. Right now, DKP is sitting behind too many players at the Bulls and is being under-utilised. This is a guy who needs to be playing more. The Whai have a need, while the Bulls get to wipe some dollars off their stretched cap, and they have Jordan Hunt returning in a few weeks to soak up the big man minutes. Win-win, especially for Kelman-Poto who will go back to being a starter and likely play 30-plus minutes per game for a team who needs a true low-post presence to feed the rock.

Campbell Scott (Jets to Sharks)

This kid can play, and he’s a former Shark (albeit briefly). Get him starting beside Asberry, and utilise Scott’s outside shooting, let him be an added playmaker, share the role. The Jets have made it clear they are in the market for an import PG, which will possibly bump Scott back. He’s the sort of guy who would thrive under Guy Molloy. He gives the Sharks a quicker and more creative back court, more scoring punch, and a load of desire that manifests as itself an infectious work-rate.

Taki Fahrensohn (Rams to Nuggets)

The Rams have made it known they want to bring a trade in, not trade out, and you can put that down to wanting to get dollars for a bigger signing later in the season. The tactic has merit and is a crafty move. But another way to free up money is to dump a current contract off your books and Fahrensohn is a stock that other teams will be interested in. For some reason Taki doesn’t look like the right fit for the Rams, in my opinion, but a trip further south to the Nuggets could be a great landing spot. The 2022 champs are in need of a taller, multi-faceted sixth man and Fahrensohn fits the bill.

Robbie Coman (Nuggets to Jets)

Coman has dropped down the pecking order at the Nuggets (down to 14min per game) and would get a major boost in minutes at the Jets, where he can get up and down the floor with the likes of Lian Judd and Simon Lafaele. The Jets could do with a bit more size on the boards and Coman is the kind of guy who will play with intensity.

Derone Raukawa (Airs to Tuatara)

The Airs have stated they’d like to be active during the trade window and Raukawa’s contract is unlikely to break the cap for most teams, but who needs an experienced back-up PG? I’m going to Auckland where the Tuatara could do with a player like Raukawa playing a role behind both Corey Webster and Cam Gliddon, helping Aaron Young to keep his backcourt stars in good health and fresh for the business end of the season. Raukawa is the type of guy who can run with the best and he would add considerable depth to the Tuatara.

Rangimarie Dougall-Mita (Saints to Jets)

This is more of a short-term opportunity for the player. Could the Saints send Dougall-Mita to the Jets on the basis that the athletic wing would be a starter in green and get a stack of minutes, something which can’t be afforded to him right now in the capital? Is Dougall-Mita ok playing a smaller role for a better team, or does he want the chance to play more minutes and showcase his talents for whatever comes his way in 2025?

Aidan Tonge (Rams to Sharks/Nuggets)

Both the Sharks and Nuggets need another strong forward and Tonge is a player on the rise and fully deserves more opportunities. A star on the 3X3 circuit with loads of international experience under his belt already, Tonge is nifty on his feet and has a high finishing rate around the basket and his game IQ looks top shelf. In many ways he may be a younger version of another 3X3 star, Dom Kelman-Poto, especially in the paint. Could Tonge carve out a bigger role down south?

Taane Samuel (Saints To ???)

Here’s a completely left-field trade scenario. The enigmatic Taane Samuel has been signed by the Saints to a contract prior to the trade window opening, so, should the Saints look to use the signing as an immediate opportunity to bring in more cap space during the trade window? Stick with me here … Saints signed Samuel and can now send him to the Jets (who need more size and scoring power) in return for the likes of Jackson Stent. Now, Stent will arrive at the Saints and mostly play Rapid League with perhaps some emergency cover if needed at any stage in the Sal’s NBL, but more importantly the Saints then get a 6.5% bump in their cap. End of the day – trade the signed Samuel in the trade window for a back-up big, and a salary cap bump in return to spend on another player. Not the craziest idea I've ever had.  

Alonzo Burton (Sharks to Hawks)

The Sharks have some decisions to make, and the trade window arrives at a perfect time for them to show fans they are active and want to return to the winner’s circle. While it’s not every day you would see the captain of a team being moved via a trade, the fact is the Hawks chased Burton hard through free agency and they like what he would bring to the team if he were to return to the Bay. Is this an opportunity for the Sharks to change direction? What would the Hawks be willing to do or give in return? Can the Sharks free up some cash and land a big fish, maybe Sam Mennenga of Finn Delany?                                                                                               

Dru-Leo Leusogi-Ape (Bulls to Whai)

The Whai need more scorers and if given the right opportunity, in the right environment, Leusogi-Ape can flat out score. Like a number of players at the Bulls, the talented youngster is stuck behind others and the opportunity to shine and play meaningful minutes in the Sal’s NBL are lower than he may have anticipated. The Whai would be a great landing spot for him with a coach who is building for the future and has a strong background in coaching young players.


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