What We Learned From The Trade Window

Photo credit: Masanori Udagawa/Photo Wellington

Slow Start As Expected

When the Sal’s NBL teams agreed to the introduction of a mid-season trade window they knew it was a building block for the future, and so the 2024 trade period looked to be more of a learning phase. Across the League, teams considered the benefits of making a trade versus where they sit at the mid-point of the season. All up four players moved teams, and four teams received a 6.5% bump in their salary cap. How those teams use the additional cash allowance is now the fascinating part - will they use the extra cash, and can they take this advantage and work it in their favour?

The Trade Window Winner

No doubt this goes to the Saints. They were calculated in their use of the trade window and seemingly achieved the outcome they were chasing. Josh Tutagalevao is a good player, a real competitor, but regular minutes just weren’t there for him in the capital. Instead of holding him, the Saints mastered a trade with the Jets that fully benefits Tutagalevao given he will immediately get a bump in minutes in a green singlet. It also helps the Jets in the front court where they need more size and competition, which Tutagalevao brings. The trade also means the Saints now have extra dollars to spend down the stretch and we all know what that means - look out for a prized recruit just in time to qualify for finals (if needed). The Saints used the trade window to perfection and did it where one of their own players benefits as well. A win-win.

Trade Window Loser(s)?

Hard to say right now as the second half of the season is still to play out, but given the Nuggets went into the window having lost five of their last six games, the silence out of Otago was surprising and may end up being a missed opportunity. At the Whai, where a forward was desperately needed, nothing eventuated, though it’s believed a replacement import for Vance Jackson Jnr is on the way and likely to suit-up shortly. The Sharks could also have done with some incoming talent, but nothing eventuated there. In year one of the window, it’s all a learning curve so looking for winners or losers doesn’t really mean much, but there will be a team down the stretch that might feel like the opportunity to change things up went begging.

The Happy Campers

It’s believed the Rams and Giants effectively put the ‘Sorry, Not Trading’ sign up, which is understandable. The Rams are on a terrific winning streak, while the Giants went into the window having just taken down the Saints in Wellington. It’s also understood that the Sharks were surprisingly quiet (but were open to chatting), while as mentioned the Nuggets had little to no interest in doing any business.

The Big Name That Fell Flat

The biggest name bandied about during the window was Troy Baxter Jnr from the Jets. It’s believed the 2023 championship-winning import asked the Jets to find him a new home during the window, and his agent is also believed to have put the feelers out amongst many teams, but they all came up empty handed. While there were a few stumbling blocks, it’s understood the size of Baxter Jnr’s contract played a key role in no other team biting. It also appears that the feeling between Baxter Jnr and the Jets was mutual, with the team parting ways with their forward shortly after the trade window closed. End result - no trade, and Baxter Jnr is no longer a Jets player with the team de-registering him.

The Quiet Achievers

It won’t be recognised, but behind the scenes it appears both the Hawks and Airs used the window as an opportunity to build learnings and intel for the future. While neither team pulled off a trade (and possibly didn’t try), it didn’t stop them from watching, listening and learning. Understanding the trade window rules was always going to be the first step for all teams, and it appears the Hawks and Airs cleverly worked in and around the window to build knowledge for the future. 

The Northern Deal

Going into the window it was known the Tuatara and Bulls had hatched a plan quite some time ago. Between the two, an amateur player and a minimum wage player switched colours, however neither player will likely feature outside of Rapid League. It’s believed both the Tuatara and Bulls wanted the extra cap space from a trade to pay more dollars to existing players. All of this is well within the rules and ultimately players are benefitting from the new system, which is one of the desired outcomes. The two northern teams just put a different spin on how to use the window to build a roster. 

A Big Miss? 

Did the biggest missed opportunities  actually occur before the trade window even opened when the Sharks let LaGerald Vick or when the Whai moved on from Vance Jackson Jr.? Not holding out one more week is likely a lesson every team noted for future reference. That said, clearly the Sharks had had enough and wanted immediate change while in the case of the Whai it seems the player wanted to return stateside. Fair enough. As it was, at least four teams are believed to have shown some interest in chatting about imports during the window and no doubt if Vick or Jackson Jr. were on the table that interest may have been piqued. In the end, the Whai moved on from a player who wasn't committed to being there and the Sharks released a player they no longer wanted, but they also have nothing to show for it.

Trading Isn’t For Everyone

In case you missed it, a player cannot be traded unless they fully agree to it, and they must also receive the same contract conditions at their new team (as a minimum), unless they agree to downgrade it. Though we won’t likely hear about it publicly, behind the scenes there were discussions with a few players about the prospect of moving teams, but outside of the four players who were traded, nothing else eventuated.


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