Questions Over the NBL

Will the NBL be worth watching if only 6 teams are in the League next season? Should the League take a break and rebuild from the bottom?

In all honesty the NBL has never been to appealing to most Aussies especially when the NBA is easily available to watch online and via Pay Television. And next season isn’t exactly going to hit high heights if only six teams take to the court. That’s the prospect the National Basketball League face at the moment, after both the Wollongong Hawks and Townsville Crocodiles went into voluntary administration earlier this month. The Adelaide 36ers, Perth Wildcats, Sydney Kings, Melbourne United, last season’s finalists Cairns Taipans, and Champions New Zealand Breakers are confirmed starters but the Crocs and Hawks along with a possible Brisbane Bullets franchise are no certainties to participate.

Six Sides Next Season?

As Townsville and Wollongong fight to stay in the league they’ll also have to fight to hold onto their top players. In a bid to stop other teams snapping at the Crocs players and swooping on the Hawks high flyers, the League’s Association has delayed its ‘free agent’ signing period until April 30, a period which usually begins just two weeks after the Grand Final Series, which was held in late February. The Time slot was changed due to fears players from those two clubs would take lesser offers from the six sides set to play next season to ensure their future in the sport. It’s hoped the new timeline will give the struggling duo time to rectify their financial issues and be able to offer their players’ contracts before other deals are done.

Shut Down and Start Again?

NBL chairman Graeme Wade says the League will carry on no matter what despite calls from an Australian basketball legend to put it on hold. Andrew Gaze, whose name still sits on the NBL MVP award believes the best option is a hiatus and a new beginning from bottom. The former Boomer who played during the NBL’s glory days called for a complete shutdown and a new model in place before the league starts up again. 

“Don’t put band aids over it. The model is broken, there’s got to be new ideas and a new thought process on how the competition could be run, because this is death by a thousand cuts.”

Right now NRL board members are attempting to negotiate a new television rights deal for the 2015/2016 though not knowing the exact number of teams is making the task difficult. Negotiations have involved Fox Sports and some free-to-air digital channels who’ve shown interest, as well as the possibility of Perform Media live streaming the league.

With the league in limbo it’s hard for fans to get excited ahead of next season, especially those who support the struggling sides that mightn’t be there. Will a six club competition prove popular with spectators? Or should calls for a ‘break and a rebuild’ be met?