Well, it’s the NBL offseason and while some people may be switching back to other sporting codes for the winter or taking a hiatus off sports for the sake of your significant other, we are in the beginning of close to my favourite part of the NBL calendar.
“But Mitchell, it’s May?” I hear you say.
It can only mean one thing. NBL free agency!!
As of 9am last Tuesday, free agency officially began and teams were given the opportunity to sign players from the free agent pool. With a few big names such as Luke Schenscher, Cam Tragardh, and Gary Wilkinson, there is always the chance of a major shakeup of the balance of power in the league.
And this is what makes free agency one of my favourite periods of the NBL calendar. It is a time for excitement and positivity among fans. In every team and GM’s eyes, they can win the championship this upcoming season. Last season’s standings no longer matter. It is a time of prosperity and new beginnings.
In the past few weeks we have been hearing of teams shoring up their squads, re-signing current players and evaluating what holes need to be plugged from the pool of talent that is available to them.
Recently, Sydney has lost their starting frontcourt with rookie of the year Anatoly Bose, import Jerai Grant and also NBL First team centre Julian Khazzouh announcing they will not be returning to the Kings this season.
Shane Heal’s men have begun the rebuilding effort acquiring the services of ex Kings and more recently Taipans centre Ian Crosswhite. Crosswhite being one of the premier centres in the NBL is a great addition to Sydney for next season. Also, whispers of a James Harvey signing and Heal’s interest in Gold Coast youngster Jason Cadee make Sydney a team to keep an eye on in the next few weeks.
The Townsville Crocs have locked down six players that they were contracted last season. Beginning with the contract extension of young prospect Todd Blanchfield, re-signing of centre Ben Allen, Russell Hinder who missed all of last season with a broken leg, the Cedar brothers and the coveted signature of Boomer’s guard Peter Crawford.
With Oscar Forman from last season the only player that was contracted for this year, the Wollongong Hawks swooped quickly to keep some of its Australian talent. The Hawks re-signed Larry Davidson and Tim Conraad while Rhys Martin extended his stay in sunny Wollongong. Securing their Australian talent was a priority for the Hawks and although there were whispers of a potential return of power forward Cam Tragardh, he has taken his talents and plethora of post moves to Australia’s north.
Maybe it was the stories from former Cairns trio Ayinde Ubaka, Ron Dorsey and Daniel Dillon at Melbourne Tigers training? Maybe it was a phone call from Jamar Wilson asking him to consider playing in Cairns? Maybe orange is just his favourite colour? Either way, everybody’s second favourite team Cairns have signed big man Cam Tragardh.
Adding to that, the Taipans have been busy so far in the offseason signing young Australian talent from the US college system, Cameron Gliddon and Clint Steindl. Both are touted as excellent marksman from the perimeter, an attribute always favourably looked upon in the NBL.
Finally 36ers fans can take a sigh of relief with their swingman prodigy Mitch Creek committing for the next two years. Following weeks of uncertainty, speculation and sleepless nights, basketball fans in Adelaide will enjoy going to bed tonight.
So as this glorious period of free agency begins and we all hail our team’s signings as the catalyst for change or key to success, let us not be disappointed for the absence of the NBL until October.
Let us all feel that excitement of a clean slate and sky high championship aspirations. It’s free agency time baby!!