Basketball: NBL boss Justin Nelson ponders six expansion teams

Basketball: NBL boss Justin Nelson ponders six expansion teams
Photo credit: Photosport

Existing NBL clubs are under pressure to raise their games - both on and off court - as the league entertains the idea of expansion.

On Wednesday, general manager Justin Nelson confirmed that six potential expansion franchises were currently finalising bids to enter the competition.

Three have been revealed as South Auckland's Franklin bid, Basketball Otago and a group from Canberra, Australia.

The other three bids will be revealed in the coming weeks, but Nelson told Newshub that two are from New Zealand's North Island and the third is another Australian club.

Nelson said their ideal business model would involve 10-12 teams, but he put the league on notice that existing teams must continue to grow, and produce financial and performance results,

"We believe that the NBL here in New Zealand is a 10-12 team competition," Nelson said.

"That's what we are looking to do and this is the first part of it.

"It's really exciting that we have six teams trying to get in. There is also some pressure now on our incumbent nine teams.

"They have to make sure that they are holding up their end of the bargain and doing the best they possibly can to exhibit not only great basketball, but a great business model as well.

"The six that have put their hand up will be thoroughly analysed and looked at as to whether there are one, two, there or maybe none that are successful - we are not sure yet."

Tasmania's Southern Huskies entered the NBL this season, joining eight New Zealand franchises in the first sign of expansion for the league.

Australian Nelson, who has been in the job less than a year, arrived in New Zealand with a clear vision for the NBL.

The former Melbourne Boomers general manager has set high goals for New Zealand's premier basketball competition.

"When I came into this role earlier this year, I came in with a five-year strategy in hand," he said. "Part of that is to understand what our optimum model is, and to be able to reach that through growth and sustainability.

"Sustainability is the big thing. We have a competitive balance system that provides every one of our franchises with a clear direction over the next five years of what it costs to play in this competition.

"Going forward, we want to ensure there is the best opportunity for sustainability for the existing and expansion teams.

"We view the Huskies - and expansion in general - as both exciting and pushing this league to be the biggest and best in the Southern Hemisphere during the winter months.

Although there are two Australian bids in the wings, Nelson was quashed fears of a mass Aussie invasion into NZ competition.

"We can't lose sight of the fact that we are the New Zealand Basketball league - that's who we are, that is our identity.

"There is room to entertain more expansion involving Australian teams, but at the same time, we won't lose sight of who we are.

"That isn't lost on any of us."

Nelson said all six formal bids must be with the NBL by May 31.


Contact Newshub with your story tips: