The New Zealand Basketball League will be without some of the country's top talent after it was confirmed all five players contracted to the NZ Breakers won't be playing in this year's competition.
It's a major blow to the league that tips off on June 23. For years Breakers players have helped bolster teams and the competition, but CEO Matt Walsh confirmed that won’t be happening this year.
"The five guys we have under contract, Tom Abercrombie, Corey Webster, Rob Loe, Finn Delaney, Jarrad Weeks have all told us they don't intend to play," Walsh said.
While it was a decision the players made themselves, Walsh endorsed the choice and believed it was the right one.
He said the conversations he had with the players were brief.
"I know we spoke with some of the guys and their concern over injury, playing three days a week and the lack of preparation came to mind," Walsh told Newshub.
"So those were the reasons they gave us.
"It's probably best for our players to not risk the injuries and not play."
Two weeks ago Newshub revealed as many as 10 players were likely to pull out due to player welfare concerns, similar concerns that Walsh said his players talked about.
"I think the format that they proposed I assumed that they must have anticipated a lot of the top guys weren't gonna play," Walsh said.
While disappointing, the news of no Breakers players playing this year didn't surprise NBL boss Justin Nelson.
He said he didn’t expect any players under contract to be playing in the competition but is hopeful players from other Aussie NBL clubs won't follow suit
"There's a number of ANBL teams in Australia who have spoken to us and certainly want their kiwi players to come back and play in this competition," Nelson told Newshub
Giving those players added confidence, is a soon to be announced insurance deal set to protect them if they get injured.
He said they’re also on the verge of signing an off-shore broadcasting deal that would mean more money for players and teams.
Whether that’s enough to convince the rest of the country's top players to suit up is unknown.
All that will become more clear when player registrations open on Monday.