ESPN's Ultimate Guide to NBL Free Agency

NBL Free Agency is right around the corner, and this is your ultimate guide.

It feels like practically half of all players in the NBL are set to become free agents, so there's an expectation of a ton of movement. There are elite local players about to enter the market -- all eyes are on Keanu Pinder, William McDowell-White, and Luke Travers -- while we're likely to see a carousel of the league's role players.

Here's everything you need to know: from the important free agency dates to put in your calendar, re-signing and option decisions that have been made, and a rundown of the key free agents to keep an eye on.

Key Dates (AEDT)

March 27, 12pm: Options to be confirmed.

March 28, 9am: Free Agents List and Player Value/Salary information is circulated to teams.

March 30, 9am: Free Agency Opens.

Early re-signing and option decisions

Until free agency officially begins, teams are technically only allowed to negotiate contracts with their own players, exercise options, and enter negotiations with players who weren't on an NBL team in the previous season.

  • Nick Marshall signed a new three-year deal to return to the Adelaide 36ers, elevating to the roster after two seasons as a development player.
  • In Brisbane, Tyrell Harrison inked a new two-year deal to return to the Bullets. The second year is a team option, sources told ESPN.
  • Fabijan Krslovic has agreed to a new two-year deal to return to the Tasmania JackJumpers, sources said. Multiple teams were preparing offers for Krslovic, sources said, but the JackJumpers made the big-man a priority and kept him from entering free agency.
  • Anthony Drmic's mutual option with the Adelaide 36ers won't be exercised, sources said; he will become a free agent. Both parties opted out with the intent on renegotiating, sources said, but terms to a new deal couldn't be agreed to, meaning the 31-year-old will enter free agency.
  • Sam McDaniel declined his player option with the JackJumpers for the 2023-24 season, sources said; he will become a free agent.
  • Ben Ayre's team option with the Cairns Taipans won't be picked up, sources said; he will become a free agent.
  • Lat Mayen's team option with the Taipans will be picked up, sources said, so he'll remain with the team for the 2023-24 season.

Team notes

  • The Perth Wildcats are currently in conversations with both Todd Blanchfield and Mitch Norton about their respective future with the team, sources said. Both players dropped out of John Rillie's rotation as the 2022-23 campaign progressed, so there's no guarantee either will return for next season. With regard to Blanchfield and Norton, both parties are looking at what the best solution is going forward, sources said.
  • The South East Melbourne Phoenix still need to lock in a head coach, and that process will stretch into April. The team hopes to have a shortlist toward the end of March, with an eye toward securing a candidate in early April, sources said. The timeline aligns with the end of the NBA season, which allows coaches from NBA teams and other international markets -- Trevor Gleeson, currently with the Toronto Raptors, remains among those of interest to the Phoenix, sources said -- to be in contention for the position. Whomever the new head coach is will operate out of a redeveloped State Basketball Centre; a process that's on track to be completed toward the end of 2023.

Marquee-level free agents

Keanu Pinder

Pinder is an example of where betting on yourself pays off. The big-man had substantial offers from multiple NBL teams at the end of last season, but decided to opt in to his mutual option to play under a coach who's been most effective at maximising his game.

The 27-year-old would go on to win his second straight Most Improved Player award, be in the MVP conversation for a good chunk of the season, and is now arguably the top local free agent on the market.

Pinder averaged 17 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, and just signed to play off-season basketball in the ACB, with Fuenlabrada.

Pinder will have substantial offers from across the NBL, but also from around the international basketball world, and how he produces at Fuenlabrada may be a determinant for what level he plays at next. The expectation, sources said, is that Pinder will explore all of the high-level opportunities that have come his way since his MVP-level season, including playing NBA Summer League basketball for the first time in his career.

William McDowell-White

Considering the money teams usually spend on import point guards, and the ability to marquee local players, McDowell-White's value as a starter-level Australian lead guard is extremely high going into free agency.

The 24-year-old is the floor general for a New Zealand Breakers team that just forced Game 5 of the 2023 NBL Championship series, so he's demonstrated to be the type of point guard that can lead a team deep into the playoffs.

McDowell-White averages 10.7 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game, and eight of the league's 10 teams are preparing to make an offer for him, sources said.

Still in the midst of the Championship Series, McDowell-White has yet to engage with his upcoming free agency. Naturally, the Breakers have a strong desire to re-sign McDowell-White.

Luke Travers

Travers had a leap this past season and, at just 21, there's a sense he's still barely come close to his ceiling. The 6'9 forward averaged 9.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.9 assists per game -- shooting above 40 percent from downtown -- in his fourth season for the Wildcats, and will be among the most sought after free agents.

Travers will play NBA Summer League basketball with the Cleveland Cavaliers this off-season, sources said. He was drafted by the Cavaliers in 2022, and was part of their Summer League roster last season.

He formally announcned his intention to explore free agency on March 30.

Duop Reath, Jo Lual Acuil Jr., and Thon Maker

This trio of Australian big-men all have interest from multiple NBL teams; the only question is whether any would give up the financial opportunities they're earning in China in order to play in Australia.

We've already seen Nick Kay, for example, sign a new deal in Japan that's worth, sources said, effectively the amount of the entire NBL salary cap, so the substantial money to be made in Asia remains an obstacle for the Australian league to overcome.

Reath (Illawarra) and Lual Acuil Jr. (Melbourne) are proven starters in the NBL, while Maker has never played in the league; notwithstanding, all three are being targeted from teams across Australia and New Zealand.

Notable local free agents

Bul Kuol

Kuol, 26, will enter free agency with significant interest from across the NBL. Over his two seasons in the league, Kuol has emerged as one of the best point-of-attack defenders, and an effective three-point shooter. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.7 rebounds over the 2022-23 season, and most teams project him as a starter-level three-and-D piece.

Isaac Humphries

Quality local big-men are tough to find so, after a largely healthy 2022-23 season, Humphries should enter free agency with solid value. The seven-footer led the NBL in both blocks (1.7 a game) and block percentage (8.2%), while also averaging 9.6 points and 5.4 rebounds a game. United's priority this off-season is to bring back both Ariel Hukporti and Marcus Lee, so that leaves no room for Humphries; it's more than likely we'll see the 25-year-old in a different jersey next season.

Angus Glover

From purely an impact and efficiency standpoint, Glover is one of the most effective role players on the market. The 24-year-old has played an important role in the Kings' past two seasons, averaging 7.0 points a game and shooting it at 43.4 percent from behind the three-point line during his 2022-23 campaign. The Kings have a desire to re-sign Glover, sources said, and the understanding is that the interest is mutual.

Daniel Johnson

The 36ers haven't shown a desire to bring Johnson back, sources said, so his 13-year stint in Adelaide is more-than-likely coming to an end. The big-man averaged 11.1 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, in 22 minutes a contest, coming off the bench over the back half of the 2022-23 season.

Isaac White

White enters free agency as the type of player seemingly ready to make a big leap next season. Among players with at least one attempt from downtown, White led the league in three-point percentage (48.4%), was the leader in all qualified guards in true-shooting percentage (66.7%), and has been a rotation piece on playoff teams in all three seasons he's been in the NBL. The JackJumpers have a desire to re-sign White, sources said, but he's expected to have interest from multiple teams around the league.

Kyle Adnam

Teams around the league are under the impression Adnam is preparing to test his value on the free agent market, sources said, after a down year with the Phoenix. Adnam, who'll be 30 when the 2023-24 season begins, is coming off his worst shooting season since 2017 -- 49.9 true shooting -- but has demonstrated himself over the years as a valuable backup point guard option.

Matt Kenyon

Kenyon enters free agency after a second straight playoff campaign with the JackJumpers. The wing has been a consistent starter for Scott Roth's teams, averaging 4.3 points and 3.1 rebounds a game, emerging as a defensive-focused piece.

Anthony Drmic

With Drmic's mutual option not being exercised, he'll enter free agency coming off one of the best seasons of his career. The 31-year-old was one of the only consistent bright spots for the 36ers, averaging 10.3 points and 3.4 rebounds a game. The JackJumpers are among the teams expected to show interest in Drmic, sources said.

Rob Loe

Loe has been a key rotation piece for the Breakers' championship chase, emerging as one of the league's most effective and efficient bench players. The big-man averaged 5.7 points per game, on a 63.6 true-shooting percentage, scoring at all three levels at an extremely high rate. The Breakers have a strong desire to re-sign Loe, sources said.

Jason Cadee

It's unlikely Cadee returns to Brisbane, sources said, so he'll be one of the more sought-after local guards on the market. The soon-to-be 32-year-old is coming off a rough shooting season -- sub 30 percent from downtown -- but averaged 11.5 points and 4.1 assists a game, showing that he still projects as one of the most effective backup point guards in the league.

Mason Peatling

United isn't planning on rushing any of its re-signings this off-season, so Peatling, who just completed his third year with the team, will enter free agency. The power forward averaged 5.3 points and 4.3 rebounds a game, providing a valuable two-way presence for United over the course of the 2022-23 season.

Gorjok Gak

Gak had a desire for a change of scenery after his first NBL season in Brisbane and, after showing some flashes over his 2022-23 campaign, he's one of the more intriguing free agents. The 27-year-old big-man is coming off a season where he averaged 4.6 points and 4.1 rebounds a game for the Bullets.

Tanner Krebs

The Bullets had a desire to bring Krebs back into the mix under their new head coach, Justin Schueller, sources said, but the 27-year-old has chosen to test his value on the open market. Krebs' season was cut short with an ankle injury, but he was in the midst of a career year, averaging 8.3 points per game, shooting 34.6 percent from downtown. United and the JackJumpers are among the teams expected to show interest in Krebs, sources said.

Sam McDaniel

The JackJumpers' depth meant McDaniel's minutes in Tasmania were inconsistent, so he's chosen not to exercise his player option and will instead become a free agent. The 27-year-old averaged 4.2 points per game, and shot just 23.1 percent from beyond the arc, but is widely regarded as one of the NBL's premier perimeter defenders, so he's expected to receive interest from multiple teams.

Deng Deng

The Hawks had a desire to re-sign Deng but he turned down the team's initial offer, sources said, making him a free agent. The 31-year-old started every game for the 3-25 Hawks, averaging a career-high 8.6 points and 6.5 a contest, and projects as a quality bench piece going into this off-season.

Ben Ayre

With Ayre's team option not being picked up by the Taipans, he becomes a surprise free agent. The point guard, 27, averaged 5.8 points a game, shooting 34 percent from beyond the arc, and showed flashes as a bench scorer who can provide a spark on the offensive end.

Dillon Stith

Stith is a new addition to the NBL's local market. The Virginia-native secured his Australian citizenship in February, sources said, so he becomes an intriguing frontcourt option for teams. The 6'7 forward has been an injury replacement for United on two separate occasions, and most recently averaged 15.8 points and 6.8 rebounds a game in the NBL1 for the Frankston Blues.

Probable college returnees

Alex Ducas - Saint Mary's

Ducas is a 6'7" wing who could more-than-likely produce for an NBL team from day one. The senior out of Geraldton, WA is averaging 12.5 points a game, shooting 41.8 percent from downtown, for Saint Mary's going into the 2023 NCAA Tournament. He'll likely be a rostered NBL player entering the 2023-24 season.

Kyle Bowen - Saint Mary's

Another senior out of Saint Mary's, Bowen is another local big-man option for NBL teams. He's averaging 5.3 points and 7.2 rebounds a game, and has shown to be able to stretch the floor, shooting 39.5 percent on 2.5 three-point attempts a contest. It wouldn't be surprising to see Bowen sign a deal similar to Peatling's from a few years ago: a multi-year deal, starting as a development player, before being elevated to the playing roster.

Sam Mennenga - Davidson (junior)

Mennenga, a 6'9 and broad big-man out of Auckland, NZ, is another one of the local college players who could make an impact from the first day he steps on the NBL hardwood. He's still a junior but, if he chooses to leave college and go pro, his versatility for his size will likely see him have multiple roster spot offers from across the NBL.

Keli Leaupepe - Loyola

It wouldn't be surprising to see an NBL team take a chance on Leaupepe. The Melbourne-native averaged 13.3 points and 6.8 rebounds a game as a senior at Loyola Marymount, but it's the 43.6 percent from three-point range -- on 3.8 3PA -- that potentially makes him worth using a roster spot on. The size hurts - he's a 6'6 frontcourt player - but he has the size and strength to make up for that lack of height.

Kuany Kuany - California

Kuany just completed his fourth and final season at California, and was relatively impressive, averaging 9.0 points and 3.9 rebounds a game for the Golden Bears. A 6'9 wing, Kuany would project as a three-four type of forward at the NBL level; he's still raw, so a DP-plus-roster sort of deal makes some sense for the Melbourne-native.

Josh Bannan - Montana (junior)

Bannan just finished his junior year at Montana, but he's playing at a level where it's reasonable to think he might consider turning pro. For the second straight season, Bannan was a top-two player for the Grizzlies, averaging 15.0 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists a game over his 2022-23 campaign, on good shooting splits. He's a 6'10 big with good size and defensive instincts, so expect multiple NBL teams to consider using a roster spot on him.

Tre Armstrong - Cal Baptist

Armstrong's minutes were down as a senior, but he still produced admirably for Cal Baptist. The 6'6 wing averaged 6.8 points and 2.6 rebounds a game, while shooting 37.1 percent from downtown. His ability to stretch the floor has been Armstrong's calling card over his time at CBU, and he probably projects as a DP-level player to start his NBL career. Expect the JackJumpers, his hometown team, to show interest there.

Flynn Cameron - UC Riverside

Cameron just completed his fifth year of college, and it was the best of his career. The Kiwi guard, son of Tall Blacks head coach Pero Cameron, averaged 13.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 3.5 assists per game for UC Riverside, while shooting it at an impressive 40.9 percent from deep, on 6.1 attempts a contest. The 6'5 guard has Tall Blacks experience, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him on multiple NBL teams' radars.

Tyler Robertson - Portland (junior)

Robertson is another one of those players NBL teams are keeping an eye on, in case he chooses to leave college. The versatile wing still has his senior year to play, but averaged 15.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists a game for Portland, and NBL teams have been tracking him for some time. If a roster spot is on the table, don't be surprised if he chooses to forgo his final year with the Pilots.