Featured News / March 30th, 2016

NBL Announces Changes to Player Contract & Salary Rules

The National Basketball League is looking to the future, announcing broad reforms to its player contract and salary rules for the 2016/17 season.

Team lists will grow from 10 to 11 players, more opportunities will be made available to development players and salary cap rules have been changed substantially to continuously improve the quality of the sport while also ensuring the long-term competitiveness of all teams in the league.

NBL General Manager Jeremy Loeliger said the changes were made with a view to the future rather than focusing solely on the short term.

“We have shown in the past year that we want to establish this league as one of the best sporting competitions in the country, and one of the best professional basketball leagues in the world.”

“To that end we are looking to encourage those Australian and New Zealand players currently competing overseas to consider returning to the NBL. These changes may not have an immediate impact across the League but in the coming two or three years we hope to see the quality of the competition continue to evolve,” he said.

Two key revisions include changes to the salary cap and player points system, both of which were developed in collaboration with the Australian Basketballers’ Association and the NBL Commission.

The former ‘hard cap’ of $1 million has been replaced by a ‘soft cap’ of $1.1 million.Teams may exceed the soft cap provided that they pay a salary equalisation subsidy based on the extent to which they have exceeded the cap. The subsidy will be distributed to teams which may otherwise find it difficult to meet the salary cap.

Every player in the competition will be given a player value by an independent Contract Review Committee.  It is that value – an independent measure of each player’s market value – which will be counted towards the salary cap – not the dollar amount, or the value of other benefits, which the team has contracted to pay to the player.

“In order to ensure that wealthier teams are not able to ‘stockpile’ talent on their benches when those players could or should be in the starting line-up of less wealthy teams, a talent-distribution threshold has been introduced which requires that any 5 of a teams’ players must, collectively, be paid no more than $400,000 (in 2016/17 and subject to adjustment thereafter).  These measures have been introduced to replace the existing player points system,” Loeliger said

The marquee player system has also been revised.

“In conjunction with the revisions made to the salary cap system we hope this will incentivise teams to retain Australian and New Zealand talent at the very highest level in the long term.”

This will mean that any non-restricted (local) player may be nominated by a team as its marquee player, meaning that only the first $150,000 of that player’s salary will be counted toward that team’s salary cap, a move that for the first time sees Australian players being acknowledged by the NBL as some of the best in the world.

Any team may replace any one or more of its restricted player entitlements with an additional non-restricted marquee player, with the salary cap amount increasing by $50,000 for each additional marquee player. (i.e. $200,000 of a team’s second marquee player’s salary would be counted toward the salary cap, $250,000 for the third and $300,000 for the fourth).

Australian Basketballers’ Association Chief Officer, Jacob Holmes, said the adjustments were a big step forward in re-engaging with our Australian talent playing off shore while maintaining the opportunities for local players to excel and grow within the top league in the country.

“We want as many opportunities for our Australian players to better themselves in high quality competition as possible. The increase in the playing list numbers and the changes to the salary cap, removal of the Player Points System and new marquee player rules will help us to work with our incredibly talented stars overseas while continuing to showcase our existing and new up and coming local talent.”

The return of the Brisbane Bullets to the NBL in 2016/17, along with the introduction of an additional rostered player into each existing team, and greater prospects for development players, mean that many more Australians and New Zealanders will be afforded the opportunity to play basketball at a professional level immediately.

In addition, teams will be permitted to contract one more restricted player (import) than in previous seasons, taking the total to three, whilst also having the ability to sign any player from Asia & Oceania as a non-restricted player (by application to the NBL).


Key highlights of the changes are listed below:

  • Rosters increased to 11 contracted players.
  • Existing ‘hard cap’ of $1m to be replaced by a ‘soft cap’ of $1.1m, exceeding which will result in a team having to make a salary equalization subsidy contribution.
  • Salary cap in future years determined by averaging all teams’ salary payments for the prior season.
  • Development players now permitted to play in all home and away games and age limit rises from 24 to 25.
  • One player per team from a FIBA Asia or Oceania country other than Australia or NZ may be contracted as a non-restricted player.
  • Marquee Player System to apply to non-restricted players only.
  • Up to 4 marquee players permitted per team, and only a specified component of their salaries will be counted toward the salary cap.
  • Up to 3 Restricted (Import) Players on each roster
  • Aggregate salaries of at least 5 players on each team must not exceed $400,000 in 2016/17.
  • Salary Floor implemented – Clubs must spend at least 90% of the Salary Cap.
  • Salaries publicly disclosed.
  • Player Points System removed.
  • Player Values for Salary Cap purposes to be assigned by Contract Review Committee – their values will override the salary submitted on paperwork to the NBL as a measure to police the Salary Cap and ensure Players are appropriately valued.
  • $1.1m Salary Cap is a Soft Cap, with teams able to spend over and above this figure however they will be required to contribute to the Salary Equalisation Subsidy Account. Funds accrued in this account will be able to be distributed to Clubs who are struggling to meet the Salary Floor.

Marginal Equalisation Subsidy Rates are in the following table:

% Spend over ‘Salary Cap’ Subsidy:
•   1-15% •     25c / $1
•    16-30% •     50c / $1
•    31-50% •     $1 / $1
•   Over 50% •   $1.50 / $1