Cairns boss Mark Beecroft admits there’s no way his NBL club can go toe-to-toe at the contract table with cashed-up franchises but believes that it isn’t the kiss of death for clubs like the Taipans.
The signing of Australia’s first NBA No.1 draft pick Andrew Bogut to the Sydney Kings is the latest and biggest coup for the rejuvenated competition.
Changes to salary cap and contracting rules two years ago allowed teams to spend above the $1.1 million-soft cap, with a luxury tax redistributed back to clubs that operate within the quota.
Noting that “money talks” when asked why NBA championship-winner Bogut chose Sydney, Australian basketball great Shane Heal told Fox Sports the Kings would already “have spent a fortune” on next season’s squad.
Meanwhile the Taipans, who welcome new coach Mike Kelly, have just three players on the books and are rank $21 outsiders to win their maiden NBL championship.
“It’s a challenge for us to compete head to head for a salary on a player,” Beecroft told AAP.
“But we can compete, develop talent and put a great team on the floor and found we don’t have to break budget to do that.
“We have beaten teams that have spent a lot more money than us.”
The return of the Brisbane Bullets has also stung the Taipans’ retention efforts, with long-time captain Cameron Gliddon the latest to be scooped up by their Queensland rivals.
The Taipans won the 2014/15 minor premiership but were sixth last season as a stacked Melbourne United claimed the title.
The NBL-owned Bullets, who also operate below the cap, landed Gliddon and New Zealand Breakers mainstay Mika Vukona in a frenetic first week of free agency.
Brisbane have also pinched former Taipans Shaun Bruce and imports Travis Trice and Torrey Craig since their 2016 return.
Beecroft isn’t shirking from the obvious hurdles though, backing the side to find a way to ruffle feathers later this year.
“Look at the ladder at the end of the season for the last two years,” he said in reference to Brisbane’s consecutive wooden spoons.
“We have a planned budget and stay flexible within those numbers to ensure we put a product on the floor that can compete.
“That’s enabled us to still be here talking when some clubs have been and gone.”
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