Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats won five more games than any other NBL teams this season but one coach says it’s only because the league is totally uneven when it comes to cash.
Basketball fans in Australia are being “misled” by the NBL where an uneven financial playing field means some clubs are ”no chance” to regularly compete for a title.
Former Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis sent a parting shot to league officials after coaching his 150th and final game with the Brisbane Bullets on Tuesday night.
Having “overachieved” with his team, which has a budget well below that of this year’s title contenders Melbourne United and the Perth Wildcats, Lemanis called on the NBL to be more transparent about the money each club is able to spend on players.
He wants it made clear so teams and supporters have a realistic idea of who is a legitimate challenger for the title after the Bullets missed out on the finals this season.
“There’s two clubs that added NBA Australians at the back-end of the season. They’ve already been allocated their budget, spent it and they’ve been able to find more money to add those guys to the roster,’’ he said.
“That’s the environment the NBL is operating in now … I think it would be fantastic if all that was made transparent. Not individual player salaries but just total spend so that the public is actually informed, and fans have a realistic expectation on where their teams are going to finish at the end of the season and can get behind something else if it’s not built financially to compete with the big boys.
“If the fans in Cairns think that they have the same chance of winning as the fans at Melbourne United, they are being misled.
“Fans want to know why you can’t recruit Jock Landale. Finances, basically.’’
Brisbane has been one of the lowest-spending clubs on player wages and off-court resources since they re-entered the league in 2016 when Lemanis was appointed and the NBL controlled the finances.
Lemanis is proud of the club’s achievements during his tenure despite the financial limitations, with Torrey Craig and Will Magnay graduating to the NBA from Brisbane’s program.
Former NBA player Kevin Martin heads Brisbane’s ownership consortium that is in the process of taking majority control of the club from the NBL. The consortium includes NBA players Khris Middleton and Thad Young and several Hollywood heavy hitters.
Frustrated at seeing the club regularly outbid for off-contract playing talent and struggling with part-time support staff while cashed-up and well-resourced clubs prosper, Lemanis repeated his pre-match call to Brisbane’s owners to open their purse strings.
“The Bullets are at a bit of a crossroads. What they require from the new ownership is a true direction of where they want to take this club. What’s the goal?’’ he said.
“I don’t think it’s any secret in the fact that every club spends a different amount of money on their team. Finances aren’t the same for every club. Budgets for the teams are different.
“Given the financial restraints, we’ve certainly over-achieved on ladder position compared to budget spend. The club just needs to make a decision in terms of financing the group.’’