NBL loses another superstar as reality hits hard
Sydney Kings star Casper Ware is the latest high-profile import to opt out of his NBL contract as a result of the league's salary cuts.
The American point guard was the highest-paid import in the NBL last season after Sydney lured him away from Melbourne United.
But an agreement struck in April between the NBL, its nine clubs and the Australian Basketball Players' Association would have resulted in Ware's contract slashed by 50 per cent next season.
Stream over 50 sports on-demand with KAYO SPORTS on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Just $25/month, no lock-in contract. Get your 14-day free trial and start streaming instantly >
The deal is part of the league's cost-cutting measures in dire financial circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The NBL confirmed that Ware will now test the market overseas, following dual NBL MVP Bryce Cotton (Perth), Matt Hodgson (Brisbane) and Xavier Cooks (Sydney) in pulling the pin in recent days.
Players have a deadline of May 4 to decide whether to exit their contracts. NBL chief executive Larry Kestelman is hopeful that players who choose to look at other options overseas could still return to Australia.
Clubs who lose players under the April agreement will retain rights to those players if they do return Down Under next season.
"We respect the rights of players to test the market," Kestelman said.
"The agreement with the Australian Basketball Players' Association was done by the NBL on behalf of the clubs who were unanimous in their support of the players and wanted to avoid stand downs as they managed the impact of the virus.
"Those players who choose to explore their options can still opt back in to their NBL contracts and we believe there will be a number who do so as the situation in regards to COVID-19 and its impact on various basketball leagues around the world becomes clearer."
In better news for the NBL, Boomers swingman Mitch Creek has announced he is staying with South East Melbourne.
Creek said in April he was weighing up his options in order to take care of financial obligations after having his salary cut in half.
On Monday Creek reaffirmed his commitment to the NBL's newest franchise, which made its debut last season.
"I'm staying to repay the fans and the club," Creek said.
"We started something, and I want to continue to build it.
"It will be tough, but everyone is doing it tough, our fans are doing it tough and that's why I've decided to stay and get through this together."
Originally published as NBL loses another superstar as reality hits hard