The Breakers need not look far for a cautionary tale about the importance of replacing Cedric Jackson.
After announcing the point guard - along with forward Tai Wesley - would not be returning to the club, the onus is on the beaten finalists to recruit a player who can ensure a continuation to the current culture of success.
Jackson led the Breakers to four grand finals in his four seasons in New Zealand, but it's the year he was absent that truly underlined the American's value.
Having collecting a couple of Australian NBL championships before heading to Europe in search of a bigger pay cheque and a better NBA pathway, Jackson was replaced by overmatched rookie Kerron Johnson and the Breakers slumped to second-last.
So while Jackson's departure was framed as an exciting chance for the club to move in a new direction, those emotions could very well change if the wrong player was signed to run the point.
"As great as Ced is and was for this club - and his record speaks for itself - for me it's an opportunity rather than a blow," coach Paul Henare said of Jackson's exit. "There are a lot of quality players around the world - you just have to put a little bit more work in to replace not necessarily what Cedric brought but what fits within the group."
Once a soft salary cap was introduced to the league, Jackson's signature was always going to be tough to attain, and the Breakers were already preparing themselves for the possibility of seeing the 30-year-old in another club's colours. While neither Jackson nor Wesley have a confirmed destination, both are proven prospects in the league and both will be prizes on the open market.
"Someone of Ced's calibre, we knew he was going to attract a lot of attention with the way the salary cap's set up now," said general manager Dillon Boucher. "We were realistic there was a good chance that other teams would be able to make a better offer to him.
"It just means a different direction, really. We're certainly very confident that, even though they won't be in Breakers colours next year, we'll be putting together a fantastic roster."
The Breakers have four open spots on that roster and, while new rules enabled a third import, Boucher was targeting two overseas players and two locals to round out the playing staff.
The capricious nature of imports was proven by the Johnson experiment, meaning a proven prospect like Charles Jackson could appeal to fill one hole. But with the big man back in the United States testing the NBA waters, it was likely the Breakers would have two new Americans suiting up next season.
Breakers 2016/17 Roster (7 of 11 players signed so far)
Mika Vukona (forward), Tom Abercrombie (swingman), Corey Webster (guard), Kirk Penney (guard), Alex Pledger (centre), Finn Delany (forward), Shea Ili (point guard)