The Otago Nuggets won't be in the National Basketball League next year but a return in the near future seems likely.

Basketball Otago opted not to apply for a position in the 2017 competition - Tauranga City was the only new franchise that submitted a bid by Monday's deadline - but will instead focus on the structures at a lower level to help build for a future bid.

''We're obviously looking at our pathways for our athletes going forward and the Nuggets are obviously part of that; when and where is the magical question,'' general manager of Baskeball Otago Justin Ludlow told Otago Daily Times.

''With any professional, or semi-professional, team you're going out there to win. So you need to build a team that's going to do that job for you.

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''We've got some very good players locally here. Whether they're at the level of the NBL league at the moment is another question.''

The Nuggets last competed in the league in 2014 but were forced out due to financial difficulty. Basketball Otago fended off liquidation and have slowly gone about rebuilding the organisation.

Ludlow says the best way to become competitive is to slowly build from the ground up.

''Our plan at the moment is to make sure our structures around our community game are pretty solid.

''We can't just rock out and expect to have an NBL-based side here; we've got to start from the start and build our player base up.

''Hence the reason to be quite cautious about looking at re-entry: we've been there before. If we're going to be doing it again, we don't want to be doing it for a year, or two years. We want to be doing it for the mid-long term and that's what attracts players to Dunedin.''

It is expected that Otago, North Harbour and Porirua will seriously look at applying for a place in the 2018 NBL by next April's deadline while the Manawatu Jets are also a chance of returning.