The potential return of the Manawatu Jets is one of several significant changes being considered for the New Zealand National Basketball League.

The Jets pulled out of the competition in 2015, due to reduced funding and an unsustainable business model, but have submitted an application to return for the 2018 NBL season.

Basketball New Zealand CEO and NBL chairman Iain Potter says that a decision is close on whether the Jets will be back in the league.

"They applied and they are continuing to supply information. We had a meeting a week ago to consider their application. At the end of it, we required them to submit a little bit more information."


They are the only team with a chance of joining the established seven franchises in the 2018 competition, with Tauranga pulling out of the running.

"Tauranga asked us to suspend their application; they didn't have all their ducks lined up," explained Potter.

"Rather than jump in prematurely, they've asked us to hold it off, so it will go up again next year if they can line up the last few items."

If the Jets' application is successful, their re-entry to the league could coincide with several rule changes which are being weighed up by the NBL board.

The first regards the amount of Oceania players eligible, with concerns being raised at the end of last season of the rule being misused by teams looking to stack their sides with non-local talent.

Potter says it is a possibility that the Oceania rule could be scrapped completely.

"We've collected the opinions of all of the teams. The two options that have been looked include scrapping the Oceania rule. The weight of opinion seems to be on the "scrap it" side, so that means that those players would need to be seen as restricted players."

Potter also believes that the limit on naturalised players could be lifted; though that is unlikely to have a major impact in terms of eligible players.

"If they're eligible for the Tall Blacks, which means they've had to live here for the best part of five years, or if they came here after their 16th birthday and have lived here for the rest of their life, then why limit their opportunities?"

Possibly the most impactful rule change up for debate is increasing the number of restricted players per team from two to three - a change only likely to be made if the Oceania rule is scrapped.

"The question then becomes, if we drop the Oceania rule and if we change the naturalised rule, should the restricted rule be two or three players?" poses Potter.

"There's a tradeoff which wouldn't amount to many different players. That's what we've put to the teams, we've got opinions on them individually, but what happens when you wrap them all up."

The 2018 season will start later than usual, due to the Commonwealth Games. The season is confirmed to start in late April to avoid a clash with the Games, and will pause for a week at the end of June for the Tall Blacks' FIBA international window. The season will then conclude with the Final Four at the end of August.