This is an interesting article stating Tai Wesley may not get the special restricted player exemption next year once his current contract runs out.
He may have to play as an import if the exemption is not extended to Guam, could he get an import slot?
I don't see why not if the price is right....stats-wise he is better than Nnanna Egwu, Delvon Johnson and of course Derek Cooke Jr. Note : I am not suggesting any of those imports are no good, just that there are imports taking up a slot with lesser stats than Wesley.
Melbourne United forward Tai Wesley will play his 100th NBL game on Saturday night and it should be a joyous occasion.
But Wesley fears his time in the league could soon be over if he is forced to play as an import next season.
Wesley was born in Utah but spent part of his upbringing on the island of Guam, a US territory in the Western Pacific, which plays international basketball in the FIBA Oceania region.
Wesley and his brothers still play for the Guam national team.
In 2014 the NBL and Basketball Australia allowed Oceania players to be classed as local players just like Australian and New Zealand players.
The idea was for promising talents from the smaller Oceania nations to play in the NBL, but the rule was largely used to sign dual internationals who had played US college basketball.
New Zealand Breakers signed Wesley under the rule and he won a championship in 2015 before moving to Melbourne on a two-year deal at the start of last season.
But the exemption rule was changed at the start of this season from an "Asian or Oceania" player rule to a "special restricted player" rule.
The change was enacted to encourage clubs to chase the best possible players from major Asian markets - with the aim to attract more overseas fans – and their contracts are not counted under the league's salary cap.
The NBL told The Age that China, India, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines and Taiwan were the countries for this season and before free agency each year the countries would be reviewed, with clubs able to propose potential additions.
With Wesley already under contract for this season the league allowed him to remain an unrestricted player and have spoken with his agent about his options for next season.
It's unlikely Guam will be added to the list of countries as it is too small to draw many viewers.
It's understood if Wesley chose to start the process to become a naturalised Australian or New Zealand player the league may allow his unrestricted status to continue while he goes through the process.
Wesley's wife and two young children are in Melbourne and he would love to finish his career in Australia, but he knows teams would find it a lot harder to sign him as an import.
"You go on these teams with a Dave Barlow or Thomas Abercrombie or Mika Vukona and you see this guy has notched up 250 or 300 games and you think 'man I will never get there'," Wesley said on Wednesday.
"So to get 100 is cool. If they let me continue to be a local I would love to stay in this league and finish my career here.
"If I can continue to play as a local in this league I would look forward to getting 200 games."
Wesley said his nationality caught less attention when he played for the Breakers although keen NBL supporters were aware of the Oceania rule soon after it was introduced.
"I was in a good situation where I was playing for New Zealand Breakers and everyone thought I was Kiwi – no one questioned it," Wesley said.
"Then I started doing these interviews and people realised I don't sound like a Kiwi or an Aussie so people started asking 'where is this guy from?' They had to pull up a globe and find Guam."
The NBL, Melbourne United and Wesley's agent are expected to continue talks as the season continues.
Melbourne United play Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong on Saturday night at 7.30pm.