In my view this is the single most important issue in the NBL.
No doubt the competition is on the upswing. However, until you have a league where every team feels they can win a title every nine years (currently) then the poorer cousins will continue to scrap, do ok, recruit well, and then lose the players to bigger markets. Of course, Cairns is a case in point here.
A clearer, more even spending cap is what is needed so when any team, Cairns through to Sydney, identify local and international talent, then they are in the market to keep them. Much of this is player driven in all sports these days however, so it needs to be driven by the competition.
A big time, bigger picture negotiator is needed as the larger market teams will understandably want to control their revenue. This is the challenge, getting a better share for small markets to keep them competitive and legitimate in the competition. I get that the average 'Joe Supporter' from Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, may not want this to happen.
Any competition needs opposition, so a 4-team powerhouse league is not going to have the interest and variety. NZ, Illawarra and Cairns are fabulous additions to the league and give it regional support. Without them the NBL becomes a city league with a more finite spectator base.
Similarly, an effective draft system (I think AFL works OK) would help with equalisation.
It must be great being a Perth support knowing you will be contesting a title pretty much every year. But the danger remains that the NBL continues to head down the path of the EPL where money talks, 3-4 only are genuinely competing for a title and can buy up the good players, and many clubs would consider a top 6 finish as a ‘successful’ season.