Home » Kenny Smith appointed NBL Next Stars role: Former NBA player to gain team ownership, spearhead US initiatives | Sporting News Australia

Kenny Smith appointed NBL Next Stars role: Former NBA player to gain team ownership, spearhead US initiatives | Sporting News Australia

Two-time NBA champion and host of the mega-viral show ‘NBA on TNT’ Kenny Smith is set to enter the NBL world, after being appointed Head of Next Stars’ Player Initiatives – North America.

Smith, who played 10 years in the NBA across a number of teams, will come on board to help find and facilitate talent for the program that helped LaMelo Ball, Josh Giddey, and potential 2024 No. 1 pick Alex Sarr transition into the NBA. 

As part of this deal, The Jet will also become a part-owner of a soon-to-be-released new NBL expansion team, seeing the NBA veteran fully bought into the Australian league for years to come. 

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Former NBA player Kenny Smith announces new NBL role

The NBL’s Next Stars program has proved itself to be one of the most successful ways to get prospects into the NBA, and Smith’s injection as a North American spokesperson will only help this. 

According to Smith, his role will allow him to pursue his passion of growing the game of basketball on a global stage, as will his upcoming ownership. 

“With my passion for growing the game of basketball globally, I’m incredibly excited to be an ambassador of the NBL’s Next Stars program and to be fully invested in the growth of the NBL as a future owner of a new expansion team,” Smith said via a statement.

“Legitimate pathways to the NBA are evolving, and the NBL has a proven track record of getting players drafted. The NBL identified a key role for me to mentor and support young talent and equip them with the tools to compete at a professional level with a view to making the leap into the NBA.

“The growing recognition of talent development in the NBL has proven the League and its Next Stars program is poised for even greater success.”

Who will be the 2024-25 NBL Next Stars?

The NBL had a historically impressive Next Stars class, headlined by assumed top-three pick Alex Sarr, as well as names such as Bobi Klintman, AJ Johnson, and Trentyn Flowers, but next season’s could possibly be even more impressive. 

Returning for his second year with the Brisbane Bullets will be projected top-ten pick Rocco Zikarsky, who will presumably be joined in the league by fellow Australian young gun Roman Siulepa, who has been linked to the Tasmania JackJumpers and the Adelaide 36ers.

Other names that have been mentioned as prospective Next Stars include Nolan Traore, another Frenchman who worked out with the Perth Wildcats last off-season, as well as Canadian wing Will Riley, who has listed the NBL as an option and who recently followed the Wildcats on Instagram. 

Which NBL team will Kenny Smith own?

Currently, the next NBL expansion team has not been announced, but the league has been eager to add a new franchise in recent times. 

The NBL has been consistently expanding over the last half-decade, first adding the South East Melbourne Phoenix in 2019, before adding the Tasmania JackJumpers two years later – who recently claimed their maiden NBL championship. 

There has been a number of locations proposed as the next home for an NBL team, with cities like Canberra, Newcastle, Darwin and the Gold Coast all vying for a spot, as well as suggestions of second teams in both Sydney and Perth. 

Smith’s announcement as a future owner confirms that a new franchise will be announced imminently, as the NBL continues to grow.