The Canberra Capitals hit the phones as soon as the WNBL free-agency period opened on Thursday, sending out first-day offers as they begin the mission to replace import stars.
WNBL boss Lauren Jackson is adamant the strength of the league will not suffer after officials decided to ban clubs from recruiting overseas players in an attempt to ease coronavirus-forced financial pressure.
The Capitals were already expecting to be without league most valuable player Kia Nurse this season, but French guard Olivia Epoupa was said to be keen to return for another title crack.
Canberra coach Paul Goriss is instead scouring the free-agents list and looking at any potential Australian players returning from overseas competition to bolster his roster.
"It was pretty clear when we were doing the financial modelling that we needed to try to make sure the clubs were in a viable situation," Jackson said.
"One of the best ways to do that was to make it so that [import] players couldn't come back. That was a tough decision because there have been so many good imports.
"But at the end of the day this is an unprecedented time and we needed to make the best decision for the clubs. What it does do is present opportunities for a lot of Australian athletes, and get some girls to come back from overseas. That's something I know a lot of the clubs are looking forward to."
The Capitals re-signed seven players this week in anticipation of the free-agency window opening, giving Goriss a core group as his foundation.
Keely Froling and Maddison Rocci committed on Thursday, while co-captains Marianna Tolo and Kelsey Griffin will also be back for another season when the competition starts in November.
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The Capitals need to recruit replacements for point guard Epoupa and Nurse, with Goriss starting his signing pursuit as soon as he was free to do so.
"Our priority was to keep consistency in the group ... to have the ability to be able to try to go for a third [championship in a row] is super important," Goriss said.
"Knowing there's no Oli and Kia, having a core group that's played together definitely gives us a step forward ... it helps for consistency. They know how each other plays and how to win big games.
"We've been through the [free agents] list several times to work out who our targets are. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out. A lot of teams will be after a good point guard. The great thing about Canberra and the Capitals is we offer a great environment.
"[University of Canberra sport director] Carrie Graf and I have been meeting on and off for the last couple of weeks. We've got our targets, so once 1pm hits we'll hit send to the agents with some offers. I expect players will want to make quick decisions."
Emerging Australian Opal Lauren Nicholson is on Canberra's radar, while the league is keen to lure Liz Cambage back to the WNBL to add some star power.
It’s hard to put all of my emotions into words. Sadness, anger, frustration, outrage...My heart goes out to all the families, friends &loved ones who have been affected by senseless acts of injustice and systemic racism not only recently but throughout history (1/2)— Kia Nurse (@KayNurse11) June 1, 2020
"We've got to find players who want an opportunity to come in and be a part of this," Goriss said. "They might be diamonds in the rough who just need an opportunity.
"There are only a couple of spots we need to fill. I'm supportive of the league's decision and understand the reasons behind it ... but I'm disappointed because I knew Oli wanted to come back. We've had some great imports who have put the league on the map."