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The Nuggets dropped out of the National Basketball League this season when their parent body, BBO, ran into financial difficulties.
BBO ceased trading in October, having accumulated nearly $180,000 in debt. It was on the cusp of appointing a liquidator but the basketball community rallied, and an agreement to pay 30c in the dollar was reached with creditors in May.
There was some slim hope the Nuggets could be revived in time for the 2016 season. But the Nuggets management group, led by Hickford, has decided the 2017 season shapes as a much more realistic goal.
Hickford, who contacted the Otago Daily Times yesterday, said the group would target the 2017 season for the Nuggets' return.
''That decision has been influenced by many factors,'' Hickford said.
''But when it came down to mitigating the risk of 2016, we didn't think we could mitigate that risk.
''We felt like there are a lot of structures that need to be in place around development before we can effectively tip off in 2017.
''Our local development structures will be the focus in 2016 and putting together a community focused model that is going to be sustainable.''
Hickford said the NBL board was split as to whether it needed the Nuggets back straight away ''but I'm sure they will agree we need to have a very strong model to go back in with''.
''We need to make sure that the brand is rebuilt and there is a good feeling around it ... for it to be successful. And it is not going to be successful unless the community is behind it.''
Hickford said it was time to split the Nuggets off from BBO and for the two entities to operate separately.
How that model will work is still be fine tuned. There will still need to be a level of co operation built into the arrangement but BBO's role will be to focus on the game's grassroots, while the Nuggets management group will be charged with running the franchise.
''We've taken a pretty pragmatic approach and it is around financial backing and making sure we have some assurance moving forward.''
Oceana Gold has been an enormous support for both Basketball Otago and the Nuggets and Hickford said he was looking forward to that relationship continuing.
''By all accounts they seem to be on board with us, which is great.''
Hickford said the next step was to put together a robust business plan in order to secure a playing licence for 2017.
Another item high on the agenda is making sure the region's top players remain in the area and have plenty of good quality basketball to keep them interested.