G League salary bump good news for KU's current and future NBA draft hopefuls


NBA G League logo

NBA G League logo by Matt Tait

Wednesday morning, SIG Sports announced on Twitter that it had signed on to represent KU senior Svi Mykhailiuk in the upcoming NBA Draft process.

Mykhailiuk is one of four players from KU's 2017-18 Final Four roster who will be trying to make it in the NBA this summer — five if you count freshman-who-never-was Billy Preston — and that group will joined by dozens of other seniors, Europeans and college underclassmen who will be trying to earn one of the 60 spots available in the two-round NBA Draft.

In reality, it's those first 30 spots that are coveted most because they represent guaranteed money. Any deals made after that are non-guaranteed and do not give the player — whether drafted in the second round or signed on as an undrafted free agent — any promise of NBA paychecks.

It remains to be seen how the KU crew — Mykhailiuk, Preston, Devonte' Graham, Malik Newman and Lagerald Vick — will fare in this year's draft, but even if things don't go as well as they might hope, those players will have other options as they pursue the start of their pro careers.

And thanks to some news from the NBA's G League on Tuesday, one of those options just became a little sweeter.

Although the G League does not function in quite the same way as Major League Baseball's minor league system, where players are supposed to pay their dues, spend their time and work their way up through the ranks, the NBA's de facto minor league is becoming more and more of a viable option for professional basketball players in this country to make a decent living.

The league announced on Tuesday that it was raising its base salary per player for the 2018-19 season to $7,000 per month for the five-month season, which works out to $35,000 salary for any given player. That's in five months. Not bad for less than half a year of work.

Right now on, you can find the following jobs that offer a starting salary of $35,000 a year — Front Desk Associate, Administrative Assistant, Data Entry Clerk, Assistant Restaurant Manager, Warehouse Clerk and more.

I don't know about you, but I know I'd rather make that kind of money as a five-months-a-year ballplayer than any of those other options.

The point is this: Even though it can be seen as risky for guys like Malik Newman or Lagerald Vick to leave school early in search of a pro contract, there are now better and better options, even right here in this country, that significantly increase the odds of their decision being a good one.

Let's say those two guys don't get drafted by an NBA team this summer but some franchise likes them and tries to sign them to its G League affiliate. Could be worse. In addition to a pretty solid living for a young man fresh out of college, G League players also receive a housing stipend, travel per diem and health insurance.

That's a pretty good life in a hurry.

And that's to say nothing of the handful of guys who are lucky enough to receive two-way contracts from the G League and the NBA, which sets their salary at $77,250 (also up from last year's rate) and gives them a better shot of making the jump up to the NBA at some point.

What's more, with the G League now having official NBA affiliates in 28 cities, Tuesday's announcement of higher salaries promised that the amount would go up when the NBA gets all 30 franchises locked in with affiliates. So even more money is on the way.

As the NBA heads toward the elimination of its minimum age rule that often requires players to spend at least one year in college, this whole trend will become even more important.

As high school stars such as Darius Bazley, a McDonald's All-American who was headed to Syracuse but now plans to jump right to the G League, start to explore the option of skipping college altogether even if the NBA is not in their immediate future, the financial part of the equation begins to make better sense.

And all of this does not even include the idea of playing overseas, where even bigger contracts can be found.

It's no longer a situation where life after college basketball (or high school in some cases) has to come with an NBA or bust mentality. Yeah, that's where you'll become a star and that's where players become millionaires.

But other pro contracts throughout Europe, in Australia and now even in the G League can provide a pretty good living.

Here's a quick look at the official release about the increase in salaries from the G League, which includes some interesting statistics about the rise in G League players getting a crack at the NBA. Oh, and for what it's worth, I do think Newman, Graham and Mykhailiuk will all be drafted in this June's NBA Draft.


NEW YORK, April 17, 2018 – The NBA G League announced today the salaries for the 2018-19 season: players under NBA G League contracts will earn a base salary of $7,000 per month – or $35,000 – for the five-month regular season.

In addition to their salaries, players under NBA G League contracts will continue to have the opportunity to earn additional money through affiliate player bonuses and NBA Call-Ups. This season, about one quarter of players under NBA G League contracts also earned an average of $44,000 in NBA affiliate player bonuses – a total of more than $3 million on top of their NBA G League salaries. A record 50 NBA G League players earned a record 60 GATORADE Call-Ups to the NBA this season, generating earnings of more than $11 million, or approximately $225,000 per player.

The NBA G League also pays bonuses to players on NBA G League playoff teams and to those recognized as end-of-season performance award winners. The league awarded more than $225,000 in bonus money this season.

Further, in accordance with the NBA and National Basketball Players Association collective bargaining agreement, NBA players will continue to be able to enter into two-way contracts. NBA two-way players will earn $77,250, prorated for days spent on an NBA G League roster, and the NBA rookie minimum salary, prorated for the days with their NBA team, for maximum potential earnings of $385,000 next season. This season, 83 players across all 30 NBA teams signed two-way contracts.

A record 53 percent of players on 2017-18 NBA end-of-season rosters have spent time in the NBA G League during their careers. Every NBA team had at least six NBA G League veterans on its end-of-season roster and seven had 10 or more such players. A record 101 NBA players were assigned to the NBA G League for development or rehabilitation this season, including 13 players selected in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft.

The 50-game NBA G League regular season – which includes the NBA G League Showcase, the league’s premier in-season scouting event – runs from November to March. All NBA G League players receive in-season housing, travel day per diem, continuing education opportunities, life skills development offerings and health insurance benefits.


Tony Bandle 4 years, 5 months ago

Could this league somehow be structured to play a role in eliminating the OAD rule and let the high schoolers follow their dream?

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

Absolutely not. That would require different organizations coming together to make a real decision that would benefit the potential players instead of protecting their power bases.

This seems to be a legitimate alternative than having every financial dealing you've ever made being investigated or heading off to some foreign country for a year.

$35,000 straight out of high school (35 K seems competitive to Adidas' money) and competing against other NBA talent might be the best option for that individual.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years, 5 months ago

Absolutely, Tony. The options are going to continue to expand, and it will totally revise the OAD mentality and recruiting.

For example, is a Josh Jackson going to go to college for two years, or is he going to enter the NBA draft right out of high school? The answer is probably obvious.

Of course, many viewed Josh as almost NBA-ready right out of high school, and undoubtedly, he would have been drafted (probably with a lottery pick) given his high level skills and potential. However, take a lesser-ranked player who plans to go to college for a year and then play professional ball.

If the rules change, he has to make a decision. Does he have to commit to two years in college or does he take the leap immediately, and if he doesn't get drafted or make an NBA team, he plays in the "minor" leagues?

Furthermore, say he goes to college for one year and then decides he wants to play in Europe or the G league, etc. My guess is that the two year college commitment would go in the trash and the young man would leave to "play for pay." I wouldn't want to be the defendant in a lawsuit who is trying to restrict his freedom of trade.

In short, the potential OAD has to decide if one year or two in college is better for his long-term future than going straight to the pros to compete against the best. I'm afraid that most would opt for the money now.

As for recruiting, how would you like to be the coach who gets a commitment from a 5* player in the Fall of his senior year and then the player changes his mind in the Spring to enter the draft instead? You've held that scholarship for him, and all of a sudden, you have an empty hand.

As long as we have been around, Tony, has anyone ever found a magic solution for anything? Every time the rules are changed, the players and coaches adapt, and a new set of dilemmas appears.

My biggest concern is that some young minds, filled with glamour and hype, are going to make a decision that is not in his best interests long term. However, it is a free country, and with freedom comes the freedom to fail.

Given that most of these young men are minorities, the stakes are pretty high. At least, with guys like Frank and Devonte (who were never in the OAD conversation), they have an education to fall back on plus all of the life experiences they have learned along the way.

Pius Waldman 4 years, 5 months ago

Conditions can and often do change. The recommendations from the NCAA committee should be a factor so April 25 they will become known. Potential earnings from playing college ball might compare to what minor league pro might offer. Just think what Frank and Devonte benefited by getting a college degree. Other than money they earned a reputation that has benefits.

Barry Weiss 4 years, 5 months ago

This was previously called the D League, correct?

Tony Bandle 4 years, 5 months ago

Yep...the Developmental League until Gatorade took over sponsorship, thus "G" League.

Craig Carson 4 years, 5 months ago

people need to understand that the NBA age rule being undone ISNT gonna change kids from leaving after 1 in point, Zhaire Smith from Texas Tech declared AND hired an agent...he had a solid but not overwhelming freshmen season but yet he chose to take the chance of going undrafted..he wasnt a 5* MCAA and he isnt on anyones mock draft boards..from a business perspective it makes no sense that he'd leave when he could return and build himself up into a 1st rd pick, but yet he still did. Its not the age rule, its the culture..everyone just wants to get paid, even if they arent fully prepared for the opportunity. People have fooled themselves into thinking the OAD being undone is gonna fix college BBALL and were gonna start seeing great players staying 3-4 years like the good ole could leave for the NBA after HS before 2004 and it was still RARE to see them not go to college first, that is no longer the case..this is what will happen if the OAD age rule is repealed..80% of the top 25 HS seniors will skip college, the ones that do go to college will still declare after a season...BUT, players ranked 25 and below stand a great chance of leaving after a year if they even have a halfway decent freshmen season (see Zhaire Smith example)

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

Absolutely. I think at best it provides some players a far better choice.

Marius Rowlanski 4 years, 5 months ago

Silvio should also be on that list. 35k in the G-League with NONE of the BS it took to play 3 mo of NCAA basketball is a good deal.

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