The NBA will lower its age limit and effectively get rid of the one-and-done rule by the 2022 NBA Draft, but for top prospects looking to get paid immediately, they’re creating a new alternative to college basketball.
The G League has always been there if a player wants to take that route, but the small contracts (often in the $35,000 range) aren’t all that enticing, and as we’ve learned in this latest FBI investigation into college hoops, are sometimes not even what these prospects are getting under the table from sneaker companies and the colleges. So, how can the NBA make the G League a more viable minor league and attract top talent? Well, that’s simple: Money.
Now, that’s exactly what they’re doing. A new program that will launch next year will give G League teams the opportunity to offer “Select Contracts” to top prospects that are 18-years-old and high school graduates. These contracts will be worth $125,000, a significant increase over the standard G League contract, and allow them to also sign with an agent, profit off their likeness, and more.
The G League announced the program officially on Thursday, with a statement from league president Malcolm Turner.
“Select Contracts are an answer to the basketball community’s call for additional development options for elite players before they are eligible for the NBA,” said NBA G League President Malcolm Turner. “The supporting infrastructure surrounding these newly-created Select Contracts is designed to provide a rich offering of basketball and life skills developmental tools for top young players to grow along their professional paths from high school to the pros.”
It will be interesting to see what elite prospects, if any, take this deal, considering the risks of putting yourself up against pro players often significantly older and more mature than you. Still, it’s great to see the G League and the NBA taking this step to offer legitimate alternatives for these elite players to try and earn money until the one-and-done rule gets taken away.
There are questions beyond the level of competition for players, as life in the G League is tough and how on board coaches and other players will be in getting these top prospects consistent playing time is an unknown. Considering other players will be making close to four times less than the Select Contract prospects, it also could lead to some tensions. Even so, it’s a good step towards hopefully making the G League a bigger deal and, as such, it could help bring interest and more money into the league to be distributed to those other players.