How Much Do NBA Summer League Players Make?

After the NBA Drafts, teams would try to increase their odds of winning in the regular season by trying out their draft picks in the NBA Summer League. They would also include undrafted players, NBA free agents, two-way players, and even rookies and sophomores with already-guaranteed NBA contracts.

But the important question is, how much do the players without a standard NBA contract make in the Summer League?

According to league sources, NBA Summer League Players are given $1,500 per day for the 12-day event. Teams can choose to provide the players’ allowances on a one-complete payment, daily, or bi-daily basis. Teams, however, also pay for the players’ game-related expenses like transportation, hotel and accommodation, registration and uniforms.

What is the Average Salary of NBA Summer League Players?

The NBA Summer League is an excellent venue for players to show their skills and try to get a spot in any NBA Team’s training camp. Unfortunately, since these off-season events are more of a showcase for the participants, the players are not paid a salary.

They receive a per diem of around $1,500, which the teams give on a single payment, daily, or bi-daily basis.

The NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement has also been specific about how much players can be paid during the summer league, which states that the participants will be provided with a ‘reasonable’ expense allowance for meals, lodging, and transportation.

However, players with existing NBA contracts, like the two-way players, drafted rookies, and incoming sophomores, don’t worry about the summer league pay since they already have guaranteed salaries.

What are the Other Non-Monetary Benefits can Summer League Players Get?

D'Angelo Russell 2015 Summer League
D’Angelo Russell 2015 Summer League by Ed

Though the summer league players don’t have any guarantees from the teams they play on, still, they represent existing NBA Teams. Here are some of the non-monetary expenses provided by the teams they play in.

1. Opportunity to be discovered by basketball scouts and coaches

The NBA Summer League, especially in Las Vegas, is crucial to every basketball player trying their luck to enter the league. While all players want to get into the NBA, other leagues, including those in Europe, send scouts to find potential players they can bring overseas.

So, even if summer league players never step foot into the NBA, they can still get an opportunity of playing high-level basketball, hopefully with a good contract, abroad.

2. Air Travel

Since summer league players will be playing in various locations in the US, like Utah, San Francisco, and Las Vegas, teams from several states will need to fly their players to the game locations, particularly in the Western US.

3. Hotel and Room Accommodation

Aside from their air travel going to and from western cities, participants in the summer league are also provided with their rooms, which can cost more than $100 per night.

4. Transportation from hotel to game venues

Teams sometimes rent shuttle buses to transfer players from the hotel to the practice facilities and game venues. These transport vehicles cost hundreds of dollars per day.

5. Food

It is also a common practice for teams to provide two meals per day to their players, which can be a significant saving for players.

6. Uniforms

Another representation expense for teams is the uniform costs for all its players. So even if players don’t get to play in the NBA, at least they can keep their gears as souvenirs.

7. Team Registration

Team registration fees to participate in the NBA Summer League cost around $15,000.

So, while it may seem that the $1,500 per diem is very low for these players, it is important to highlight that they are still just trying to get into the team. Once they showcase their skills and potential to NBA scouts and coaches, leading to basketball contracts, the per diem allowance they took during the two-week gig will look like spare change.

What is the NBA Summer League?

NBA summer league

The NBA Summer League is an annual off-season event held in Las Vegas. It also features events in California and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The summer league roster will feature a different set of players than those appearing during the regular season. Teams are commonly composed of rookies, sophomores, and G League players.

Summer League Teams play five games with the two teams with the best record in their first four games will play in the Summer League championship. In case of a tie, the teams will be decided in the following order: head-to-head matchup and point differentials. A coin flip will determine the top seeds if it’s still a tie.

Since the beginning of the Las Vegas NBA Summer Leagues in 2004, it has featured some current and past all-stars like Blake Griffin, John Wall, and Damian Lillard.

Why do Players Play in the NBA Summer League?

Players play in the NBA Summer League due to various reasons, but primarily for opportunities like the following:

Player Development

The NBA Summer League is an excellent place for rookies and sophomores to develop their game before proceeding in the training camp. It is also where some rookies shake off their nerves before they step into the NBA court.

Opportunity to play in the NBA

Undrafted players invited to the summer league can use that opportunity to show that they belong in the NBA. Players like Jeremy Lin and Gary Neal were previously standouts in the 5-game competition where they were discovered.

Opportunity to play overseas

Not everyone in the summer league will get a call from NBA teams. Still, the game they played can be enough for overseas teams, like in the EuroLeague, to tap their service.

NBA Redemption

The Summer League is also a place to see former NBA Players abroad and Draft “busts” try to redeem their way back to the NBA.

In 2012, former No. 3 Pick and Gonzaga Bulldogs Legend Adam Morrison tried to crawl his way back into an NBA roster through Las Vegas. While it didn’t go as planned, the opportunity is more than enough.

Final Thoughts

The NBA Summer League may not pay an NBA-Level contract, but it provides the much-needed opportunity for NBA hopefuls to showcase themselves to scouts, coaches, and team owners and try to get a chance to play in the NBA or even overseas.

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