Building A Basketball Career

The world of professional basketball is a buyers’ market

When building a basketball career, keep in mind that there are many times more players available than there are basketball jobs. Often players do not have the luxury of being able to choose from different job offers. American college seniors are particularly vulnerable because they are at the bottom of a team’s priority list since they have no international experience. Unfortunately, almost half of all American college seniors get cut in their first professional season overseas.

Timing is another critical issue for American college seniors. Their market value fluctuates significantly. It is at its highest right after the NCAA Final Four, and it remains relatively high until the NBA draft. Immediately after the draft, their market value will decrease rapidly.

Veterans must maintain an ambitious yet realistic perspective.

In the real world, an annual salary increase of 5% is considered very good. And yet, many veteran professional basketball players often hope for a 50% increase or more every year. This is simply unrealistic. Veterans have to build their basketball careers one step at a time and move up one level at a time. Players who try to move up several levels at once may overplay their hand, ending in disappointment and unemployment. And periods of such inactivity are dangerous to long-term career health.

There are no standard contracts in international basketball.

Anything is negotiable, and every country has its own laws. A “guaranteed” contract may give players peace of mind, but some teams may choose not to honor such a contract. What is a player’s options in that case? Here again, is where the basketball agent plays a crucial role. Based on the agent’s relationship with the team, an agent may be able to negotiate a fair settlement when a team wishes to void a contract. This usually means that the team will give the player one or two months of extra salary and allow him to sign with another team. In fact, a player could end up with a higher salary than he initially had with the team that fired him! Outside of a settlement, the other option is FIBA arbitration, which is cheaper and quicker than a regular court case. Court Side has overseen numerous successful arbitrations as well.

Players must balance multiple factors, not just salary.

When choosing the right offer, a player needs to consider many things:

  • The track record of the team, on and off the court
  • The strength of the league
  • Whether or not the team participates in any international cup competitions
  • What the player’s role on the team will be
  • What level of exposure the player can expect with their team
  • The chances of advancing with the team, i.e., the potential for career growth

Only an expert can fully answer these questions. This is why it is so crucial to have an agency like Court Side with the manpower and international network necessary to understand the overall picture. The best deals are not always the ones with the highest offers. Deals must be evaluated according to a number of complicated factors.