What Type of Deal Can a Player Expect?
Basic supply and demand is a factor in all salaries. But three factors also need to be considered:
Many international teams start their planning for next season before the current season is even finished. It is not unusual to sign players during the playoffs for the next season. In fact, the best and most desirable basketball jobs are given away before the summer. Most players are not aware of this: international players are focused on the season at hand, and American college seniors are focused on the NBA draft. An agent is essential to help players “strike while the iron is hot” and take advantage of this timing, negotiating the best deal based on the highest market value.
A player must determine how much risk they can tolerate. Aiming too high leaves open the possibility of not getting employed or not living up to high expectations and being let go from a team. The result for these players is taking a lesser paying job. However, some players may feel the increased risk is worth the reward. Assessing a career in professional basketball is much like investing in the stock market. High risk can lead to high reward, but it can also lead to being left with next to nothing.
Long-Term Versus Short-Term Thinking
Returning to our stock market analogy, players (and their agents) who plan long-term are more likely to enjoy a return of investment. Players who think only short-term and plan for spectacular profits may be in for a rude awakening. These players could lose much of their value with the equivalent of a career gamble. Agents are able to provide a long-term perspective amidst the temptation for a player to think only in the short-term. Basketball agents are also able to temper unrealistic expectations. This is a possible source of tension, but good agents push back on their clients because they have their long-term financial and career health in mind.