The National Basketball Association has so much money being thrown around, and the players stand to benefit. Embracing NBA picks and parlays has led to a renewed interest in the sport for some fans who may have left due to the multitude of rules changes and otherwise over time.
But the reality is that interest has never been higher. That is why the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players association has allowed for huge increases in spending and the players’ pockets.
It is not that money is a bad thing. It is crazy to see how the league has grown once it changed rules to promote more scoring and generate more interest since people were getting burnt out on watching defensive battles. It is also why there is a disparity between the college game and the pro level since the skill gap is so great, too.
Players and owners stand to benefit as the revenue continues to grow. That allows general managers to be creative, though within the confines of a salary cap, to improve their teams.
Here are a number of ways that NBA players can earn money throughout their careers.
Part of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement with the players association tries to set a fair amount for wages among different workers. There are different scales, though, and the rules are set in a way that there is flexibility around the different wages a player can earn.
Those entering the league through the draft have a rookie scale based on which pick they are. Second-round picks are not even guaranteed contracts, though teams are increasingly collecting picks in the second round and then offering them guaranteed deals over three or more years.
Then there are different rules once they get to the end of those contracts, which allows teams to extend them or match their contracts through a restricted free agency should they not reach an extension. Some stars will receive a maximum extension, which is an entirely different value than when they become an unrestricted free agent after that deal is up.
Teams are able to retain bird rights on a player, which gives them an opportunity to offer more money with percentage increases than those who would offer him in unrestricted free agency.
It is incredibly lucrative to be one of the best players in the league, though, as nine NBA players are making at least $40 million during the 2022-23 season alone. Of course, that is before taxes, but some will reach $50 million in the near future.
Salaries are only part of the equation, though. Most players will make the bulk of their money through endorsement deals and other business partnerships. Players who target this space are going to be far ahead of their peers in the long run when it comes to setting themselves up for life after basketball.
LeBron James, who recently became the league’s all-time leading scorer, is one of the most popular pulls for advertising. He is often in commercials that feature his younger self (his son playing younger LeBron) or for a specific product. While he may not verbally endorse it, being in the commercial alone is an endorsement.
There are other ways that James has made an impact off the court. Part of his move to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers was to be more in tune with the movie industry, as he has played roles in several films and even has his own production company, SpringHill Company.
Players who get in early enough with different endorsement deals can continue after their careers. Shaquille O’Neal still stars in Gold Bond commercials while also doing work for TNT as an analyst, and he is also DJ Diesel as a side gig, playing concerts across the country.
Sponsorships go hand in hand with endorsement deals but felt like it needed its own section. James has a lifetime contract with Nike for his own shoe line. It has been wildly successful and is a similar model to Michael Jordan’s. But more and more players are also getting shoe deals and other sponsorships to boot.