Overseas Basketball page 2

5 keys About Overseas basketball

What can I expect to earn overseas

Navigating your first basketball contract overseas can feel like stepping into the unknown, especially for US-born players. Many come in with misconceptions, expecting NBA-level salaries or assuming they'll match the earnings of local stars. It's a classic rookie mistake: comparing yourself to others. But just because someone else earns a certain amount doesn't mean you'll earn the same, no matter how much better you think you are than them.

Overseas pay isn't a one-size-fits-all deal. It's dependant on various factors: your prior experience abroad, the connections your agents have, your college, NBA, or G-Leauge resume. For your typical player—solid but not considered a superstar—first-year contracts usually range from $1000 to $3000 per month. Sounds modest, right? Well, consider that most contracts span 10 months, so those figures quickly add up.

Sure, it might not seem like much compared to what you could make back in the states. But here's the thing about overseas basketball: it's all about climbing the ladder. You start at the bottom and work your way up. A bit different to what most people are used to because the NBA is more concerned with investing in your potential for the future. Whereas Europe is more about what can you deliver right now. That's why oftentimes contracts tend to be shorter,  just a year or two.

The reality check hits hard for many players when they realize they're making less overseas than they would flipping burgers back home, no disrespect to anyone flipping burgers. It's a mental game as much as it is physical. Some guys have all the talent but crumble under the pressure of playing far from home for less cash than they'd hoped. It's tough no doubt, but for those who can tough it out, the rewards can be worth it.

Tips and Perks

Previously we touched on the modest base salaries offered overseas, but let's explore how clubs offset this with additional perks and benefits.

  1. Meal Compensation: Across Europe, it's common for teams to provide one or two complimentary meals daily for players. These meals are often courtesy of team sponsors, including restaurants. Imagine the savings when you consider the cost of dining out regularly, potentially amounting to thousands of dollars saved annually.

  2. Tax Advantages: While France introduced income taxes for players in 2020, most other countries don't tax foreign players' earnings. This means that if you sign for 50k, you'll receive the full 50k, unlike in the US, where high tax rates can significantly reduce your take-home pay.

  3. Affordable Living Costs: Living expenses in the US can be exorbitant, but in Europe, it's a different story. Let's use the G-League as an example. In Poland, where the exchange rate is favorable, your grocery bill could be a fraction of what it would be in the US. For instance, spending $100 USD at a Polish grocery store is equivalent to spending $400 USD in the US. Similarly, in Spain, you could enjoy a full dinner for less than $20 USD. When you factor in other expenses like gas and clothing, the savings become even more apparent. This makes a significant difference in your overall quality of life while playing overseas.

European Leagues

First of all let me start by saying Europe is not the only place to play basketball overseas, it might be considered by some as the best place to play overseas, but best is only relative to what your goals are. Some people have families to feed, or are looking for quick money and don't care so much about living in Europe, and they may decide South America or Mexico may be the best place for them. It is all relative, and although at the highest level Europe pays the most money, there is plenty of money in Mexico and South America. 

Each major country has multiple leagues, some up to 5 different leagues. Obviously everybody’s goal is to play in the top division in the top league but not everybody can do that. That doesn’t mean you can’t make a ton of money playing. Some of the second division teams in the top countries pay more than the first division teams in the second tier countries.

There is a few things you should consider when choosing where you want to play. 

  • How is the quality of life there

  • How is the competition.

  • How is the money

I know some guys in second divisions that turn down offers from good first division teams each year simply because the quality of life where they are at meets their standard and they are content. Also something to consider is, once you move to another team, you have to start all over again. New coach, new teammates, new city, new front office, new fans.. .the list goes on. You never know what you are getting yourself into, and as the old saying goes, the grass is greener where you grow it, not on the other side. 

Europe is the favorite for most people because Europe is one of the most if not the most toured continents in the world. I have lived in some of the most revered places in the world such as Milan, Paris and Madrid, some people can only dream of living in those cities. When it comes to money and competition these 5 countries are at the top of the list.

  • Spain

  • Germany

  • Turkey

  • France

  • Italy

Finding an Agent

Do you need an agent to get overseas, if so how do you get in touch with an agent? In the recent years FIBA ( the governing body of European and African basketball) has made it mandatory to have an agent in the country in which you are playing. There are agents everywhere, from small to big time agents. Agents typically get 10% of whatever you are making, but the good part about that is, that 10% is paid by the club, and doesn’t come directly out of your paycheck. As I stated you must have an agent in the country where you are playing, so say you want to play in France but you have an American agent, your American agent must have a local partner in France in order for you to play in France. Some agencies are hesitant about partnering with other agents because that means instead of getting 10% now they are getting 5% because they have to split the fee with another agent. In my experience I have found that it is better to have an American agent as well as a European agent, let me explain why. 

Finding an agent is really about who you know. The best college players, the guys who have great numbers, the guys who played in the power conferences at the big schools, never have issues finding agents, agents find them. It’s the other guys who often times have issues finding agents. If you’re the typical basketball player you may not have dozens of agents knocking on your door to sign you and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean you're not going to play pro. If you’re not contacted by an agent the best ways to get in touch with one are through players you know who have agents or basketball camps and tryouts. There are many camps you can go to which are filled with coaches and agents or even sending emails to agencies. 

European or American Agent Continued…

In Europe both coaches and players have agents. The problem with this is, say you have an issue with money, your team hasn’t paid you in a few weeks, and in your contract it states if your payment is 10 days late you can sit out or even receive a release from the team. These clauses are somewhat normal in contracts,  but your agent is also the agent of the coach. Your agents job is to have your best interest in mind at all times, but because he represents both of you there is a conflict of interest. This club has been working with this European agent for many years, the agent brings the club great players and they have a good relationship. You come along and have to fight for your money, and now you want the team to honor the contract, it is your agents job to make sure the team honors the contract by any means necessary. Sometimes this means even taking the team to court to receive your money. The agent doesn’t want to go to court because then he is putting his long time relationship with this club at jeopardy for one player. So he drags and drags his feet hoping you will give in and just forget about your money, often resulting in you not receiving your money. This is a common situation in Europe, but if you have an American agent, first of all, if you don’t get paid he doesn’t get paid, so that in itself is enough motivation for him to make sure you get your money. Also, he doesn’t have this long lasting relationship with the club. Maybe he has a good relationship with the agent but like I said there are many agents out there, he is more likely to fight for your money, American against European, then a European is to fight against another European. This is why I prefer to have both an American agent and a European agent.