Now in the month of August, the NBA has officially reached the dead of its offseason. What makes such a time so seemingly "dead" is the fact that for the most part, teams have by now filled out the roster (or at the very least, much of the core) they'd like to see play through training camp.
With that in mind, there are fewer and fewer spots at the end of the roster(s) to go around for NBA D-League players. Clearly often those who are on the bubble, such minor league athletes aren't often given guarantees (literally), and training camp invites sometimes simply aren't enough.
While eyeing and hoping for a potentially more hopeful and lucrative contract this upcoming season, many of the NBADL's top talents have inked deals overseas this summer. The likes of Luke Harangody (Russia), Tony Taylor (Poland), and most recently, Stefhon Hannah (Italy) are among those to ultimately choose to play international ball next season.
And they certainly won't be the last of the cream of the crop to do so, either. Speaking to a bevy of players from around the league, it's apparent these athletes want more than the D-League can ultimately give them. Of course, the most green of other pastures would be the NBA, but should a gig in The Association not be in the cards, there are plenty of advantages to going overseas as well.
As previously mentioned here at RidiculousUpside.com, the money one earns in the D-League is not a reason to stay in the minor league. To match even the more moderate international contracts (around say, $90,000-$120,000), sources confirm a player would need to play out the season in the NBADL AND receive a ten day contract in the NBA. Such call-ups are often hard to come by, leaving players to earn only close to a fifth (or even less) of what they could make internationally before it's all said and done.
For a player like Hannah, who is 28 after winning back to back NBA D-League "Defensive Player of the Year" awards, the time may indeed be now to venture over international waters and cash in on his minor league success before it's too late. For younger players, perhaps they have more leeway to spend an extra year in the D-League to work harder, gain more exposure, and see how things work out.
Whether or not they want to, is the question. Such players aren't all too satisfied with the life of a D-League player. In addition to the low pay, the less than glamorous lifestyle--the travel, the amenities, accommodations, etc., can certainly prove to take its toll on a player.
Thus, some players have a "one (year) and done" mentality with regard to playing in the NBA D-League. While still young and without much on their basketball resume, up and coming prospects can benefit from playing in the D-League and/or subsequently logging some time with an NBA team via a Summer League and/or training camp gig. Such interest and/or participation in an NBA team's program makes a player look that much better to international executives. With that in mind, in come the more lucrative offers.
It's up to the NBADL alums to make the choice ultimately, but this summer, it appears as though more of the "veterans" and other promising players are beginning to cash in on their success and go elsewhere.