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Choosing between NBA, D-League and International options not so easy, agent says

Basketball agent Daniel Curtin of Three Eye Sports spoke with and discussed what it takes to help his clients make the best decisions and weigh the pros & cons between playing in the NBA, D-League, and international leagues.

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Most (if not all) pro basketball players dream of someday making it to the NBA. That said, every journey is different. There are many different paths en route to the NBA, and there are even more factors in evaluating what makes a successful career.

From players who have graced the NBA hardwood (like Mickael Pietrus, James White, Mickael Gelabale, and Courtney Fortson), to intriguing up and coming young guns (like Gani Lawal and Mike Singletary), and not to mention a slew of international all-stars (a notable one being Chuck Eidson), Three Eye Sports represents an array of players with different backgrounds and basketball upbringings.

Representing players from the NBA, D-League, and international competition, the agency continues to assist its varied client list in making the best decisions throughout their respective careers. As their athletes chase the dream of playing in The Association, Three Eye Sports is there to help them all figure out the most efficient way to get there. In the meantime, the agency also helps such players assess which opportunity (D-League, international, etc) may be best to take advantage of in the meantime.

This also means continuing to play ball around the clock, but it's clear the agent and his clients recognize more pros than cons.

For example, Lawal recently came to an agreement with the 76ers on a partially guaranteed contract for the upcoming season. Whereas some young guns may have been lured overseas permanently to earn guaranteed money instead a previous opportunity perhaps granted the big man the opportunity and flexibility to take a chance with Philadelphia.

"Gani made good money in Italy this past year, and then went on to make six-figures in what ended up being a week in China this offseason, so it's a no-brainer for him," his agent Daniel Curtin said while speaking with

Many of Curtin's clients cashed in on lucrative opportunities filled with more money and rich experience this offseason following a successful year in the D-League. Of course, this also means continuing to play ball around the clock, but it's clear the agent and his clients recognize more pros than cons.

"There were plenty of guys who played in the D-League last season without receiving a call-up," Curtin said. "As you know, if a player doesn't receive a call-up, they're really making next to no money in the D-League."

Taking that into consideration, both Fortson and Singletary were prime examples of Three Eye Sports clients who reaped the benefits of additional opportunities.

"Courtney and Mike were two guys who were really able to use the 'offseason' as an opportunity to make some extra money, and then still be in the mix this fall to play elsewhere," he said. In Venezuela, Fortson was the leading scoring in his respective league, and Singletary embraced a role with more responsibility in the Philippines.

"Both guys were able to make more than their D-League salary in a month," Curtin added. "They played at a high level and really set themselves up. In that kind of scenario, it's a financial decision. Everyone values having an offseason, but guys who come from the D-League simply want to make some more money. It's their decision. A lot of guys will ask us what we can get them in the spring or summer months."

As he explores the best opportunities for his clients, Curtin pointed to the decline of the European market as a door opener for alternative markets to attract high level talent instead. He said, "With the decline of the European market and current economic situation there, the alternative markets--- Asia, South America, etc.-- become more viable options. The basketball may not be as highly regarded there, but the money is often times is much, much better."

Curtin asserted that the motivation such players have keep balling it up overseas is simple. He added, "These guys are professional. Often times, how a guy's career is judged comes down to how much money they make. As harsh as it is to say, this is about making as much money as you can in a short period of time. My job is one that I can continue to do until I grow old and can't work. On the other hand, if you're a professional basketball player and you play until you're 35, you're in the ninetieth percentile."

Despite the decline of the European market, players who have previously established themselves as stars in the area have the luxury of returning and experiencing similar success. (Former) Knicks swingman and 2013 NBA Sprite Slam Dunk Contest participant James White is one of those very guys.

"James is a guy who is lucky he's put in the work in Europe. He's built up his resume and reputation as far as that area is concerned," Curtin pointed out. "He can play at a very high level there and be compensated really, really well. He's a big star. He signed with his team in Italy this summer, and ticket sales went through the roof. A big sponsor came aboard as well. There was tremendous buzz there. I know he enjoys that side of things, just as I'm sure he enjoyed playing in New York for the Knicks. He would have liked a bigger role there."

In the case of White (a D-League alumni himself) and some of Three Eye Sports' other clients who are continuously on the grind, it sometimes simply makes more sense to follow the money and find success overseas. But even that, however, doesn't always prove to be such an easy task. The competition is tough and the standards for talent are arguably even higher.

Curtin conveyed such a notion by saying, "It's very different in every possible regard. You see a different evaluation process from people in Europe. There's a big emphasis on experience and being a proven commodity. You see players who are big NCAA or even NBA players go overseas and they fail. A lot of decision-makers over there are wary of American players who haven't previously proven themselves there."

[The key is] finding a good situation for these players," the agent concluded. "If a player isn't in a good situation come year one, a lot of times, he'll stumble. That really hurts his earning potential, because Europe is where the best international basketball is played. The market has suffered financially, and what you're seeing is less money going to guys in their first year."

If that's truly the case, perhaps a player's ability to find success both overseas and in the D-League go hand in hand and are dependable upon each other. Luckily, Curtin and co. at Three Eye Sports seem to understand that quite well. Thus, their clients are ensured of opening themselves up to the best possible opportunities, regardless of where that may turn out to be.