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Examining the (Low) Pay of NBA D-League Players

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Though the likes of Andrew Goudelock & Courtney Fortson are two of the D-League's better players, making a living off varied modest salaries can prove to be difficult for these minor league stars if call-ups don't follow their success.


In's recent interview with NBA D-League All-Star Courtney Fortson, the former number one overall rated prospect made it clear he will not be returning to the minors next season.

Of course, the former Rockets and Clippers guard hopes to re-join the NBA ranks come training camp later this fall. But should he not land some sort of guaranteed contract along the way, Fortson, like many NBADL players, realize there are much more lucrative offers to be had overseas.

Though Fortson was one of the league's better talents, player salaries simply tend to be rather low, and are often difficult to make a living off of. The big benefit of playing in the D-League clearly rests with the opportunity to potentially strut your stuff in front of NBA executives and stay close to home on a nightly basis. Doing so may better position players to eventually land big league gigs, but should they not, things may become difficult financially.

Second-year Lakers guard Andrew Goudelock is a perfect example. Though the young gun made $475,000 as a rookie last season in Los Angeles, this season proved to be a tough one. Cut by the Lakers following training camp, Goudelock laced up his sneakers and put on an NBADL jersey because he, like many who follow his game closely, thought it would only be a matter of time. If he stayed in the minors and played well enough, perhaps he'd be able to remind NBA teams what they were missing out on, and earn a call-up shortly after.

For whatever reason, though Goudelock tore up the league all season long, that oh so coveted call didn't come his way for quite a while. It wasn't until Kobe Bryant went down with a severe injury last month that Los Angeles called upon Goudelock once again to fill in during the playoffs. His further contract details at this point are still unclear, but expect the Lakers to yet again hold the cards with regard to training camp and keeping Goudelock in town.

Not much is guaranteed for these young guns, which is why it made sense (regardless of how unfortunate it still may be) that Goudelock said in a recent report that he was forced to borrow money from his girlfriend, a college student, during the regular season. The guard was reportedly earning

just $1,200 every two weeks in the minors.

According to ESPN's Marc Stein, there are three basic levels of D-League player salaries: $25,000, $19,000, and $13,000. Taking the league by storm as he ran away with its M.V.P., award, it's sensible to assume Goudelock was earning the top amount. Still, such isn't much to write home about.

In addition to the modest salary, there are other varied perks. The D-League teams do in fact pay for player housing, provide certain benefits, and grant each of their players a $40 per-diem for food, etc.

Living life going from paycheck to paycheck is not the type of lifestyle not many would think of when considering the life of professional athletes. Nevertheless, it's all part of the D-League grind. The league's players are gunning for other opportunities, but if one in the NBA does't come along accordingly, it's easy to understand why the much more lucrative opportunities overseas become that much more temping and/or desirable.