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Breaking Down NBA D-League Player Pay And Standard League Contracts

While there are a handful of reasons to hit the NBA D-League hardwood, the salary isn't always one of them. Here's how a standard minor league contract breaks down.

Simon Watts

The NBA D-League may truly be the land of opportunity for aspiring young guns, but it's no way a place for one to make their riches.

As more and more NBA teams form single and exclusive relationships with minor league clubs, "the affiliate rule" is becoming an increasingly popular way for D-League teams to secure and acquire talented players. In an effort to further convince such prospects to remain stateside instead of cashing in on more lucrative deals overseas, NBA teams use the money players can earn through training camp contracts as an incentive before the D-League season begins.

Having said that, how much money do these athletes stand to make while playing minor league ball?

A source confirms to that the salary intervals penciled in at the "A," "B," and "C" tiers from last season will remain the same. Such salaries are listed at $25,000, $19,000, and $13,000, respectively.

Here's further information as to how a standard D-League contract breaks down, according to various RU sources:

- In addition to their base salaries, minor leaguers can earn bonuses pertaining to various accomplishments. The league's Most Valuable Player earns a maximum $3,000 bonus.

- The league's other award winners (such as Most Improved Player, D-League Impact Player, Defensive Player of the Year, the Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award recipient, and varied "All D-League" team selections) earn bonuses ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.

- In addition to respective life and health insurance benefits during the season, housing and in-season accommodations are provided, as well as a $40 per diem for meals while a player is traveling on the road with his team (players are allocated $30 during training camp).

- Players on successful teams can earn smaller bonuses ranging from $500 to $1,000 as their respective teams win a regular season conference championship, as well as win and/or make the D-League Finals.

- Early termination fees for players seeking some sort of opt-out in their contract midseason, in order to play for an international (or otherwise related) team, begin at $40,000.

- The D-League's anti-drug (marijuana and other related substances) policy is very similar to that of the NBA's, except for the fact that a minor leaguer's contract can be terminated following the third offense.

Once prospects begin playing in the D-League, the ultimate goal is obviously to break into the NBA, sooner, rather than level. Still, it nevertheless pays (quite literally, in fact) to buy into a respective squad's concept and become a team-player. Coaches will use the aforementioned bonuses as motivation for the players to put a team's needs above that of an individual's, because it could eventually pay off in the long run.

Interestingly enough, "negotiations" still take place in the D-League. Agents hope to qualify their respective clients as the highest tier player possible, as it relates to the minor league's $173,000 salary cap (this number is from last season, but figures to stand this coming year as well, in accordance with the current CBA. The number actually decreased from the season prior). That said, incoming rookies who have earned their contracts through national or local tryout performances are likely to start at tier "C."