Last season the D-League had a record 49 call-ups involving 37 different players. The total NBA salaries earned by those call-ups was just shy of seven million dollars ($6,812,211 to be exact) which is certainly a raise from their meager paydays in the D-League. While the pay in the NBA's minor league isn't great -- players make $13,000, $19,000 or $25,500 -- the payoff is the call-up and the future opportunity that brings to the table as well.
This season 10-day contracts can be offered starting on January 5, 2015 according to Larry Coon. The 10-day contracts are offered based on a pro rated formula of a minimum NBA contract. The levels this season are based off of tenure and are as follows:
- Rookie - $29,843.29
- 1 Year - $48,028.35
- 2 Years - $53,837.82
- 10+ Years - $85,205.29
These salaries for 10 days of work are quite the step up from a D-League salary, however many times these players are with the team that called them up for only those 10 days and they aren't signed for the remainder of the season. The few that are (only 10 players last season) have no guarantee for a future deal either. A prime example of this is Diante Garrett. He was the first player called-up from the D-League last season and he signed with the Utah Jazz for the whole 2013/14 season, but he's back with the Iowa Energy of the D-League for 2014/15.
So, how many players did obtain future deals after their NBA call-ups?
It's a mixed bag between players who returned to the D-League, earned NBA contracts, earned deals overseas, or remain without any professional team. The earning power is certainly there after digging through this information however and that's an encouraging thing for D-League prospects to keep in mind when considering what direction to take their career.
Nine of the players call-up last season are currently with an NBA team with deals varying from guaranteed, to partially guaranteed and non-guaranteed. The largest deal for a single player (for the single season of 2014/15) was signed by James Johnson who makes $2.5M this year for the Toronto Raptors. Many of the players signed have deals past the 2014/15 season and only Kendall Marshall and Chris Douglas-Roberts have expiring contracts this season. The total salaries for these nine players in 2014/15 is slated to be $9,460,226. In the grand scheme, this might seem like a small amount scroll back up and view those D-League salaries again and that should open your eyes to just how far some of these players have come.
The D-League retained 13 of the players who were called-up last season and right now the biggest name in that pool is undoubtedly Seth Curry, who many believe will get another shot at the NBA level this season as well. It's important to note that while these players did not receive NBA contracts this year many of them were in NBA training camps and thus did earn some NBA wages before the D-League season started.
The international ranks gobbled up another 13 of the 2013/14 call-ups, with the most recent being Manny Harris who recently left the Los Angeles D-Fenders for a deal overseas. The salary figures for international deals are next to impossible to find or obtain so I don't have those numbers for you, but I think it's safe to say they are making a healthy wage for their new clubs.
There are only two players who received call-ups last year that are not with any professional teams at the current time. Melvin Ely and Jarvis Varnado. Ely is 35-years-old and that may be hurting his chances to get any kind of substantial deal overseas or a normal deal from a D-League team who is probably more focused on young talent. Varnado's D-League rights were just traded yesterday to the Los Angeles D-Fenders, but there hasn't been an announcement as to whether he will report and play with the team or not.
This is the quiet before the storm. 10 day contracts are a game changer for D-League, but more top talent playing the percentages.
— Sea Dubs Central (@SeaDubsCentral) December 30, 2014
It's easy to see that getting that NBA call-up almost assuredly helps a player's future earning power as 22 of the 37 players who were called-up last season are playing in the NBA or professionally overseas. Their impact isn't seen immediately at the NBA level as the 2013/14 stats of call-ups would show (10.9 minutes with averages of 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds), however for some players, like Troy Daniels, that opportunity is a priceless opportunity that puts your name on the national stage.
Once a player's name is out there, it's up to them to make it stick around for years to come. So come, January 5th don't just watch for who gets called-up, watch for who sticks around longer than the allotted 10 days they are given to prove themselves.