NBA Summer League is steadily approaching, as it's now less than a month away.
Such a session provides aspiring NBA players and related young guns with an opportunity to strut their stuff and get noticed by big league executives. But alas, though there may be a glimmering beautiful light at the end of the tunnel, Summer League is still a big part of the grind most prospects embark on in order to break into The Association.
With that in mind, most players participate in Summer League for free, with only a per diem to speak of along the way. This concept would normally be a rather farfetched one, if the annual salary for D-League players wasn't so low to begin with.
Like most minor league prospects, many D-League coaches participate in Summer League as a way of gaining more exposure as well. Whether it be finding work through the week with a given NBA affiliate, scouting for talent, or simply having related conversations with the personnel present around potential job opportunities, there are plenty of ways for NBADL coaches to stay busy.
In many ways, such coaches are often on a similar grind as most of the players who go through the motions as they look to cash in on the next opportunity at hand.
So with that said, how much money do D-League coaches make over the course of the season?
Earlier this week, Spurs' championship winning head coach Gregg Popovich's coaching tree grew just a tad bit larger. Steve Hetzel, who got his start as an assistant video coordinator with San Antonio in 2005-06, was recently hired as an assistant coach for Steve Clifford with the Charlotte Hornets.
Of course, Hetzel spent this past season leading the way as head coach of the Canton Charge. Under his tutelage, Canton logged a 28-22 record on the year and reached the D-League playoffs.
Between his time with the Spurs and his arrival in Canton, Coach Hetzel happened to pile up plenty of experience on the NBA level. Prior to joining the Charge, he had spent four years as a player development coach with the Detroit Pistons, and served as video coordinator the Cleveland Cavaliers for three years before that.
Certainly, there's something to be said about rising up to the challenge as a head coach in professional basketball, as it relates to bolstering one's resume. It undoubtedly worked in Coach Hetzel's favor.
Still, one has to wonder how much money there is in D-League coaching. Despite having more notoriety on the minor league level as a head coach, it'd be sensible to think a staffer could make more money as a video coordinator or even in player development on the big league level.
Assuming as much, one would probably be right. A source tells RidiculousUpside.com that no current head coach in the D-League's salary hits six figures. That said, another source suggests that Coach Hetzel was the minor league's highest paid coach this past season. What's more, his contract featured a commitment of an unprecedented three years. Most D-League coaches' contracts span just one season, due to flexibility purposes for both sides. That said, like Hetzel's, most contracts would be expected to have some sort of leniency towards an NBA clause anyway.
Taking part in D-League competition has never been about the money. Players want to exposure, experience, and develop, all the while remaining as close to home as possible. These are the evident benefits, and they undoubtedly apply to coaches as well.
Playing (or coaching, in this case) in the D-League is simply par for the course. It's a seemingly rather smart move, too. The financial sacrifice one chooses to make for a sole year or two could go on to benefit them immensely in the near future, so that's undoubtedly what most people around the minor league appear to keep in mind along the way.