NBA teams aren't able to sign players to ten-day contracts until mid-January, but there's no doubt such an opportunity is on the minds of D-League players everywhere right now.
Of course, the goal of the most promising minor leaguers is to make it to the NBA as soon as possible, and to stay there for as long as they can. But there's no doubt that an NBA team's ability to offer a ten-day contract (or two) increases the likelihood a player breaks in to The Association tremendously.
Some veteran players and/or D-League alumni alike will return to the minor league following an overseas stint shortly after the new year begins. This is right in time for the NBA D-League Showcase, where big league executives have an opportunity to evaluate all players at the same time in the same spot, just in time for such ten-day contracts to be signed. That said, opportunities for playing time on the minor league level can be few and far in between, if a team is loyal and/or already comfortable with a set rotation.
Thus, perhaps the players that start the season (or arrive very shortly after) with teams have a greater opportunity for a call-up, regardless of how short it may turn out to be. Young players sometimes play in the D-League for a year or two, so that they can build up their basketball resume to cash in on an overseas deal the following season.
In hoping for a ten-day contract, arriving early to the D-League can work out in similar fashion. If a player has put together an impressive two or three month stint by the time ten-day contracts come around, they're likely to be in a pretty good spot.
As mentioned, the goal is to make it to the NBA by any means necessary and to stay as long as possible, But there are only so many spots to be had, and shortly after training camp, these spots are mostly all taken up. But by the time January rolls around, teams may be in need of injury replacements, and/or may have already gotten tired of other players they've been experimenting with up until that point. Spots open up because the teams have added flexibility. It may be time for new blood.
There's absolutely a certain risk that comes along with sticking around the D-League in hopes that such an opportunity will eventually come a minor leaguer's way. But along with that, also comes a potentially high reward. Professional athletes aspire to be millionaires, but sometimes that isn't always the reality of things.
Nevertheless, should a player be able to secure a ten-day contract shortly after the new year, the money adds up. Combine the earning that comes with such a pact with a player's D-League contract and/or the money earned during NBA training camp (or for argument's sake, a second ten-day contract), and a player can easily net a triple-figure salary over the course of a basketball season, all while not being forced to head overseas.
It may not be as glamorous or convenient of a life as an "everyday" NBA player, but it still provides a player with the chance to make a very respectable living. A reasonable training camp contract is approximately worth $50,000 (some are less, others are more) and a ten-day contract tops out at about $40,000. D-League players earn between $13,000 and $26,000 for the season.
There's a risk involved and there's a waiting game to be played, but if all goes well, the money can add up rather respectably, if not prestigiously.