The NBA G League received plenty of praise when it announced salary increases for the 2018-19 season. Gone are the days of different tier contracts. Every player will receive a salary of $35,000 (or $7,000 per month) over the minor league’s five month season.
There’s one major problem with this welcomed increase: the contracts are not guaranteed.
The G League hopes to attract top level talent with salaries trending up in the right direction. Unfortunately, it’s difficult for players to commit and turn their backs on international opportunities without a safety net in the G League, multiple sources confirm.
“In Europe, you have a guaranteed contract for a year. In the G League, that’s not the case. When Grand Rapids cut me, there were no repercussions or anything,” former Drive and Red Claws center Zeke Marshall told RidiculousUpside.com. “As the salary increases, they’ll attract more people. The fact is they can let you go and there’s no job security. You’re left out to dry.”
While a boatload of G Leaguers are competing in NBA Summer League this week (hoping for a longer shot at the big time), Marshall and fellow minor league alum like Jaleel Roberts and Robert Upshaw spent their time in Las Vegas at a gym next door on the UNLV campus. They instead participated in the Worldwide International showcase, open not only to G League personnel, but scouts from all over the world.
“I want to broaden my horizons. There are a lot of European and NBA coaches here. I’ve primarily been in the Middle East. I want them to see what I can do,” Marshall said. Whereas G League players can pad their overall income by attending training camp with an NBA team before the season begins, that opportunity is not afforded to everyone. For someone like the former Drive center, he says the in-season salary should be closer to $50,000 for players to remain stateside without hesitation. To be fair, the numbers are trending up in that direction for all players and perhaps it won’t be much longer. Going overseas offers more lucrative opportunities, but there are other unknowns. Marshall praised the G League’s culture and said staying close to home brings an increased comfort level.
For Marshall, who has averaged 4.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks through his G League career, competing at the Worldwide Invitational meant demonstrating that he can be a reliable big man down low. He kept up defensive pressure, while displaying good hands around the basket as he cleaned up the offensive glass and cashed in on second chance points. He’s someone who understands his role at the pro level and where he needs to be.
“I’m a defensive anchor who knows how to emphasize my strengths. I shoot more comfortably these days and try to be efficient about it,” he said. Time will tell to see if the hard work pays off. He’s not alone when it comes to finding more desirable opportunities overseas, but for Marshall, the G League’s goals should be clear moving forward.
“If they can bridge that gap and guarantee contracts to the point that you have a safety net, it would be a big deal,” Marshall concluded.