The NBA stands out as the top tier of pro basketball, boasting the world's best players and biggest salaries. Skilled players that don't make it to the NBA take their talents elsewhere, launching careers in domestic developmental leagues as well as foreign professional leagues. Salaries in pro basketball vary greatly depending on the profile of a player and the team for which he plays. Coaching salaries also vary based on factors like experience and location.
Average NBA Player Salaries
The average salary for all NBA players in the 2010 season was approximately £2.2 million, according to the Huffington Post. Of course, this average is inflated by the monster contracts held by a handful of the league's brightest stars. In addition, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reported that the NBA's minimum salary is slated to increase to £0.8 million for the 2011 season.
Elite NBA Player Salaries
The NBA uses a salary structure that awards higher pay rates to veteran players while limiting the salaries of rookies and emerging players. Forbes ranked Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers as the NBA's highest-paid player in 2010. Bryant hauled in £16.1 million as part of a three-year contract worth £54.3 million. Other Top 10 earners in 2010 included Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Michael Redd and Gilbert Arenas. As for the league's Top 10 rookie draft picks in 2010, their annual guaranteed salaries ranged from £4 million to £10 million, according to the Huffington Post.
NBA Coach Salaries
NBA coaches also enjoy extravagant salaries. In fact, the NBA has some of the highest-paid coaches in all professional sports, according to Forbes. Phil Jackson of the Lakers held the biggest salary in 2009 at £6.7 million. Trailing Jackson were a select few veteran coaches who made in excess of £3 million. The average head coach in the NBA earned around £2 million for the 2009 season, according to Forbes.
Developmental League Player Salaries in the United States
Some players have promising talent but not quite enough of it to get them straight into the NBA. Developmental leagues provide these players on the cusp with an opportunity to hone their skills and make a modest living while waiting in the wings should an NBA scout come calling. Unfortunately for these players, the salary gap between the NBA and professional development leagues is extremely wide. Players in the country's top developmental league average just £7,800 to £15,600 in salary per season, according to a 2007 article by Tom Goldman of NPR.
Pro Player Salaries Abroad
Basketball has emerged as a popular sport around the planet, and many foreign leagues now feature talented players and sizeable budgets. Of course, high-profile players in major foreign leagues make much more than those in lesser-known leagues in poorer countries. European teams generally offer the best pay outside of the NBA, especially in countries like Spain, Russia and Greece. For instance, The New York Times reported that Greek basketball club Olympiacos signed former Atlanta Hawk Josh Childress in 2008 to a £13 million net income deal. Similarly, J.R. Bremer made more than £0.6 million in salary from the Russian club Triumph Lyubersty in 2008 after having left the Charlotte Bobcats of the NBA in 2005.
- Forbes: The Highest-Paid Coaches
- Sports Illustrated: NBA Wants Player Salary Costs to Drop by a Third
- Huffington Post: NBA Draft Picks Come Up Short Compared to NFL Top Rookies
- Washington Post: NBA Free Agency - Salary Cap Exceptions Explained
- Forbes: The NBA's Highest-Paid Players
- The New York Times: Players in Europe Ponder an N.B.A. Pension