For many players at the Las Vegas Summer League, the event is an opportunity to impress teams and perhaps land a roster spot ahead of NBA training camps. But the players also get paid, albeit a fraction of what they could receive in an NBA contract.
According to Jake Fischer of SI.com: "Players receive a total of $1,500 in per diem during the 12-day league. Teams can distribute that cash in one complete payment upon arriving in Sin City. Some choose to provide the funds on a daily $125 or bi-daily $250 basis."
Stretched out over a full year, that payment would equate to a salary of $45,600. The teams also handle other expenses for the participants, however.
There's the matter of flying the players to and from Las Vegas, for instance. Fischer wrote that the Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings "split a $52,000 chartered plane, complete with full catering, for 69 players and staffers to fly from Sacramento's California Classic to Las Vegas."
There's room and board. Fischer noted that "every player is granted his own room, typically priced at $115 per weeknight and $210 on weekend evenings."
It's also "standard practice" for teams to provide players with two meals per day. And then there are other considerations, like uniforms. Fischer estimated that the cost to bring a single player to Las Vegas ran around $6,500 for teams.
Other expenses? There is a $15,000 registration fee each team pays to participate in the event. There are travel considerations in Vegas too. Fischer wrote that "some clubs rent a fleet of SUVs—one ordered nine cars for this week—which can cost roughly $100 each per day." Other teams "spend as much as $800 per day renting a coach bus to shuttle players back and forth from the hotel to practices and games."
Of course, the event is an investment. Teams get the chance to work out their draft picks and put them through their early paces. Second-year players can hone their skills. Scouts in attendance may discover a diamond in the rough they previously missed to help fill out a team's roster. Many journeyman players aren't just fighting for their NBA lives; European scouts attend Summer League as well.
It's become a networking event, especially for coaches or executives looking for work. Some free agents meet with team representatives to negotiate contracts. Executives from other teams can meet to discuss potential trades. Players fly in to support their new, young teammates and enjoy the night life. Without question, the Las Vegas Summer League has become a key date on the NBA calendar.
Even if it isn't the cheapest one for teams.