G League Offering 'Professional Path' to NBA for Prospects with $125K Contracts

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistOctober 18, 2018

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The NBA G League is making a significant play that could lead some of the nation's top amateur basketball players to skip college altogether.

Per ESPN.com's Jonathan Givony, the G League will offer a "professional path" deal starting in the summer of 2019 that includes "select contracts" worth up to $125,000 for elite players who are at least 18 years of age but not eligible for the NBA draft.

The professional path system presents an alternative to the NBA's rule that requires players to be 12 months removed from high school graduation to be eligible for the draft.

Since players who sign with the G League won't be limited by NCAA restrictions, they will be eligible to sign with an agent and sign marketing deals with apparel companies.

ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski is skeptical many top college recruits will go for this deal because the G League is "full of early connecting flights, long bus rides [and] small gyms." He added major college basketball "has the trappings of exposure, packed houses, private jets. You'll get paid there too."

Per Givony, many NBA agents believe this deal has the potential to gain significant traction, while some major college programs are "understandably nervous and want to learn more."

Kentucky head coach John Calipari doesn't seem too concerned about this move by the G League:

During the NBA owners meetings in July, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters there was increasing momentum around the league to eliminate the one-and-done rule, which has been in place since 2006:

"It won't come immediately, but … when I weighed the pros and cons—[and] given that [former Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice and her [NCAA] commission has recommended to the NBA that those one-and-done players now come directly into the league and, in essence, the college community is saying, 'We do not want those players anymore,' I mean that sort of tips the scale in my mind that we should be taking a serious look at lowering our age to 18."

Givony noted any change to the rule likely won't come until 2022 at the earliest.

Another potential issue for the G League is the working relationship between the NBA and NCAA.

ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst reported Tuesday that the NBA, NCAA and National Basketball Players Association have reached an agreement with USA Basketball that will allow a total of 80 players to receive health and wellness training from professional teams.

The current G League salary structure includes a base salary of $7,000 per month with additional money earned through affiliate bonus programs and potential NBA call-ups.

     

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