Kyle Singler caused a stir when he decided to sign with a major European team rather than play in the NBA in the upcoming season.
The NBA is the ultimate dream for a basketball player; most will grab a chance to do so as soon possible.
Being an NBA player brings notoriety plus the average salary in the NBA borders around $5.15 million according to NBA.com.
That in itself is enough motivation to be an NBA player for anyone, but not Singler. He stayed four years at Duke when he could have left as early as his freshman year. Now he is choosing to play abroad.
Top-10 recruits who average double-figure scoring for their college teams (mostly Division I) have a higher chance of being drafted in the first round.
However, while his peers all trickled off to the NBA, Singler stayed in college breaking records, collecting awards and becoming a champion.
Last June, he became a second-round pick of the Detroit Pistons. However, due to the NBA lockout, several players went abroad to play—including Singler.
He signed with Spanish team, Lucentum Alicante and became one of the top rookies, averaging 15 points a game.When the NBA lockout ceased, Singler surprised everyone by opting to replace Rudy Fernandez on one of Europe’s best teams, Real Madrid, instead of trying to make the Pistons' roster.
"They put together a very, very appealing package for him," said Singler’s agent, Greg Lawrence. "When the discussions first started, there was a ton of uncertainty about what was going to happen with the NBA season.
What it really comes down to is Kyle went over there to play because of the lockout and fell in love with Spain. He really enjoyed the team, enjoyed the basketball and enjoyed living there."
This is not like Danny Ferry spurning the lowly L.A Clippers to play overseas. Ferry was the second overall pick in 1989 and was free to make any deal he wanted.
A rookie salary scale only came into effect in 1995 after Glen Robinson forced the Milwaukee Bucks to sign him to a 10-year contract worth $68 million as a second-year player.
The rookie salary scale sets the amount a first-year player can earn in his first two years, then gives the team an option to sign that player up to an additional two years.
The rookie salary scale is competitive for the lottery draft picks (players chosen first through 14th) but late-first-to-second-round selections can get a better deal abroad.
Tiago Splitter was the No. 28 pick by the Spurs in 2007, but he chose to stay in Spain because as a late first-round pick, the maximum Spurs could have paid him was around $771,000 the first season. Splitter eventually signed a contract with San Antonio in 2010 for three years at $10.9 million. The Spurs were free to sign the Argentinean forward for his market value by then.
So that could work in Singler’s favor. Rather than fight for a roster spot for the Pistons, who are expected to be one of the worst teams in the upcoming, albeit shortened, NBA season, Singler can stay abroad and play for a perennial contender.
Then he may be able to sign a more lucrative deal in a year or two that might eventually prolong his NBA career.
One other option is the feel-good factor. Playing in 66 games for the rebuilding Pistons may be a rude adjustment as Singler is not accustomed to losing.