There are many benefits to playing professional basketball overseas from receiving a large salary, experiencing different cultures, and helping grow the sport. I have been fortunate enough to spend the past 3 seasons in Europe as a player and coach. My first season was with BC Spartak St. Petersburg (Russia) where we won the Euro Challenge Cup Championship, my second season was with BC Barsy Atyrau (Kazakhstan) where we finished as runner-ups in the Kazakhstan Basketball Championship and GKK Sibenk (Slovenia) where we were Slovenian Basketball League Champions.
We played against a lot of very good teams from all over Europe which made those 3 years great experiences. I am currently the Head Basketball Coach at Simon Fraser University (Canada) which is my primary focus, however, I still want to share with you some of the things that you should also be looking for when deciding to play professional basketball overseas.
What kind of contract can you expect to sign?
Most agents will request a minimum of 3 contracts to increase their chances of finding you the best opportunities. It is important that you find an agent that matches your needs and understands where your priorities are. Most agents will ask for between 5% – 7% commission of whatever contract you sign, plus any bonuses which are usually paid on a per game basis. Many teams do not have large budgets so it is important to find one that will allow you to explore as many options as possible. A lot of teams are willing to negotiate their initial offer, however they are less likely to do so once they have found out what other competing offers are.
What kind of contract are you looking for?
There are several different types of contracts depending on your financial needs and the level of play that you are looking for. The most common types of contracts are: one year renewable contact, two year guaranteed contract, or a non-guaranteed contract.
A one year renewable contact is exactly as it sounds – once your contract expires the team has the option to renew your contract for another year. A team may still choose not to offer you another contract even if they have the option.
A two year guaranteed contact is pretty straight forward, it is a 2-year contract that is 100% guaranteed. This kind of security is very beneficial in allowing you to focus on basketball and building your connections with the team and city, however with that comes increased expectations.
A non-guaranteed contract is where the team only guarantees part of your salary for the season. The rest of your pay can be cut off at any time during the season if you are not performing up to the teams expectations. This type of contract provides very little comfort in knowing that you have a job throughout your stay in Europe .
One year renewable contract -$25,000 – 30,000 Two year guaranteed contract – $40,000- 50,000 Non-guaranteed contract-$30, 000 – 40, 000
What are the different leagues you can play in?
There are countless options for playing professional basketball overseas. Each country has their own national league which is the most competitive league in that country. There are 2nd division leagues, semi-pro leagues and lower leagues which are less challenging but still provide good competition.
What level of play will you be competing at?
There are many factors that determine the level of play in each league such as player salaries, budget constraints by teams , and the overall talent level. Some teams are able to focus more on developing their homegrown players whereas others rely on importing players from other countries to help carry them to victory.