Years ago

Tommy Greer drops the inside word on NBL salaries

From recently retired Melbourne Tigers captain Tommy Greer:
"..development players around the league would be lucky if they were slipped some petrol money and rookies can make as little as 35-40k a year...Most salaries (and I'm guessing here) would fall in the 70-110k range with a few exceptions breaking the 110-150 bracket.."

Topic #34598 | Report this topic

Years ago

There have been salaries in recent years topping $200k and I'd guess 1-2 within the last 5-6 years breaking $300k (but withheld from the NBL). The Crocs had someone $200k+ at one point.

Going back to the Taipans before their collapse, they were believed to have been spending $200-250k each on three players.

I think there'd be more $110k+ than he thinks. I wouldn't call that the exception even if $70-110k is the most common bracket.

Wow, that's stunning to me! After say a 6 year career, that means total earnings of maybe 300-400k after tax
Compare that to the (negative) earnings of many NBL teams... I think they're doing pretty well for charity workers!

Also ignores potential to get paid a few months each year in the NZ NBL or one of the ABL-level leagues.

It's certainly not AFL money, but there are still many positives.

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Years ago

The salary cap is $1,000,000 for 10 players. Of course the salaries are around what he has stated, maths dictates it.

Reply #477410 | Report this post

Years ago

Correct, the biggest grouping would be on $70-$110K but the number above that would prob make up around a quarter of the league.

Reply #477413 | Report this post

Years ago

It's also pay for around 6 months work. Pro rated out it is actually decent with some players on par with minimum NBA wage per game.

Reply #477417 | Report this post

Years ago

Nothing particularly "inside" about it... Simple maths and looking at the talent available would give the same answers really... Once again Tommy talking things up to make himself seem more important than he actually is...

Reply #477421 | Report this post

Years ago

Something you know quite a bit about Wookiee....

Reply #477423 | Report this post

Big Ads of Perth  
Years ago

I would have thought more 8-9 months of work YOLO but nevertheless your message paints a pretty good picture for what is possible for players between say 1-7 in an NBL teams rotation.

Geez Wookiee that wasn't a "Wookiee" type post, pretty blunt response there mate, it's not like Tommy claimed Kings fans were the dumbest in the country. Did he dunk on you once during a game? Everything ok?


Reply #477427 | Report this post

Years ago

Lol... sorry Big Ads, I don't have a lot of time for TG really, after all that hullabulloo about points cap, etc... despite him not being tarnished by those Tigers stripes any more... Although, funny story, when I was lucky enough to have a media pass for a season, during a Tigers Kings home game I did momentarily forget that the players could hear me from the sideline and while it wasn't anywhere near an abusive comment, I was calling for a bit of order and calming down of the rough play and Tommy DID give me a dirty look... Needless to say I pulled my head in after that for the rest of the season, most embarrassing on my behalf...

Got to appreciate the Anon love... It's just positive feedback that I'm being noticed really, very affirming, thanks :)

Reply #477430 | Report this post

Years ago

Hard to really put a number on the number of months worked as many coaches will expect players (especially locals) to be available at pre-season a fair bit before the season begins. Not a superstrict requirement, but advisable if you're wanting to impress the coach and improve your standing. Most imports will be able to dictate terms there but it wouldn't fly for a guy like Creek or Cadee or even many starters. Certainly not a 12 month gig playing NBL though.

Heavy pre-season might rule out full NZ NBL if you're with an Australian team, but you could generally play SEABL or whatever nearby and supplement your income. Or just sign with the NZ team and throw your hands up when the coach asks later. "Sorry coach, I want to be working on my game year round." Mid-high level players often sit out the off-season to avoid overloading physically but those guys will be $100k+ anyway.

Many players are also able to study in and out of season by correspondence (e.g., Holmes studying law). And the time/workload can often mean it suits a side business like personal training, or similar, especially when the meet and greets can help drum up client leads (see Creek and Maher).

Another positive is that players *can* play NBL without tertiary study and the resulting debt. The downside is that they'll inevitably need a career change in their 30s, often where some level of study will help meaning they will invariably need to be studying at some point while playing or be shrewd with investments which isn't an opportunity likely to be realistic for everyone. Look at the countless NBA players who've gone bust even; guess that shows even a giant minimum wage or huge contracts can't protect those not thinking ahead.

At the lower levels (say, someone trying to crack a roster), I imagine it's a significant risk putting another longer term career on hold while playing for peanuts trying for a contract. But I'd say it happens organically: "I'm good at basketball" vs "I have no idea what else I could do for a living."

I'd guess it's almost a dangerous carrot in front of a donkey and I don't know how comfortable I'd be with my kid being in the position of a Doyle-level player on the fringe while their age group are potentially finishing a software degree and 1-2 years into a workforce that's futureproof on the scale of their lifetime. I'd certainly be encouraging them to have a back-up plan or two (personal training, manage an online business, have a teaching degree ready to go, transition out from NBL to marketing somewhere). I know of at least one ex-NBL player (whose name all would recognise) who, if they had their time over, would've been doing any and all study along the way (TAFE courses, etc) while playing to prepare for life after basketball.

Reply #477435 | Report this post

Years ago

I would guess that on many teams around 3 players would be on $110k or more.

My guess of the salary structure used in a $1,000,000 cap is something like

1. $170k
2. 150k
3. 150k
4. 110k
5. 100k
6. 90k
7. 80k
8. 70k
9. 40k
10. 40k

(obviously some clubs would structure it differently, is player 1 could be on 200k and player 5,7,8 could be on 10k less each, etc)

So if you are within the 8 man rotation you are likely to be earning a very good middle class Australian wage ie above $70k for playing basketball and not even a 12 month commitment, so not a whole lot to complain about imo, many (myself included) would be happy to trade places with them if they think they are being harshly done by.

Cant compare to AFL wages as the NBL doesnt have the AFLs crowds and TV deal to draw money from to pay the players, a top Aussie player if good enough can go overseas and earn AFL money, but the NBL will never be big enough to compete, so players just have to realise that.

Reply #477438 | Report this post

Tiger Watcher  
Years ago

I think the sport loses allot of fringe talent whom might develop later or come back from college at 24 and don't walk straight into a solid contract due to the poor salaries for Dev & 9/10 players.

You can't live on 30k-40k without alot of outside help..i.e parents, second job etc. even if you play state league and pick up an extra $10k your still doing it tough.

The hardest sell is guys with good career prospects first & second year out of unis are earning more than the Avg NBL wage. In reality if your in a good profession you’ll be earning more than the majority NBL players with prospect to be earning more than the top liner NBL players in your early 30’s while guys finishing NBL careers are hunting around for jobs/experience with little career advantage gained from playing in the NBL.

Reply #477454 | Report this post

Years ago

Very true Tiger Watcher.

You can see why guys like Shane McDonald, go and get outside careers and seem to lose interest in picking up NBL contracts even though he would likely be a very handy NBL player.

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Years ago

Tiger, those other workers tend to be working for companies making a profit. I guess that's the difference right now. At least with the next few years, if these incoming teams work out, there'll be more money in the pot for all players. Mid-range players could start on an expansion team while fringe players get rotation spots.

I think the sport loses allot of fringe talent whom might develop later or come back from college at 24 and don't walk straight into a solid contract due to the poor salaries for Dev & 9/10 players.
I've heard the argument, and tend to agree, that 9-10 and down should realistically consider it a part-time gig. The drawcards are the top-end players and spending more on them would help in getting media attention and more fans. Further, you might have a 10th man on $40k and an 8th man in the rotation on $55-60k. Former might get 5 minutes across the entire season whereas #8 is playing 15 MPG.

9-10 could potentially be expected to make it to half the trainings and study or hold down a part-time job with the understanding of their coach and GM. Few years down the track and they might have the degree and an idea of whether they can make a career out of basketball rather than have stalled things. Ng and Tovey managed to do it though not everyone has the discipline or sway.

Not sure how the NBLPA would feel about reducing the minimum salary though.

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Years ago

You can definitely live on $40K, I've lived on much less, it's whether you have to talent/work ethic to turn that into a viable income over a longer career.

Reply #477467 | Report this post

Years ago

I guess the exciting thing for players is if the league does expand to 12-16 teams there will be either 28-56 full time (ie earning approx $70k+) jobs opening up, most guys who are 6,7,8 men on a roster could have a decent crack at starting for an expansion team and a bit of a pay rise along the way, they may move into the $100K+ category, in terms of names it may mean someone like Adnam/young guys around Australia including AIS/College Grads are more likely to get atleast a 10th man spot straight away, Daly gets a full time gig as a 7-10 man and would likely have a decent longish term career, a guy like Teys could go from earning around 30-50k to 70k+ playing a few more mins and guys like Creek who are probably earning in the 80-100k coming off the bench would likely move to a $100k+ starting spot, it may also mean higher competition for a guy like Gibsons salary, ie 12 teams chasing him instead of 8, which could increase his bargaining power and salary due to simple supply and demand as there are not many Aussies of his standard in the NBL,

so the players if they dont get too greed, just hold on and help the league survive the next few years and not send it broke by getting rid of/increasing points and salary caps which help keep teams alive and the league competitive from team 1 to 8, could really be big winners here.

The points cap will then not be able to be blamed for some of the fringe players getting a gig, as if they cant get a spot on the end of the bench on an expansion team they probably are just not seen to be a good fit for a NBL program for what ever reason.

I agree re Isaac the last few guys on a roster should be part timers, and have a reduced training load so they can build a career outside if they chose to do so.

As also mentioned guys have got themselves degrees, built other careers, etc whilst playing NBL so if others chose not to for what ever reason its not really the NBLs fault or responsibility.

Reply #477468 | Report this post

Years ago

I also have always wondered why guys who constantly complain about lack of jobs, wages, points cap, etc some of whom would have been on NBL salaries at greater than $100k at some points in there career dont join forces and build an expansion team, if they truely beleive teams make profits, can afford to pay more and create more jobs??

I think deep down they realise they wouldnt make any money and make more money than the owners now, which is very rare in business for an employee to make more than the owners.

So maybe its time to put up or shut up and stop complaining as they have it pretty good considering they work for organisations that basically never make profits, basically every NBL player has earnt more than there owner, well except maybe Perth the last couple of years but they are a rare exception, and if anyone beleives its easy to make a $100k+ profit running a NBL club after spending around $1 mil on players, and then factoring coaches, venue costs, marketing, etc, etc then i invite you to invest in a club.

There is nothing stopping the Players Union and the members to putting some money together and fielding a team and thus creating jobs for its members.

Reply #477470 | Report this post

Years ago

Remember most people work until they are 65+ these days, so its pretty unrealistic for most NBL players to expect to earn enough by the time they are 30-35 to not have to work again, id say in recent times very few have done this. So for most they need to expect to have some sort of job when they can no longer play, whether it be sports/basketball related or not. So they need to be mindful of this, its not upto other people to provide for there retirement just because they are good at sport, especially when the league/clubs generally lose money each year,

More AFL players would manage to do this, but again the AFL is backed by much larger crowds, sponsorships and a massive TV deal, so can afford this for its top players,

the NBL unfortunately isnt backed to that level so it cant. Its as simple as that its not the fualt of the NBL and its owners being to greedy or stingy or anything, so really struggle to see why players complain each year.

Reply #477471 | Report this post

Years ago

anyone who thinks that because the season is 6 months that means it's a 6 months gig has no clue how pro sports is played.
First of all you have to put in 10-12 years of hard work just to get there and you need to have talent and luck to make it.
You might be only a development player getting about 5 bucks an hour and training your backside off to break in.
Realistically your "working life" is 10 years top and there is no job security.
You train for 10 months a year, put your body on line, accept the diet and everything the coach tells you and get maybe 100k if you're a top talent.
These days the 70k is average wage, you can get that with a trade certificate only, eat what you want, drink a few every night and nobody watches your every move.
NBL players are underpaid, but that's the market, comparing them to NBA players ( and saying that they're on par) is not just ridiculous, but plain stupid

Reply #477516 | Report this post

Years ago

Average is higher than $70K, but they are lower paid than some other Australian sports leagues.

Reply #477517 | Report this post

Wilson Sting  
Years ago

I think the levels of pay (or at least what is discussed here) are pretty fair for Australia. Players profiles aren't that high that it affects their personal lives, they can still go to their local and have a crumbed steak on Monday nights.
I'd hardly call it 'full time' work too, they may go hard for a couple of hours a day but I think most people on this forum would rather that (if we were good enough, which we're not and that's why we're on this forum) than sitting in an office or laying bricks for 10 hours a day.

Reply #477522 | Report this post

Years ago

Most clubs do more than 'go hard for a couple of hours'. I regularly interview players at the end of the day which started with weights at 7.30-8am ish, then an individual session, then team session, then video/meetings, then a clinic in the afternoon.

They get some afternoons off but they also work on weekends. They earn their money in terms of work ethic, but at the same time are lucky because the sport doesn't generate enough yet to sustain those wages.

Reply #477528 | Report this post

Years ago

That was obvious by just doing the maths. Everybody knows basketball players in Australia don't make much and there aren't many opportunities from basketball. Players are there for the love of it and I'm pretty sure that every rostered player knows they're going to have to have a backup career planned (exceptions are if you're good enough to play in Europe or NBA).

I don't know any NBL players personally but I'm sure a lot of them would be studying. Heck Ng managed to study medicine and have an NBL and state league career at the same time so if you've got the time management skills it's posible. That said it would be hard on a development player who is basically volunteering as an NBL player to have the funds necessary to study and play at the same time without being dependent upon their family.

Reply #477540 | Report this post

Years ago

To Tibor just checking you aren't saying that players should be financially compensated for their training as juniors.

NBL players play 28 games, there are restrictions on how much training they can do that means that the reality is on average most would " work" half a day each week. So NBL should be viewed as a part time job that gives you income to set up business' or study for life after sports.

Game day consists of an hour shoot around and a 4 hour game time.

There are more than a couple of NBL players that will walk away before 35 with their house owned out right. There are plenty of others that retire without a thing.

The guys that are playing SEABL, overseas and so on to top up their NBL wage are the ones who will walk away form the sport financially in front.

There are plenty of pro athletes that are XBOX world champions right now. There are plenty that wish they weren't when they retired.

There are plenty of 2nd year lawyers that earn less than 70k out there.

Life isnt as bad as what Mr Greer is making it out to be.

Reply #477598 | Report this post

Years ago

"There are plenty of 2nd year lawyers that earn less than 70k out there.".

Haha yeah there are plenty of law graduates out there who even wish they could get a job, let alone a 70k salary.

Reply #477609 | Report this post

Years ago

^^ V true

Reply #477611 | Report this post

Years ago

I think the nbl is a great gig. Let's be real, if your elite, you get paid. If your average you get $70k.. CJ was on $175k with the kings 8 years ago, not bad coin I reckon... The nbl allows you to also go grab a quick $100k in the NZ league, so, a great nbl player can effectively take home $250-275k playing Bball a few times per week and get to live in a great country....

Reply #477614 | Report this post

Years ago

Greer has always been full of his self importance and he reveal is not new at all. Self seeking person who with a great set of average skills seems to seek publicity still. Despite the fact that no one really cares about him.

Reply #477633 | Report this post

Years ago

Gee whiz, just to follow up on the some of the posts here, i'd like to point out that I was the one responsible for speculating that an NBL career isn't financially rewarding, not Tommy.

I asked him the salary question because I thought it would be interesting and he answered it quite professionally in my opinion.

In the article linked to above, Tommy stated and I quote "you can make a good life out of playing basketball in this country" and "NBL players earn enough money so that basketball can remain their one focus".

I'm not sure I really understand why anyone would want to have a dig at him for wanting to promote the game, I'm pretty sure the downtown activities are a volunteered labour of love for Tommy and Liam.

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