Guys drafted in the first round of the last NBA Draft are stuck.
They do not have an NBA contract yet — the draft is in June but no deals could be signed until July, and then it was too late — so they have no income. However, first rounders are guaranteed to get a contact (that will not change in the new labor deal). Which means for them signing to play overseas is a massive risk — get injured playing in Europe and they could lose out on that NBA contract. Teams could choose just not to sign them. And then the dream is gone, plus the money is gone. (Yes, they could have gotten injured playing in the NBA Summer League but they would have already signed a deal.)
So what are they doing to get by? Taking out loans, Reggie Jackson — drafted out of Boston College in June by the Oklahoma City Thunder — told Darnell Mayberry of the Oklahoman.
While most veteran players have had their paychecks suspended, they at least have, or should have, some kind of coin in reserve. Jackson has yet to receive his first pro check at all. Instead of signing his rookie contract last month, Jackson was forced to take out a loan. He says it’s a small amount that only keeps him afloat.
“I’m trying to pay back as little as I can and just get through the times right now,” Jackson said. “I’ve grown up not being super wealthy. I went to college being broke and found a way to manage through that. So I’m just getting by. Basketball’s never been about money and never will be. I’m living comfortably enough to where I’m satisfied. But I’m also not out there buying a big house and a big car. I’m not trying to do that. I’m OK with settling for less fancy things.”
Basically, his place is about as nice as your first place right after college. The one with the wagon wheel coffee table where beer bottles stacked in a pyramid in the window still seemed like a decoration.
For many of those players, the loan will come from their agent, so paying it back right now is not the issue. Someday Jackson will be able pay that loan off. But right now he can’t, and as the lockout drags on with the two sides barely talking (but suing like mad) it’s only going to get worse.