The NBA and G League development program for top high school prospects has been restructured, including salaries and incentives of $500K or more, as well as playing exhibitions rather than regular G League contests, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Adrian Wojnarowski report. Previously, the program offered prospects a $125K salary.
The revamped program helped entice ESPN’s No. 1 high school prospect, Jalen Green, to commit to the G League rather than sign with a college team.
The updated one-year development program will be conducted outside of the G League’s traditional team structure, according to the ESPN duo. Rather than playing regular-season games for a G League affiliate, these top prospects would join some veteran players for exhibition games against G League teams, foreign national teams and NBA academies throughout the world. The exhibitions against G League teams, approximately 10-12 games, wouldn’t count in the standings.
Additionally, the salary bonus structure in a player’s contract will likely include incentives for completing community events and attending life skills program coordinated by the G League, sources tell ESPN.
Previously, top prospects and their advisers had concerns about losing their draft value by being overmatched on G League rosters against more experienced and physically mature players.
The veteran pro players on the team could mentor Green and other prospects while potentially benefiting their own careers. Former NBA coach Sam Mitchell is expected to be a candidate to coach the team, according to the ESPN story.
G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim believes the updated program will be much more appealing to prospects than going overseas for a year. LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton, two of the top prep players last year, chose to play in the Australian league.
“We have kids leaving the United States — Texas and California and Georgia — to go around the world to play, and our NBA community has to travel there to scout them. That’s counter-intuitive,” Abdur-Rahim said. “The NBA is the best development system in the world, and those players shouldn’t have to go somewhere else to develop for a year. They should be in our development system.”
The NBA’s negotiations with the NBPA about eliminating the one-and-done rule for the draft remain stalled, per Woj and Givony, so the G League’s program provides a new bridge to the league for players who aren’t interested in going the college route. For now, those players – such as Green – will still become draft-eligible once they’re a year removed from high school.