Nuggets’ Emmanuel Mudiay says playing in the D-League for a season “would’ve been something to consider” if salaries were higher

The salaries NBA Development League players make are going to dramatically rise in the league’s next collective bargaining agreement.
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Point guard Emmanuel Mudiay speaks to reporters during Denver Nuggets press day, Sept. 26, 2016. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite) pepsi center; nuggets; basketball; sports; kevinjbeaty; denver; colorado; denverite;

Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay played a season of basketball in China before he jumped to the NBA. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The salaries NBA Development League players make are going to dramatically rise in the league's next collective bargaining agreement.

ESPN's Marc Stein broke the news yesterday that in the upcoming labor agreement, NBA D-Leaguers will make between $50,000 and $75,000 annually. As it stands now, they earn between $19,000 and $26,000.

That led some to wonder: Does this mean more players will go from high school directly to the NBA, where they would have to play for a team's D-League affiliate for a season before making the jump?

Players must turn 19 and be one year removed from high school to declare for the NBA Draft under current CBA rules. This has led to a rise of one-and-done players, who play one season of college basketball and then declare for the NBA Draft.

It has also, to a lesser extent, led to players signing one-year contracts overseas and then declaring for the NBA Draft after that contract is fulfilled. Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay went this route.

Mudiay, a Democratic Republic of the Congo native who played his high school ball in Dallas, decided to forego a scholarship offer at Southern Methodist University in favor of signing a one-year $1.2 million contract with the Guandong Southern Tigers of the Chinese Basketball Association.

At the time, he said his decision was a financial one:

Following the Nuggets' win over the Suns on Wednesday, I asked Mudiay about the escalation of D-League salaries. Basically, if you were to do it all over again, and this option — to make $75,000 at the D-League level for a season — was on the table, would you have thought about it?

"It probably would’ve been something to consider," Mudiay said. "But it wasn’t at the time. $75,000 to $1.2 million is a big difference. So that’s what I decided to do. That’s tough, but I probably would’ve gone overseas."

Moving halfway across the world at 18 years old to play basketball isn't easy, but it sounds like the money made it worth it for Mudiay. It will be interesting to see if future players in similar situations as Mudiay will choose bigger contracts overseas or decide to stay in the U.S. and play in the D-League for a season now that its players will soon make respectable salaries.

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