NBA offers young stars $800,000 to keep them away from NBL

Los Angeles: The NBA is offering basketball's top young prospects $US500,000 ($792,900)-plus contracts to stay in the US rather than follow LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton and spend a year in Australia's NBL.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who admitted last year he was "a little jealous" of the NBL snagging recruits, scored a major victory on Thursday.

Projected NBA No.1 pick LaMelo Ball spent time with Illawarra in the NBL rather than the American development leagues.Credit:Getty Images

California high school star and potential 2021 No.1 NBA Draft pick Jalen Green announced he would sign up for the NBA's lucrative new G League development program.

"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," G League president Shareef Abdur-Rahim told ESPN.

"They should be in our development system."

Australian 19-year-old Makur Maker, who stands 211cm tall, is also reportedly eyeing the G League.

Silver admitted to being jealous of the NBL last year when Texas-raised Hampton made the surprise decision to play for the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL rather than the G League. The G League last year was offering young players $US125,000 contracts.

Australian Makur Maker may also join the NBA’s G League.Credit:AP

Silver and Abdur-Rahim responded this year by upping G League contracts for young stars to $US500,000-plus.

They also created a program that would not place players on a G League team and subject them to the rigours of the second tier league.

Instead, they would enter a NBA-G League developmental program with top coaches and veteran players who will act as peers.

ESPN reported the young players would play exhibition games against G League, foreign national and NBA academy teams.

The NBL has had great success in recent years in enticing elite, young American talent to its league.

"That's a real program that the NBL has," Abdur-Rahim told ESPN.

"It's appealing. 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."

Silver bristled last year when then 18-year-old Hampton announced he would play with the Breakers instead of the G League.

"I am a little jealous because we are, in our G League, trying to create our own professional track," Silver said in May last year.

"I haven't talked to him yet or his advisers, but to the extent he decided he was better off in Australia than our G League, I think I'm going to talk to Commissioner Shareef of the G League and say, 'What should we be looking at differently?'"

Ball is a potential No.1 pick at the June 25 NBA Draft after his season with the Illawarra Hawks.

Hampton is expected to be selected in the top 20.


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