How Much Money Do Overseas Basketball Players Make?

The amount of money an athlete can earn playing basketball overseas can vary depending on the country. In China, some players earn between $1 and $3 million a year, while players in Europe start out around $100,000. Women’s basketball players can also do well overseas, sometimes earning 12 times more playing in China than they do in the United States.

Playing basketball overseas has become an attractive option for players who are looking to be compensated more than they would be in the United States, particularly those players who have been signed to the NBA’s Developmental League, which is a stepping stone to playing in the NBA but only pays its players between $12,000 and $24,000 a year.

By playing for one of the other basketball leagues across the globe, players can more easily earn $65,000 or more. Europe is a growing market that will often pay U.S. players $100,000 a season, while China’s CBA has wooed players such as Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith to play for between $1 and $3 million a year, tax free.

Many WNBA players have also found it beneficial to use their off-season playing in China. For example, Brittany Griner, the top pick of 2013 WNBA Draft, only earned $49,440 when she played for the Phoenix Mercury her rookie season. She then went on to earn $600,000 by playing in the Women’s Chinese Basketball Association for 3 months.