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Report: NBA’s minor-league players discussing unionizing

NBA's minor league

EL SEGUNDO, CA - DECEMBER 15: Andre Ingram #20 of the South Bay Lakers handles the basketball against the Stockton Kings on December 15, 2019 at UCLA Heath Training Center in El Segundo, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Players who sign directly into the NBA’s minor league receive a $35,000 salary (unless they’re an elite high school prospect). If they played in the minor league in the last two seasons, they get placed on their prior team.

Shams Charania of The Athletic:

In a move that could be the first step toward collectively bargaining, the NBA G League’s players and the National Basketball Players Association are having serious discussions about unionizing, sources told The Athletic.
Among G League players and agents, sources tell The Athletic that the hope with unionizing would be increased salaries for players, freedom of player movement, work benefits, and having a voice on their behalf on issues of discipline and contract structures.

There’s definitely room for minor-league players to improve work conditions. But I wonder whether these gains would be fleeting, at least under this structure.

The NBA is heading toward each of its teams having a minor-league affiliate. Right now, only the Trail Blazers and Nuggets don’t. Once all 30 NBA teams do, expect greater control from those teams – holding exclusive NBA rights of more players on their affiliate, an expanded NBA draft to stock those affiliates. In exchange, minor-league players will likely get higher salaries. It’s the natural progression (thanks in part to the NBA’s player union).

But that does little good for current minor-leaguers, who are trying to accelerate the process of improving work conditions.