Jose Colorado

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Overseas Basketball Salaries: Australian NBL Basketball League Salaries and Salary Cap (2022)

australian nbl basketball salaries [chart]


Salary Ranges:

$13,000 - $500,000 USD/year

Most Commonly Reported Salary (Australians):

$109,000 USD/year

Most Commonly Reported Salary (Imports)

$120,000 - $250,000 USD/year

Lowest Reported Salary:

$13,000 USD/year

MAX Salary:

$500,000 USD/year

Team Salary Cap:

$1.1 Million USD/year

Sources Referenced [Players, Media, Coaches]:


Source :, Professional Basketball Players Survey Data [2021]

How much do NBL basketball players make?

Like many overseas pro leagues, the NBL’s pay grade can vary considerably with some players making as little as $17,000 AUD ($13,000 USD) per/year while others can rake in a whopping $600,000 AUD ($500k USD).

Despite that, the NBL is unquestionably the highest-paying and BEST professional basketball league in the Oceania.

Unlike many of the overseas leagues we studied (100+ in total), the NBL is decently transparent in its salaries.


There are 6 different player distinctions/categories:

  1. Restricted players (imports/foreigners)

  2. Marquee players

  3. Special Restricted Players

  4. National players

  5. Development players

  6. NBL Next Stars

Based on where you are, players should expect a certain salary range.

Let’s take a look at each.

Australia NBL player salaries will depend greatly based on what player designation an overseas player has.

Australia NBL player salaries will depend greatly based on what player designation an overseas player has.

NBL Average pay scale per player type

All dollars are in AUD. Avg. Imp. Salary = Average Import Salary , SRP = Special Restricted Player. Please note: MAX salary is the largest salary publicly recorded to date.


Imports and foreigners are frequently the highest-paid players on many NBL teams. The average NBL import can expect between $120k - $250k USD per/year with many clubs employing NBA players in years past.

NBL teams were allowed 2 import players for the 2020-2021 season.

But beginning in the 2021-2022 campaign that number is back up to 3 (typically what it’s set at).

who is the highest paid player in the nbl?

Bryce Cotton is one of the highest-paid players in NBL history.

The highest-paid NBL player currently is American Bryce Cotton of the Perth Wildcats as the 3x MVP signed a 3yr/$2 million AUD deal ($1.5 million USD) in 2020.

And while former NBA veterans such as Stephen Jackson, Al Harrington, Josh Childress and many more have all played in the NBL, it is believed Cotton’s salary may actually be the largest in league history.


Of course with many of the former NBAers salaries’ not being disclosed, this is difficult to verify.

But with the current upswing in valuation and NBL owner Larry Kestelman taking the league to unprecedented financial heights over the past four years, it certainly isn’t out of the question.

Here are some other big NBL contracts in recent memory.

Notice how 4/5 are imports (Americans) with Aussie Andrew Bogut (former NBA veteran) being the lone exception.

TOP 5 biggest nbl contracts




NBL Team (Year)

1. Bryce Cotton

$650k/yr (2 mill/3yr)

Perth Wildcats (2020)

2. Andrew Bogut

$500k/year ($1 mill/2 yr)

Sydney Kings (2018)

3. LaMelo Ball


Illawarra Hawks (2019)

4. Roderick "RJ" Hampton


New Zealand Breakers (2019)

5. Jerome Randle


Sydney Kings (2017)

Chart: [All figs in AUD] (2021)

HOW MUCH DO australian basketball players get paid?

When just considering purely NBL Australian player salaries’ then the average Aussie can expect $146,000 AUD per/year ($109,000 USD) according to The Athletic’s Bill Shea, with the MAX salary topping out at $343,309 AUD ($256,000 USD).

The lowest salary permitted is $17,000 AUD ($13,000 USD).

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But it gets more interesting:

With the current global situation, NBL players had to make HUGE sacrifices for the season to even go forward.

Those included MASSIVE slashes in their contracts based on their economic bracket.

Here’s the breakdown (all figures in AUD):

NBL 2020 - 2021 Player Salary Cuts: Percentage cut per bracket

All dollars are in AUD. Note that development salaries ($17k), 60k - 79k all were unaffected by pay cuts.
  • Min. salary of $60,000 AUD = unaffected by pay cuts

  • $60,000 - $79,000 salaries = unaffected by pay cuts

  • $80,000 - $99,000: 27.5 percent cut.

  • $100,000 - $19,000: 32.5 percent cut

  • $120,000 - $139,000: 35 percent cut

  • $140,000 - $159,000: 37.5 percent cut

  • $160,000 - $179,000: 42.5 percent cut

  • $180,000 - $199,000: 45 percent cut

  • $200,000: 50 percent pay cut

With this mind, we can break down local Australian players’ salaries even further into 3 categories:

  • Development Players

  • Marquee Players

  • Australian/New Zealander Nationals

NBL Development Player Salary

The NBL development player’s salary is set at $17,000 AUD per/year ($12,000 USD per/year). Teams must have 1 development player but can sign up to 4 per roster.

This is the lowest possible dollar amount a NBL player can be paid.

Unsurprisingly - based on its name - these salaries are meant for younger “national” players in development.


They are trying to learn the professional ropes and can earn a few bucks while doing so.

To qualify as an NBL development player you must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be your first professional contract in the NBL

  • Must be younger than 25 years old

  • Must be willing to accept $17,000 AUD salary (non-negotiable)

NBL Marquee Players’ SALARIES

NBL Marquee Player contracts are essentially the opposite of Development Players with these salaries being reserved for the best Australians and New Zealanders.

NBL Marquee Players’ contracts can range from $ 171,654 - $343,309 AUD per/year ($128k - $256k USD per/year), although it should be noted these contracts could actually be much higher in reality since there is a fixed cap on how much it counts against NBL salary cap.

This is how a player such as Andrew Bogut was able to sign for a reported 2yr/$1million AUD (746k USD) with the Sydney Kings in 2018 - a total that is way outside the limit of Marquee Players contracts.

Each team is allowed 1 Marquee Player.

That is, unless they’d like to switch out an import for another Marquee Player.

In that case:


Marquee Player No.

Salary cap cost*

Team Consequence

Marquee 1

$171,654 AUD ($129k USD)

Available to all teams (no consequence)

Marquee 2

$228,873 ($172k USD)

Removes one import spot

Marquee 3

$286,091 AUD ($215k USD)

Removes second import spot

Marquee 4

$343,309 AUD ($258k USD)

Removes third import spot

*Cost of salary may actually be much higher in reality. But only these totals will count against any NBL team’s salary cap.

Source: NBL Salary Cap System

Usually Marquee Players are Australian national team players.

Although that is not a requirement.

Examples of suspected Marquee Players:

These guys make a killing.


In between NBL Marquee Players and Development players are the rest of the “normal” Australian overseas pros.

Australian pro basketball players can expect - on average - $146,000 AUD per/year ($109,000 USD) playing in their domestic pro league. The lowest an Australian pro can get paid is $58, 584 AUD per/year ($43,000 USD) per an official release from the NBL.

NBL Australia Salary Cap

Despite the pay reduction to NBL players for the 2020 - 2021 season, the salary cap remains unchanged at $1.43 million AUD/per year ($1.1 million USD) for a 10-player roster.

The NBL’s soft salary cap means teams are able to go over that limit but will be required to pay a luxury tax fee.

Australia's NBL Salary Cap system is a soft cap allowing for larger professional basketball salaries.

Key numbers/figures in NBL salary cap system (2020 - 2021):

  • 10-man roster per team

  • 2 import players per team (3 for 2021/22 season)

  • 1 NBL Next Stars player per team (doesn’t count against cap)

  • 1 Special Restricted Player per team (doesn’t count against cap)

  • 1 Marquee Player per team (unless import is switched out for another)

  • MAX NBL Player Contract Length: 3 years

  • Soft salary cap: $1.43 million AUD/per year (approx. $1.1 million USD)

    • Teams above salary cap pay luxury tax fee, shared amongst other NBL teams

  • Min. salary cap [teams must spend this much]: $1.28 AUD million (approx. $972k USD)

  • Five lowest paid players per team cannot have salary add up to 40% of salary cap

  • Lowest salary allowed (U25 players): $17,000 AUD (approx. $12,000 USD)

  • Lowest salary allowed (regular nationals): $55,000 AUD (approx. $41,000 USD)

NBL Next Stars Program Salary

NBL Next Stars players such as LaMelo Ball don’t have their player salaries counted against the NBL team salary cap.

One very cool feature to the NBL’s salary cap:

The NBL actually designates an additional roster spot for each team specifically for a “NBL Next Stars” player.

Per The Athletic, these salaries are reportedly set at $100,000 AUD ($75,000 USD) but other insiders report it can amount to much more when including bonuses and incentives.

In any case, this figure DOES NOT count against the team salary cap.


It is paid for by the league itself!

When thinking of NBL Next Stars think of exceptional young talents typically bound for the NBA.

But instead of the NCAA route, they are looking for a professional setting to prepare themselves for the NBA draft.

The NBL has provided that since 2018.

NBA Rookie of the Year, LaMelo Ball (2019 - 2020, Illawarra Hawks), comes as the most famous example but there are a few others as well, including:

  • Terrance Ferguson (2016 - 2017, Adelaide 36ers)

  • RJ Hampton (2019 - 2020, New Zealand Breakers)

  • Marcos Louzada (2019 - 2021, Sydney Kings)

Through the Next Stars Program NBL teams are able to:

  • Afford and incentivize higher profile (American) players to play in the NBL

  • Sign elite Australians/New Zealanders since Next Stars don’t count against the cap

  • Increase the league’s international appeal

  • Increase revenue through higher viewership

Win-win for everyone.

LaMelo Ball’s NBL Contract Salary

Despite NBL Next Stars base contracts allegedly topping out at $100,000 per season, LaMelo Ball reportedly pulled in $500,000 AUD ($375,000 USD) due to him hitting various performance bonuses and incentives in his lone year with the Illawarra Hawks.

Current Orlando Magic guard, R.J. Hampton, also hit that same dollar amount according to Jonathan Givony from Draft Express.

Kai Sotto’s NBL Salary

Another NBL contract of much interest is Filipino sensation, Kai Sotto’s.

The national team member is locked into a 2-year deal (plus a player option) with the Adelaide 36ers at the moment.

While initial reports have not disclosed the exact amount, Sotto was set to make approximately $200,000 USD with the NBA G-League Ignite before he opted out for the NBL.

Kai Sotto’s NBL contract in Australia is likely between 150k - 300k USD/per year.

As an NBL Special Restricted Player (SRP) - meaning a player from China, Philippines, Taiwan, India, South Korea, Singapore and Japan, Sotto’s contract DOES NOT count against the team salary cap.

So when considering Kai Sotto’s international appeal, his designation as a SRP and the pay scale of NBL Marquee Players and imports, it wouldn’t be unfair to speculate the big man is making anywhere between $150k - $300k USD (200k - 400k AUD) for his three-year deal.


With such a massive global appeal at the moment through its Marquee Players, Next Stars (Americans) and Special Restricted Players (Asians), the NBL’s valuation has skyrocketed recently.

In fact:

NBL Owner, Larry Kestelman, says since taking over in 2015 the league has:

  • Increased crowd numbers by 25 percent (including multiple attendance records)

  • Increased television viewership by 40 percent

  • Increased NBL social media interaction and engagement by 400 percent

The excitement surrounding the league - and in particular the NBL Next Stars - has made many excited.

So much so in fact that many former NBA players have entered into the NBL ownership game including:

Increased NBL salaries and league valuation have made many NBA players interested in getting involved in NBL ownership.

Increased NBL salaries and league valuation have made many NBA players interested in getting involved in NBL ownership.

Did LaMelo Ball buy the Illawara Hawks?

Interestingly enough:

Fresh off his sensational season in the NBL, LaMelo Ball had long been reported as the frontrunner to purchase his former club, the Illawarra Hawks.

Although ultimately the team was sold to a different business group featuring Philadelphia 76ers GM Bryan Colangelo.


With its high salaries, million dollar salary cap and soaring league sponsors, investors and revenue valuation, there isn’t much to dislike about the National Basketball League of Australia.

In the years to come, overseas hoopers should expect the NBL to be one of the top professional leagues in the world both in salaries and performance.

Do you know anyone who has played in the NBL?
Who’s your favorite NBA player to come out of Australia and the NBL?

Let me know in the comments below!

Jose Colorado is a 6-year professional basketball player helping others achieve their dreams of pro basketball with a proven and tested approach to overseas basketball.