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Players talk about what they’ll do with money earned from the In-Season Tournament’s prize – Basketball Insiders


When the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver started talking about the first-ever In-Season Tournament, no one was too excited about it. The league had to devise both a marketing plan to make the experience unique, as well as a bonus structure so that teams and players would find the cup competitive enough to want to give it their all. 

Now that we are reaching the competition’s semifinals in Las Vegas, the franchises are well aware that not only glory is on the line, but also big money. Each player wins $500,000 for lifting the trophy, $200,000 for making the final, $100,000 for reaching the last four and $50,000 for those who made it until the quarterfinals.

The only difference between athletes is that two-way players will only perceive half as much as those on standard deals. However, Boston‘s Neemias Queta doesn’t mind this at all. “Obviously, it’s some extra money, something to help your family, whatever it is,” he said. “But at the end of the day, it’s not the money that makes us want to get to the tournament. It’s just the prestige of getting the first one.”

Let’s use a player like Queta as an example. Most two-way players win about $559,000 per season, so if they end up winning the title in Las Vegas, they’ll earn an extra $250,000 more. Bragging rights aside, the Celtics big man would be earning a 45% raise if they lift the title.

“It’s another good reason to be motivated,” said Suns two-way player Saben Lee before getting eliminated by the Lakers on Tuesday night. “But regardless, guys love to play basketball and compete at a high level.”

On the other hand, for some of the league’s highest-paid stars who are still alive in the competition, winning half a million just seems like getting another game check. Some of these big names are LeBron James and Anthony Davis, or even Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

As the NBA is getting ready to distribute about $18 million in bonus prizes, some other players can’t help but appreciate any opportunity of earning extra cash. Milwaukee‘s Khris Middleton, for example, who is making almost $29 million this campaign, is very motivated.

“I’m sure the richest guy in the world would be happy to get $500,000,” the Bucks star assured. “We’re all excited about that opportunity to get some extra cash.”

Despite most players seeing this extra money as a great incentive, others still believe that the most important prize is winning the NBA title in June

Even though most athletes have explained what they’d like to do with this “extra cash”, others believe that the main focus should still be to fight for the NBA title in June. Bucks forward Bobby Portis couldn’t help but express how his only real objective is to reach the league’s playoffs and beyond.

“We talk about it all the time, the money’s that’s on the line,” said the Milwaukee star. “It’ll mean a lot. … But the end award is what we’re all shooting for, getting to the Finals, getting back there, drilling it and being the best we can be. This is nice but all our minds are focused on what can happen in June.”

As New Orleans recently defeated Sacramento on Monday and are now headed to Las Vegas’ semifinals, their star player Zion Williamson did recognize the importance of having money as an incentive to chase the In-Season Tournament glory.

“That’s something that you can give to family members or whatever you plan on doing with it. I think that’s good motivation,” the Pelicans forward said. “But also, for us, we haven’t won nothing. So, I think that would be like a starter step for us, trying to go and win that.”

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