Europe’s sluggish economy is killing their basketball leagues

european basketballFrance’s Evan Fournier (L) falls as he fights for the ball with Lithuania’s Martynas Pocius during their Basketball World Cup third place game in Madrid September 13, 2014.Susana Vera/Reuters

Across most of Europe, sluggish economic growth has put strain on businesses, households, and even central banks.

Now this economic slowdown is hurting their professional sports leagues.

On Yahoo Sports’ The Vertical podcast on Wednesday, Yahoo NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski and DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony discussed the upcoming NBA draft.

During their discussion, the duo relayed a gloomy outlook for Europe’s basketball leagues as an alternative to the NBA.

European basketball leagues were once a viable alternative for players who wanted to make a living playing professionally but weren’t quite talented enough to make it in the NBA.

But according to Givony, the flow of US players to the European leagues has started to slow as the money has dried up.

“I think that Europe is really struggling badly right now economically. All you have to do is open the newspaper and it’s right there in front of you,” said Givony.

“European [basketball] leagues play a big part in that. It’s just not that easy right now for an American player to go over there and make six-figures.”

In fact, GDP growth for the European Union has been under 2% annually since 2011 and has remained anemic for some time.

While many American players considered Europe’s top leagues as a place to develop their game, the added bonus was a larger financial incentive. The NBA’s Development League typically only pays players in the range of $20,000 to $30,000 a year. In the past, European leagues would offer Americans contracts of $100,000 or more.

That money, it seems, is no more.

“There’s always a perception around players, players’ families, people around players, and maybe even the general public that ‘if I don’t make it, I’m going to leave school early and even if I don’t make it in the NBA, there’s a lot of money for me to make overseas’,” said Wojnarowski.

“And I think the big contracts overseas, a lot of the money has dried up in a lot of countries in Europe.”

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