As an overseas basketball player without an agent, it can be tempting to accept the first contract offer from your current team for next season. Especially if you had a good season and like the team you played for, you will be flattered that the team has offered you a contract to stay for the next season. However, here are several reasons why players should never accept the first contract offer…at least not right away.

-Lowball Offers

This may seem strange but sometimes, teams will offer a low contract on purpose because either they know the player is unlikely to accept it or they know they cannot compete with the player’s market value. It could also be that they might not really want you back, but would take you back if you were to accept a contract far under your worth. By doing so, they can at least tell the fan base and media that they offered you a contract, but it was declined. It is a win-win situation for the team.

-Limited Negotiation Power

Without an agent, players may have limited negotiation power, and accepting the first offer can lead to leaving money on the table. Teams know that there are so many players out there, so if you do not take the offer, someone else will take the same offer or even less. They would prefer however, to bring back someone that they know. Therein lies your power to negotiate smartly. 

-Other Offer Possibilities

Players who receive an offer from their current team should delay their decision as long as possible and speak with the team about a deadline to either accept or deny. This will allow the player to explore other offers that may be available elsewhere. I can guarantee you though, at some point in your career, you will decide to take an offer, and a “better” one will come shortly thereafter. It happens all the time. Try to reach out to teams that might be interested in you to see if you can leverage the offer from your team with another team. If not, when the deadline comes, you can still stay with your current team.

-Market Value

Accepting the first offer may not accurately reflect a player’s market value. By exploring other offers, players can gain a better understanding of what they’re worth and ensure they’re getting a fair deal. You have to know or find out as much as possible what other players are making in order to figure out your worth. Of course budgets vary, but by investigating, you will have a better view of what you might be able to negotiate.

-Build Relationships

Exploring other offers can also help players build relationships with other teams and coaches. This can lead to future opportunities and a wider network of contacts in the industry. I call it “flirting”. If your team thinks other teams are interested in you, it may force them to negotiate fairly or risk losing you. No one wants someone who no one wants. Make yourself attractive to other teams.

If you say no to the first offer, have a plan for what you would like to have in the next contract. Maybe if the team cannot offer as much in terms of salary, maybe it is possible to get extras included such as meals, per game win bonus or things like that which will either not take money out of your pocket and possibly add to it in different ways.

Never go too high with your expectations in the negotiations. Be realistic. If you make 1000$, it would be senseless to ask for 2000$ for example. Your contract negotiation should be in tune with the budget of the club. Be smart, but get what you can. If you do not ask, you will never know what you COULD have gotten.

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