What is a basketball agent and what is their job?
A basketball agent represents a current or aspiring professional basketball player in pursuing, and negotiating, playing or endorsement opportunities. They will focus on the business side of basketball so you can focus on your training and development. Basketball agents will pursue opportunities for you to sign with teams, evaluate the opportunity and negotiate a contract so that you will receive the best economic value for your services.
Agents should be aware of your current level and your potential. Good agents will focus on putting you in the best position to develop your career while making sure you receive sufficient pay for your services. The agents main goal should not be to just get you the highest salary possible, as those situations are not always the best for a developing player. They should be focused on putting you in a position to improve and excel.
Nowadays it seems like everyone and their little brother is an overseas basketball agent. You need to know what the differences between “real” agents and “fake or wannabe” agents. Read on as we drop some knowledge about agents:
Who is considered an agent – There are 4 different types of agents and certifications
NBPA Certified Agent
Fiba Certified Agent
Practicing Attorney or Sports Lawyer
Uncertified Agent with no certification or Law Degree
NBPA Certified Agent – is an NBA or WNBA certified agent, who is able to negotiate contracts with NBA and WNBA teams. These are the only agents that will be able to work with NBA and WNBA teams. They passed an examination and subscription fee. If they do not sign an NBA player to a contract in 5 years they lose their agents license.
Fiba Certified Agent – is someone who took the fiba licensing test and pays the yearly fee to work as an agent. The yearly fee they pay keeps their certification valid.
Practicing Attorney or Sports Lawyer – these agents have a solid background in law and usually specialize in sports law. They usually do not need a fiba license or will be granted one due to the fact that they are practicing law in their home country.
Un-certified Agent – these you have to be careful with as there are legitimate ones and scammers. Contrary to what many people tell you, some agents without any certification have a lot of contacts and experience. It is not illegal to be the connection between a player and an opportunity. The good ones have partnerships with Fiba or NBPA agents and will use that partnership to sign contracts. But watch yourself as there are also WAY more scammers and shady types that will try to get a quick buck.
YOU! – You are the 5th type of agent. You can represent yourself and get your own opportunities overseas networking with coaches and teams. We’ll go more into detail about this.
IMPORTANT MESSAGE – Just because an agent has a license or is certified does not mean that they have contacts or that they will work hard for you. Paying the fee is the easiest part of the agent process. The difficult part is getting good contacts and using them to find opportunities for their players. It is always safer to work with a certified agent as they are being controlled and overseen by an organization that can revoke their license for malpractice. BE AWARE, that certification does not mean that there are not shady certified agents. The difference is that the certified agents can lose their license if they steal part of your salary. It does however not protect you from the greed and selfishness that many agents have.
What will a basketball agent do for me?
Finding you a team is the most obvious task your agent will do for you. They will explain what your value is overseas and help you to decide where your style of basketball is more warranted. Different countries and leagues search for different types of players. If you are working with a quality agent they should be able to find the league where you could be dominant and advance your career.
Length of contract – Your agent will also help you decide what length of time, how many seasons, would be best. Some teams like to sign players for an entire season or multiple seasons. Other teams need a quick replacement so that an injured player can recover, an example would be just a few weeks or months. Your agent will go over the pros and cons of each option so you can make the best decision for your career.
Advice from your agent, as long as they are experienced, is of great value. Most players starting out do not understand how the market works, or even how to behave when they are on a team and when interacting with their coaches and teammates. Poor behavior is what gets most players cut and sent home. Your agent should be giving you advice on the culture of where you are playing, their customs, help you with translations, and inform you on the team’s thoughts and opinions on you.
Improvements and ways you can develop to be a better player should come from your agent. They should be following you closely and watching as many of your games as possible. You should be getting tips and advice on how to improve your performance. They should also motivate you when you are down and congratulate you when you perform well. They can also help promote you by posting your accomplishments and achievements on their websites and social media accounts.
Basketball Arbitral Tribunal – Professional contracts should include a BAT clause. The BAT is the judicial arm of World basketball. If a team does not pay you or your agent, you can file an arbitration against the club that owes you salaries. An agent will make sure this clause is in your contract as well as assist you in requesting arbitration in the case that you need it.
Checking in on you and making sure you are happy, eating well, content with your playing time and role on the team is a very important job of an agent. They will also be the ones to mention to your club if you are missing things in the apartment or there is an issue with your meals. The most obvious, but not known to many, is to make sure you are getting paid and on time. Chances are if you play overseas long enough, you will be a victim of late payments or missed payments all together. DO NOT, let it change the way you behave or perform, it is not your coaches or teammates fault. Your agent will manage that situation so you can focus on basketball. Let your agent take care of the business side of basketball.
Good and bad situations – Throughout the course of your career you will be in good and bad team situations. Sometimes that is beyond the agent’s control. It is however their job to find the best situations possible and to get you out of the bad situations.
Offseason work is the most important part of professional basketball. This is the time where you can really improve yourself and get to the next level physically. Your agent will help you find the right trainers and coaches to improve your skills and your physical performance. Many times they will cover the expenses.
Which type of agent is right for me?
That will depend on what type of agent is interested in working with you. Typically agents find you, that is if you are playing in a competitive collegiate or professional league. Or maybe you are a young player that compete’s with the junior national team in your home country. Agents will be at games and tournaments. There will be more at bigger events that involve many teams such as Elite 8 tournaments or final fours. They will reach out to you through a coach or directly in person or via social media. Deciding which particular agent or type of agent will work best for you will depend on if you have choices. If you only have one option then there’s your answer. If you have multiple options ask people you know involved in basketball. Do your research and ask the players they currently represent. If you are still not sure, ask us, the staff at Europrobasket. Send us an email or a message and we’ll do our best to guide you in making the right decision.
Do I need an agent to play professionally overseas?
You do NOT need an agent to play overseas – If you are playing at a high level collegiate level and are interested in playing in the NBA, WNBA or overseas, then an agent will help you accomplish your goals. As you will not yet have the contacts to start your career, the help of an agent would be wise and advised by most professionals in the field of basketball. More on signing with a team overseas without an agent will be posted in a new article and video shortly.
How can I find a team overseas without an agent?
Make contacts and network – Crucial to absolutely every business. The more people you know, or that know you better put, the more opportunities you will have in life. Obviously those people need to have a good impression about you to want to help you or work with you but the first step is to make the contact. Spend a few hours per day growing your network and your contact list. Use an application to store your information. Stay in touch with them and reach out to them periodically. The most difficult job of an agent is to have current and up to date contact information and to keep those relationships.
Overseas basketball has changed by leaps and bounds since social media – Take advantage of all of the new technology. Make a linkedin profile, a facebook profile and a twitter account. Use your REAL name! So people can actually find you and recognize you. Use eurobasket.com and team websites to get contacts. Reach out to them and introduce yourself. Send your player bio, we’ll go more in depth about this in another article coming soon.
Where can I find an agent and how will I know if they are legit?
If you are playing collegiate basketball at a high level or professional level, agents will typically reach out to you, either directly (in person or via social media) or they will contact you indirectly (through a coach or trainer).
If you have not played collegiate basketball, professionally, or have experience at a small university or semi pro level, you will have to do the work to find an agent. We’ll explain how to do that here.
The Fiba Website is a great place to start your search for a certified agent: https://www.fiba.basketball/find-basketball-agent
Hoopsagents.com is another site that lists agents and agencies.
Former teammates and college coaches may have contact with various agents. Reach out to them and find out who they are working with or have worked with in the past.
Eurobasket.com is a great option to find agents. You can find them by browsing through team rosters and clicking on the players signed to teams. The agent that signed them to their team is usually listed on their player bio. Also in the news feed when a player signs, the agent or agency is usually listed.
Europrobasket has contact with hundreds of agents. Feel free to contact us for options.
It is important for you to find an agent that represents players with your experience. Don’t waste time reaching out to Lebron James’ or Steph Curry’s agent. Look for a younger up and coming agent if you don’t have NBA teams already looking at you. You need to find an agent that works to get players started overseas. Players that have the same experience as you. They will be willing and interested in helping you.
Working with multiple agents and the advantages or disadvantages?
I’m sure you have heard your friends overseas tell you. ”I work with multiple agents, one for every continent or country I play in”. You have probably also spoken with other friends overseas that say they are signed with one agent, either an American agent or one that is based abroad. Now you have to be wondering, Which option works best for me? With the right information you can make your own decision. Keep reading so you can make the right decision.
Working with multiple agents has its advantages, not being tied down to one region or country, freedom to promote yourself and reach more markets. If you feel that one agent is not working well with you or spending enough time helping you then you could seek out another agent’s help.
There are also many disadvantages, maybe more so than advantages. For example, many agents will not represent you, or work for you, if you are not signed with their agency. This is because they want to guarantee all of the work they put into searching for opportunities will not be wasted. EXAMPLE: Imagine agent A has been working and offering you to many teams for the past 3 months. Then agent B comes along and says, “I have an offer for you”. If you take agent B’s offer then all of the work Agent A put in will have been wasted. Not to mention, if one of the team’s that agent A is working with made you an offer, but you select the offer from agent B, then it could make agent A look bad. Or if you are offered to the same team by Agent A and Agent B then the team might walk away as they will not want to get in the middle of a commission dispute between the agents. Which one gets paid for offering you to the team?
Most agents have players signed to their agency. They will spend the bulk of their time and energy on those players. If an agent agrees to work with you and you are not signed with them, chances are that they will work 50% or less to find you an opportunity. This is one of the biggest disadvantages. Your profile will be at the bottom of the pile most likely.
How are agents paid or reimbursed for their services?
The simple answer is that the team pays them in most every case except in the NBA, WNBA and some Elite level overseas teams. It is important to read this section because many players get scammed because they believe they are the ones that need to pay the agent to help them. If an agent asks you for payment up front to help you find a team then; first, that agent is probably just trying to make money off of you and second, they do not believe you are interesting enough for a team to make you an offer. Either way it is best to find another option for representation. This is not to say that agent camps or online services that post jobs are not legitimate. Some of them are, many are not. Sometimes the best way to get an agent’s attention is to attend a camp that the agent or agency hosts and destroy the competition. That agent or agency will be more inclined to work for you. You do need to be cautious of camps, showcases and online services though as there are hundreds out there and many do not actually provide opportunities for players as they say they will. It is one thing to say you provide opportunities and another to actually provide those opportunities.
Overseas agents make their salaries from the team that they sign you to. This means that, in most cases, your team will be paying your agent his salary and you will not need to worry about it coming out of your salary. The typical fee an agent receives overseas is 10% of your contract. Sometimes paid monthly, sometimes paid in one or two installments. It just depends on the agreement your agent has with your club. There are cases where teams will pay the player a salary and the player will need to pay the agent. This happens in the NBA and WNBA. It also happens with some overseas clubs. Some of the top teams in Spain do this for example. It really depends on the organization that will be offering you the contract.
What is the process an agent goes through when offering me to a team?
This is a very important concept for you to understand. Many players believe their agent is not working for them because they have not received any offers. Or they feel that the communication with their agent is really bad. We would like to clarify the process so you are able to make educated decisions about your agent.
There are various ways your agent will get you an offer. It depends on the contact your agent has with the team. They could be speaking to the coach or the Sports Director. Maybe they know the president of the team. Maybe they are collaborating with another agent. Whatever the case may be, These are the steps agents typically go through to sign you to a team:
1) The team has an opening on their roster and reaches out to various agents. The team will usually inform the agent what the potential financial aspects of the offer would include.
2) At this point your agent may reach out to you and find out your interest in the opening.
3) The agent sends your information, player bio/resume with video links to the team.
4) The team analyzes the players information. They may need to have multiple representatives of the club approve, such as the coach, sports director, board members and president. There are typically many people involved in the decisions made by clubs.
5) If the team agrees, they will make a financial offer to the agent. If the agent believes it is suitable for their player, they will start negotiations.
6) The agent will work to get the player more money, bonuses, or other perks.
7) Once the player and agent both agree they will inform the team and a contract will be made.
8) The team and player will sign the contract with the agents name in the contract listed as the official representative.
This is how it typically works overseas. You need to know that agents will inform you of multiple openings in various countries with various salaries. They will check to see if you will accept the offer. If you are interested, they will send your information to the team. There could be 20, 30, 50+ other players that are sent to the same opening. There could be hundreds! Teams do not usually get back in touch with all of the agents to say they are not interested in their players. They will just move onto the next. So if you never hear back from your agent about an opening, that is why. The agent probably never heard back from the team. It usually takes only a day or two for a team to respond to an agent about a player they are interested in. If a few days have past, chances are the team is interested in another player.
American Agent or Local Agent? Which is better?
American basketball agents usually work with multiple agents overseas. Big agencies will work with agents on every continent. As stated earlier in the article, growing and keeping contacts in clubs overseas is a lot of work. It is made more difficult if an ocean separates the agent and the region the agent is working to place their players. In that case, regional agents will meet with teams locally. They will check in on the players they co-represent. Following their progress and keeping a good contact with the club. This also means that American agents need to split commissions with the regional agents. It also means that many american agents do not have direct contacts with teams or coaches overseas. Many american agents work from facebook or other social networks to communicate with or make new contacts overseas. This means that there are many american agents that do not understand the market in which they offer their players.
Local basketball agents have direct contact with coaches and teams in the region they service. They understand the markets ins and outs. They might be limited to a specific country or region, but they usually have a great handle on that country or region. The larger agencies and more established agents will have contacts around the world in different regions giving their players access to various markets.
If you are interested in starting your career in a specific region, look for representatives in that region. If you want to play in Japan, search for a Japanese agent. If you want to start in Europe, look to sign with a European agent. If you don’t care where you start, an American agent could be a great option. If you read all of this and still don’t know where to go, reach out to Europrobasket staff. We’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.
How Can I Get a basketball Agent to Want to Represent Me?
It should be clear that an agent is working as an agent to gain a profit. Their main goal is to make money selling you to a team. Just like a car salesman sells cars to a client. The better the car or product, which is you, the better chances for a sale and a larger profit. If an agent does not believe that they can sell you, they will not work for you. They typically only represent 10-20 players per working agent. If an agent believes it will take too much work and time to promote you to teams, then they will choose another player to represent. That’s why making yourself as marketable as possible will give you the best chance of working with a reputable agent.
What do agents look for in players they represent?
3) Resume or CV
4) Film – Highlights and full games CURRENT!
5) Lastly and most importantly, they look for character. A good person with great character makes an agent’s job easy and keeps their reputation intact.