Can Saudi Arabia Derail The NBA?

Draymond Green was among the players who explained that a move to Saudi Arabia wouldn't be out of the question ion the price was right.
Draymond Green was among the players who explained that a move to Saudi Arabia wouldn't be out of the question ion the price was right. Draymond Green - La Presse

Since joining the NBA after high school in 2003 Lebron James has been the focal point of NBA coverage. The “Lebron Era” is now in its twilight and the new “Wembanyama Era” is emerging.

Currently, the NBA is the best and most popular basketball league in the world. But there is a new existential threat to its dominance.

With salary restrictions in the new collective bargaining agreement and barriers of entry to young players, the NBA has put itself in a position to be gutted by someone willing to pay players more money.

In today’s reality, the NBA could easily be the next target of the Saudi Sports Investment Fund.

Saudi Arabia Has Funds To Diversify Into Sports and The NBA

With a reported $620 Billion dollars in its arsenal, the Saudis are already making professional footballers (soccer players) offers that have the biggest names in the NBA offering their services.

Saudi Arabia desperately needs to diversify its country’s wealth portfolio, and buying the third most popular sport in the world makes sense.

Basketball fans around the world are making plans to tune in and witness the beginning of the “Wembanyama Era” of the NBA, but what they don’t realize is that it may also be the last era of the NBA.

The United States has always been the home of the best basketball players in the world. As the rest of the world is catching up with the US, the pay disparities between the top NBA players and the top Euro league players are quite clear.

While Jaylen Brown just became the NBA’s first $300 million player, the highest-paid Euro League player Nikola Mirotic is only making around $5 million.

The thought of basketball players being offered more to leave the US seems unfathomable to the average NBA fan. But this is the reality for sports fans in Europe already.

All The Top Footballers Left Europe

If you look at the top 10 highest-paid footballers only one of them still plays in Europe. Cristiano Ronaldo signed a two-and-a-half-year $200 million dollar contract.

Neymar signed a two-year $300 million dollar deal, with a potential additional $400 million worth of commercial opportunities and a $500,000 bonus every time he posts about Saudi Arabia on social media.

The one top footballer to still play in Europe is Kylian Mbappe who turned down $700 million, to stay in Europe to play for PSG for around $332 million.

When the news of Mbappe turning down his Saudi deal NBA stars like Lebron James and Draymond Green all made posts stating their willingness to move to Saudi Arabia for the right Price.

Giannis Antetokoumpo will not stop tagging the team Mbappe turned down saying that they should sign him instead.


With it being more and more common that the best player on an NBA team is from Europe like Antetokoumpo or Wembanyama Saudi Arabia is a much shorter flight for what’s sure to be equal or better money than what the NBA can offer.

Saudis Already Took Over Golf

Basketball may not be that popular with the Saudi audience, so maybe instead of recruiting NBA talent to the Saudi domestic league, they would just start a new basketball league in the US. Similar to what they did with LIV Golf.

In just two years’ time, LIV signed all the top golfers most notably Tiger Woods got $800 million. Liv then was able to force the PGA into a merger just for survival.

A new Saudi league would not have salary caps a one-and-done rule, or even a draft, they’ll just be able to offer top talent more money than the NBA can without major reformation. Would NBA fans still regularly tune in to games if the best player on the Lakers was someone like Jaxson Hayes?

If the Saudis were to start the process of an NBA takeover look for veteran players like Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard to be the first to go, Westbrook is now making the veteran minimum, and the new CBA all but disqualifies Leonard from future max contracts. Stars like Antetokoumpo would likely leave as soon as their NBA contract was up.

The NBA Could Be A Backup League For Young Players

To put into perspective what an NBA alternative means to young players, let’s look at Wembanyama. His 4 year $55 million deal is the best a rookie can get in the NBA

He’ll be making around $13 million dollars a year for 5 years before he’s eligible for a big payday. In 3 years a new US-based Saudi League could offer an 18-year-old Cameron Boozer $50 million a year at the start of his career while a better player like Wembanyama will still be making $13 million a year with his Spurs contract.

Saudi Arabia Gives Crazy Perks And NBA Players Would Have 0 Taxes

On top of the potential increased salaries, Saudis are known to reward players of their clubs immensely. Remember when the Saudi team beat Argentina in the Group stage of the World Cup, and the entire team was gifted a Rolls Royce?

Sometimes fans, yes fans, not team owners will gift players rolex’s for a good performance. All of Neymar’s expenses in Saudi Arabia are covered by the Club and there are no taxes on his salary.

When You break down an NBA star like Steph Curry’s yearly salary about 55% of it goes to taxes, and then agent fees are on top of that.


Even if the Saudis started a new league in the US they’d be able to play 3 or 4 times more, making Steps yearly take-home pay inflate from around 28 million a year to around 100 million a year. Which league would you play in?

It’s Just Hypothetical…. For Now

While the topic of this article is completely hypothetical at this point in time, there is nothing stopping the Saudis from doing this, their wealth is unimaginable to most people. Even if they spent all $620 Billion dollars on their sports investment fund they could replenish to a substantial amount easily.

Will the Wembamyama Era be the last era of the NBA? Do you think the Saudis will come for basketball? Or do you think the NBA will be able to survive anything that comes its way?

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