The Memphis Grizzlies made waves earlier this month when they decided to let go of their scouts. Advance scouting is the first step toward a team’s preparation for an opponent. The advance scout is responsible for watching the opponent, diagramming all their plays, knowing their calls, knowing their side out of bounds plays, baseline out of bounds plays, end of quarter plays, end of game plays, early offense, zone offense, secondary offense, etc. A large part of the job is logistics, getting from one city to the next. From October to April, most scouts attend between 100-130 games during the regular season. Flights, taxis, rental cars, and hotel costs add up, which is why a number of NBA teams have decided to cut back. Sports Illustrated’s Steve Aschburner spoke with New Jersey’s vice president of basketball operations about the costs of preparing for each game:
Airfare could run anywhere from $300 to $700 to attend one game (teams charter planes, but their scouts fly commercial). Hotel might average $140 a night. There’s the price of a rental car (upwards of $80) or ground transportation, along with food and incidentals that can add an extra $100 a day. Now multiply it by 100 to 130 games a year, then add the staffer’s salary and benefits.
“We spent $80,000 to $90,000 in expenses on the road,” said Marks, whose team employed Paul Cormier as its advance scout for two seasons. Cormier will not be back, and Marks said the Nets might use regional freelancers.
“Then you’ve got to factor in the salary,” Marks added. “You’re looking at close to $200,000. Plus, Paul did 103 NBA games last season. That’s 18 or 19 a month, which is crazy, especially when you’re [traveling commercial]. We asked ourselves, How can we be smart with it and how can we save a little money?”
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