NBA Free Agency is finally upon us. Everyone, myself included, desperately wanted to know where all the top players would land. Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard, Klay Thompson, D’Angelo Russell, and Kemba Walker are getting new massive contracts. And they’re all getting $140+ million. They’ll be able to buy nearly whatever they want and have generational wealth. However, NBA players (much like NFL players) are still getting swindled out of big-time contracts. I get that it’s tough to feel empathy for millionaires. But listen to this. In 2020, the new salary cap is only 109 million dollars, with a 132 million dollar tax line. And the NBA collective bargaining agreement severely limits elite pay. It doesn’t make sense that some of these talents are earning similar contracts as good, not great, players. Take this in. Kawhi Leonard, two-time NBA Finals MVP, will make the same amount as… wait for it…
Are you kidding me? Most sports fans have to Google Khris Middleton to even know what team he plays for. And that’s the crux of the NBA CBA. Max-contracts and the salary cap deflate contract values of world-class players. Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, and Jimmy Butler will all make the same as Klay Thompson next season $32.7 million. It’s baffling.
Yes, the CBA is good for the fringe, bench, and solid starter players. But it truly hurts the best of the best. This is America. For goodness sake, we are bred in capitalism here. It’s why Shark Tank is such an incredible show. People want to know that the best can earn the most. Talent and hard work equate to financial success. But, speaking of Shark Tank, owners like Mark Cuban are still, somehow, avoiding paying players what they are worth.
Max Salaries Prevent Superstars Never Receive Their True Value in NBA Free Agency
For comparison, take Mike Trout. If he doesn’t even earn another contract, his career salary is 521 million dollars. Obviously, the best baseball player, possibly of all time, earned that contract. But, it’s much different in the NBA and NFL. Look at Tom Brady (the GOAT quarterback with 6 rings) and LeBron James (Top-Five NBA player of all time). Their career salaries combine for 614 million dollars. Trout is earning 85-percent of what Brady and James combine for. Which is absolutely ridiculous considering the revenue the NFL generates.
But that’s how it is. It’s why top players in the NBA hold out for contracts and why an NBA lockout is looming. Because players like Khris Middleton, Tobias Harris, Jimmy Butler, Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, and Kawhi Leonard should not get the same pay. Some of these things are not like the other. Thompson and Leonard set themselves apart season after season with elite play, both offensively and defensively. They’ve come through in the clutch and showed that they are difference makers. Great players drive ticket sales, team merchandise, and ratings. For those reasons, they deserve to get theirs.
With how much money owners make and elite players don’t, it’s certainly a broken system. When the next CBA is up, get ready for an NBA lockout.