Hiring Jacque Vaughn Was the Right Call for the Brooklyn Nets

Sometimes boring is better.

And it doesn’t get more boring than the Brooklyn Nets hiring Jacque Vaughn to be their new Head Coach.

After Steve Nash, who never should have been brought back this season to begin with, and the Brooklyn Nets agreed to part ways last week, rumors immediately began circulating that owner Joe Tsai wanted to replace Nash with current suspended Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka.

It’s one thing to erroneously add water to a grease fire, like the Nets did when they traded for Ben Simmons. It’s another thing to try and put out a grease fire with a completely separate grease fire.

Ime Udoka is suspended for an entire season for allegedly carrying on a drama-filled affair with the spouse of someone else in the organization, with the added bonus of the affair also being with a subordinate. The rumors of Udoka’s willingness to leave the Celtics might not have been a surprise to anyone that cringes at the thought having people that were caught up in what Jada Pinkett-Smith would call “an entanglement” having to be in an office together, but the Celtics players were definitely caught off guard, and Udoka not getting the Nets job adds another level of drama to what’s going on in Boston.

While Udoka would have been a home run hire on the basketball end, between his personal life, Kyrie Irving’s personal beliefs, Ben Simmons’ personal vendetta against shooting the basketball, and Kevin Durant’s personality online, there might have been one too many issues to overcome.

Enter Jacque Vaughn- the most boring, but dependable, hire the Brooklyn Nets could have made. 

Jacque Vaughn was a steady and solid point guard at Kansas that benefited from having several first round picks around him, like Scot Pollard, Greg Ostertag, Raef LaFrentz and Paul Pierce. Despite never averaging more than 11 points and 7 assists per game in college, he was able to put together a 12-year NBA career.

The NBA has a long history of decent role playing guards with a solid college pedigree going on to be championship coaches. The obvious ones are Pat Riley and Steve Kerr, but you also have Rick Carlisle, Ty Lue and Doc Rivers. 

There’s something about guys that get the absolute most out of their talent as players that have the ability to unlock the same trait in others. That’s not to say that Steve Nash didn’t maximize his talent, he went from Santa Clara to winning multiple NBA MVP’s. But Nash was a star in college, and a lottery pick for a reason. He had elite base-level talent. We can’t just be saying that every good thing a white player accomplishes in this league is due to hard work.

But let’s get back to talking about the guy that ironically ended Steve Nash’s college career by holding him to 1/11 shooting in the 1996 NCAA Tournament, Jacque Vaughn.

Not only does Vaughn have the credibility of pushing himself past the limit of what he should have been able to accomplish in the NBA, he also has the credibility of having gone up against both Michael Jordan and LeBron James in separate NBA finals. How many coaches can say that?

Vaughn has both played in a playoff game as a member of the Nets, as well as coached the Nets in the 2020 playoffs after Kenny Atkinson resigned. He’s been around as a Nets assistant for the last seven years, so if anyone is aware of all the issues facing this franchise, it’s gotta be him. 

Sure, Jacque Vaughn’s first go-round as a head coach was a disaster, but he was in his mid-30’s and trying to make an Orlando Magic team relevant that had Aaron Affalo as one of its best players. Not even Phil Jackson would have had a chance down there. 

Sometimes it takes a coach getting an early shot and failing to find their footing. Just look at what Monty Williams has been able to do in Phoenix after flaming out in New Orleans.

The Nets have arguably the most talented starting five in the East, and have obviously been missing a focused, steadfast, diligent locker room voice to channel that talent into wins on the court. 

I’m not saying Jacque Vaughn is going to win this team a title, but now that his point guard’s suspension is coming to an end, if he can get Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and Ben Simmons all rowing in the same direction, he’ll have worked a basketball miracle and earned himself the respect that he’s long deserved. 

Let that sink in. 

Kyrie Irving’s Suspension Is Ending, But We Still Need an Explanation For Its Length

It might be coming to an end, but we still need to talk about the length of Kyrie Irving’s suspension.

On November 3rd, Kyrie Irving was given a suspension of a minimum of five games. He missed

The reason for the suspension is that he had posted a link to a documentary that made the case that African Americans were of Hebrew heritage, and that the reason that’s not common knowledge is that there has been a century’s long cover-up that includes exaggerating the Holocaust. 

It was definitely something that Kyrie Irving needed to clarify, and when given the opportunity, it became clear to any honest observer that the only information that Kyrie had retained from this so-called documentary is the overall concept of black people in America having a much richer history than just being the descendants of slaves, and that he felt no need to apologize.

I’ve talked before about the factors that make people like Kyrie Irving search for meaning in their ancestry, and even got into the fact that as an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, there are millions of white Americans that actually do believe that the Book of Mormon teaches Irving’s heritage goes back to lost Israelite tribes. 

The backlash has never been about whether anyone believes they have Ancient Hebrew Heritage. The backlash was about whether Kyrie believed the anti-Semitic tropes presented by the film, and whether there has been a Jewish conspiracy to keep black people down.

That particular unanswered question might have justified Kyrie’s initial suspension, but Nets owner Joe Tsai said that he’s met with Kyrie and his family, and that ” it’s clear… that Kyrie does not have any beliefs of hate towards Jewish people or any group.”

Well if it’s so clear, why wasn’t Kyrie Irving back on the court right away?

According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, “Whether or not Kyrie Irving is antisemitic is not relevant to the damage caused by the posting of hateful content.”

Maybe Adam Silver is right here, but his own track record in this area makes Kyrie’s continued suspension at the hands of the Nets seem rather excessive. 

Back in 2011, the NBA dropped a $100,000 hammer on Kobe Bryant for shouting a gay slur at at a referee. Kobe was allowed to apologize and make it clear that what he said was not a reflection of his feelings toward the gay community. David Stern was commissioner at the time. 

After Adam Silver took over as commissioner, Rajon Rondo did the same thing, calling a referee a gay slur in a much more aggressive manner. That official responded by publicly coming out of the closet as gay in an effort to help NBA players realize the impact of their words. And on top of that, Rajon Rondo lied about what he said, and only apologized on Twitter after witnesses and video review showed that Rondo was lying. 

Rondo received a one-game suspension amounting to an $86,000 fine. 

Kyrie is seven games and almost $500,000 deep in fines, has offered another $500,000 to the anti-defamation league, and is going to lose out on tens of millions of dollars in Nike endorsement deals

And in the words of Joe Tsai, does not hate Jewish people OR ANY GROUP.

The suspension was objectively excessive. It was historically excessive. And at the end of the day, it’s all because Kyrie Irving watched a documentary that it’s extremely clear he didn’t comprehend, and posted a link to it without context. 

Look, if a baseball pitcher posted a link to a place where he bought a “I love the KKK” t-shirt, we’d all be demanding answers. But if the answer was earnestly that he’s not racist, but instead that he’s just a little bit dumb and thought the K’s stood for strikeouts, how much punishment would be necessary before he was allowed to take the mound again?

The longer this suspension went on, the more backlash Adam Silver and Joe Tsai are risked. LeBron James has already called for Kyrie Irving’s reinstatement. NBPA president Jaylen Brown has taken it a step further, publicly blasting Nike and pointing out that Joe Tsai’s investment in companies that supply China with the technological means to spy on, and ultimately persecute, it’s Uygher Muslim population.

Influential players being willing to take on both of the NBA’s traditionally bulletproof untouchables- Nike and China, to get Kyrie Irving back on the court, is something I guarantee no one has a plan to handle.

It’s as simple as this- once it was determined that the comments cam from a place of ignorance and not malice, they should have immediately let Kyrie play, and do the work of learning about the very real history of the persecution of the Jewish people while on the court. 

Let that sink in.

10/8/21 Wrighster or Wrong: Kyrie Irving for Ben Simmons? Stafford no better than Goff? Spooky Season Cinema and More

Wrighster or Wrong

On this episode of WRIGHSTER OR WRONG, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden try to kill two problems with one solution by weighing the merits of a Kyrie Irving for Ben Simmons swap. Next, the guys debate whether the risk the LA Rams made in trading Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford is going to be worth it in the long run. George says they’re the same-level player, while Ralph tries to point out the real difference isn’t a surface statistic. Since it’s Spooky season, George and Ralph get into what type of horror movies they do and do not like. Finally, Meghan Trainor has kicked off a national conversation about the bathroom habits of couples, and the guys weigh in on their public pooping positions.

Click any of the following links to listen to Wrighster or Wrong on your preferred Podcast platform

iHeart // Apple Podcasts // Spotify // Stitcher // Radio Public // Google Podcasts

Have a take you’d like us to address? Email us at immad@unafraidshow.com and we’ll read your take on a future Wrighster or Wrong podcast.

9/27/21 NFL Weekend, NBA Vaccination Disputes, Violence in the Pac-12, Spencer Rattler Boo’d

Wrighster or Wrong

On this episode of WRIGHSTER OR WRONG, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden discuss their favorite storylines from week 3 of the NFL season. A discussion about the Rolling Stone article about NBA Player hesitancy toward Covid-19 vaccination somehow leads to an argument over Rolling Stone’s relevance as a band. George talks about the violence at house parties in Pullman, Washington and Salt Lake City, Utah that left one Pac-12 player in serious condition, and claimed the life of another. In Cancel or Consequence, the guys discuss Oklahoma fans booing QB Spencer Rattler and calling for his backup in the middle of what was Rattler’s 12th consecutive win as the Sooners’ starter. Finally, in Best of Social Media, the guys talk about what they would expect from an NBA player if they found his wallet, and their reactions toward Oregon Head Coach Mario Cristobal lighting up one of his players for a penalty.

Click any of the following links to listen to Wrighster or Wrong on your preferred Podcast platform

iHeart // Apple Podcasts // Spotify // Stitcher // Radio Public // Google Podcasts

Have a take you’d like us to address? Email us at immad@unafraidshow.com and we’ll read your take on a future Wrighster or Wrong podcast.

9/24/21 Wrighster or Wrong: NFL Playoff Changes, NIL Concerns, NBA Vaccine Rebellion, Fixing USC, Arizona Audit

Wrighster or Wrong 9-24

On this episode of WRIGHSTER OR WRONG, George Wrighster and Ralph Amsden discuss the expanded NFL Playoff format- has the league become too greedy? Also, George worries that some of the money available to college players through Name, Image and Likeness might be affecting their approach on the field. Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins are rumored to be willing to pay a hefty penalty for not getting the Covid-19 vaccine, and Ralph actually applauds them for putting their money where their mouth is. Bruce Feldman wrote an article in The Athletic that made USC’s problems seem even bigger than previously thought, so what can the Trojans do to fix all that is broken? In politics, the guys discuss the results of the 2020 Arizona election recount, and get into the murder rate statistics that are being used as a disingenuous way to paint protestors against police misconduct as the reason more lives are being lost. Finally, the Best of Social Media, including a highlight and a lowlight from Appalachian State football’s 31-30 win over Marshall.

Click any of the following links to listen to Wrighster or Wrong on your preferred Podcast platform

iHeart // Apple Podcasts // Spotify // Stitcher // Radio Public // Google Podcasts

Have a take you’d like us to address? Email us at immad@unafraidshow.com and we’ll read your take on a future Wrighster or Wrong podcast.

The Brooklyn Nets Have A Big Problem

Brooklyn Nets

After the Brooklyn Nets traded for James Harden, they cemented themselves as the most talented team in the East. Adding Harden to a team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving seems like an NBA 2K cheat code.

Things got off to a promising start when Harden posted a 30-point triple-double in his debut, finishing the game with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists. KD chipped in 42 points to beat the Magic, 122-115. The duo then followed it up by combining for 64 points in a 125-123 win over the Bucks.

The biggest elephant in the room is not Kyrie. Despite what transpired with Kyrie off the court, from missing games to partying without a mask, his talent speaks for itself on the court. The Nets are more talented with Kyrie than they are without Kyrie.

The Nets’ problem is not Kyrie. The problem lies down low. They have serious issues in the frontcourt.

The Nets became a better team with the addition of James Harden. However, it came at a price. It’s similar to Thanos’s situation in the soul realm after snapping his fingers to wipe out half the population.

For the Nets, Gamora is Jarrett Allen, the talented center the Nets traded to the Cavs in the Harden deal. Allen is a true throwback center. Allen is a great rebounder (10.5 per game), a true rim-protector (seventh in the NBA with 1.8 blocks per game), and a stout defender. He was the perfect complement to Durant and Kyrie because he wasn’t going to take away any of their shots. Plus, he can clean up and score at the rim.

It’s funny how things fall into place as Allen’s first game as a Cav came against his former team. Allen had 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 4 blocks in a 147-135 2OT win over the Nets.

The Nets may not be able to stop a nosebleed with their current roster. Deandre Jordan, who must start now with Allen gone, is a shell of his Lob City self. Jordan is the only true center on the roster. The backup center, Nicolas Claxton (in my best Snoop Dogg voice, “Who?“), is hurt. They desperately need more big men.

After every single move the Nets make, they need to ask themselves this question. Can this team beat the Lakers? Right now, the answer is no. The Nets Big Three will put up points, but who is going to guard Anthony Davis? If Deandre Jordan and Nicolas Claxton guard Davis in a series, AD is putting up 40 and 20 every night.

The Nets are trying to add frontcourt depth. They recently signed Norvel Pelle to a deal. Once again, it still doesn’t answer the question as to who stops Anthony Davis. The Nets will be buyers at the trade deadline and buy out the market. Potential names of interest could be Bismack Biyombo, Ed Davis, or PJ Tucker.

A small ball five of KD, Kyrie, Harden, Joe Harris, and Jeff Green can win games. Heck, it can even win the East. However, it’s not beating the Lakers in a 7-game series.

The Nets need to address their front court before it becomes a big problem in the playoffs.

Will the Nets win the NBA Title? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us, @unafraidshow.

Ranking the NBA Superstar Duos for the 2019-20 NBA Season

NBA Superstar Duos 2019-20 season

The NBA Superteam Era is dead. Kawhi Leonard made sure of this when he dismantled the Golden State Warriors and rejected Lebron James’ attempts to lure him to the Los Angeles Lakers. The landscape has shifted to “Super Duos,” with players now desiring to team up with friends or individuals who complement their skills and can share superstar duties. Here’s a look at the NBA’s best “Superstar Duos” heading into the 2019-20 NBA Season:

Tier 3 – The “Up and Comers” NBA Player Duos

12. Devin Booker / Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)

In their first season together, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton led the Phoenix Suns to 19 wins. The Los Angeles Lakers went 31-19 when Kobe joined Shaq in the starting lineup during the 1998-99 lockout-shortened season. Though Booker and Ayton aren’t quite “Shaq and Kobe 2.0” status, both are extremely talented individuals who should create a formidable inside-outside combination for years to come. With a full year under their belt and improvement at the head coaching position, the 2019-20 NBA Season should bring improved chemistry and many more wins.

11. Luka Doncic / Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas Mavericks)

Dallas Mavericks NBA Superstar Duos
Luka Doncic
Credit: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)

Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis haven’t played a single game together but are already expected to form the best pick and pop tandem in the league. Porzingis has spent the entirety of his Dallas Mavericks’ career admiring the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year, but the “Unicorn” will need to make an immediate impression if the Mavericks hope to make an impact in the Western Conference. This duo’s success depends on how well Porzingis recovers from a torn ACL that will have sidelined him for close to 20 months once the 2019 NBA Season begins. Charles Barkley expects this pair to turn into the greatest “one-two punch… for the next 10 years.”

Tier 2 – The “Star” NBA Duos

10. Giannis Antetokounmpo / Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)

Despite being selected to the 2019 Eastern Conference All-Star team, many still aren’t sold on Khris Middleton as a max player. This pair’s position is propped by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s supernova athletic ability. But Middleton’s capability as a three-point shooter (career 39%) carries great value when paired with Antetokounmpo’s slashing playmaking. Middleton contributes in a number of ways and is the perfect teammate for Antetokounmpo’s needs.

9. Donovan Mitchell / Mike Conley Jr. (Utah Jazz)

Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley Jr. are no “Stockton and Malone,” but the two have the opportunity to create their own legacy as the next great Utah Jazz duo. Conley’s experience with the “Grit and Grind” Memphis Grizzlies will be vital in helping Donovan Mitchell take the next leap in a competitive Western Conference.

8. Damian Lillard / CJ McCollum (Portland Trail Blazers)

The 2019-20 NBA Season may be the last time we see this version of the Portland Trail Blazers. Though they reached the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors made quick work of the Blazers in 4 games. Damian Lillard recently signed a 4 year / $191 Million supermax extension and CJ McCollum is entering the penultimate season of his rookie extension. If this duo is unable to take another step in a much more open NBA landscape, 2019-20 may be the last season they share duties in the Blazers backcourt.

7. Nikola Jokic / Jamal Murray (Denver Nuggets)

Nikola Jokic is a perennial MVP candidate and Jamal Murray has shown consistent improvement throughout his first three years in the league. Denver Nuggets’ Coach Mike Malone has described this twosome’s chemistry as “almost romantic” in describing the ways this pairing plays off each other in their uniquely styled offense. The top pairing under-25, this dynamic duo has the potential to keep the Denver Nuggets atop the Western Conference for years to come.

6. Joel Embiid / Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers)

This is the rare combination in which the big man has the better outside game that his perimeter counterpart. In order for this duo to take the next step into the tier below, Ben Simmons will need to make a significant improvement to (or at least develop) his jump shot to help create spacing for Joel Embiid down low. The 76ers are primed to be the best team in the Eastern Conference for years to come, but such success hinges on how Embiid and Simmons are able to harmonize on the hardwood.

Tier 1 – The “Elite” NBA Superstar Duos

5. James Harden / Russell Westbrook (Houston Rockets)

News of this trade sent social media in a whirlwind, with many asking the same question: is one ball enough? A lot has changed since James Harden and Russell Westbrook played together in Oklahoma City; Harden has blossomed from a mini-bearded Sixth Man of The Year, while Westbrook has grown accustomed to leading-man duties. But you don’t pass up on pairing two MVPs in their prime. While this fit may be questionable, the sheer talent of this NBA superstar duo alone is worth the gamble.

4. Kevin Durant / Kyrie Irving (Brooklyn Nets)

Kevin Durant Kyrie Irving NBA Superstar Duos

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving had been plotting to team up since 2018. Unfortunately, they may have to wait to see their dream come to fruition while Kevin Durant rehabs from a torn Achilles suffered in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. Durant and Irving have reached the pinnacle of success while playing roles in other legendary duos. With the Brooklyn Nets now the forefront of New York basketball, this duo will have the chance to cement their place in basketball lore by bringing an NBA Championship to the Big Apple.

3. Steph Curry / Klay Thompson (Golden State Warriors)

The 2019-20 NBA Season will be a gap year for the “Splash Brothers.” With Klay Thompson recovering from a torn ACL that should sideline him for the majority of the season, Steph Curry will be left to man the ship with his temporary replacement, D’Angelo Russell. Despite Thompson’s injury, this duo’s success should place them above every other combination on this list; however, the moves that took place this offseason have this Warriors’ combo embracing their newfound underdog role.

2. Lebron James / Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)

1. Kawhi Leonard / Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)

NBA Best players Lakers and Clipper
Credit: Clutchpoints Podcast

The Los Angeles “Superstar Duos” is the result of blockbuster moves each team made this offseason. The Lakers paired two top-five players by acquiring Anthony Davis to team up with Lebron James. But the Clippers’ one-upped their in-town rival by signing two-time NBA finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, who has staked his claim as the best player in the league. And with his recruitment of Paul George, Leonard paired himself with an elite superstar who has no problem taking control of both ends of the floor. All roads now run through the Staples Center and the battle for Los Angeles is to sure to result in many “epic” matchups between these two for years to come.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram @alanwilmotlaw

Let’s Face The Facts: NBA Superstars Are Underpaid

NBA Superstars Underpaid with the salary cap

Though the above is a live look of the New Orleans Pelicans ticket staffers learning their team won the 2019 NBA Draft lottery and right to draft Zion Williamson, it’s safe to say the Brooklyn Nets sales team experienced this same joy at the start of NBA Free Agency. The signing of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving signifies a coming of age story for the Nets and the end of an era for their crosstown rival. Once heralded as the “Mecca” of basketball, the aura that surrounded Madison Square Garden is gone. New York Knicks’ owner James Dolan was reportedly hesitant to sign Kevin Durant to a maximum deal. But if your team’s president has to release a statement responding to angry fans, that’s clearly not the correct business decision.

NBA Star Market Value

NBA Superstars Drive Revenue

People pay to see stars, and teams know it. Immediately after signing the two-all stars, an all-out race for Nets season tickets ensued. Currently, the cheapest ticket available is $4,000 a seat, which is quite an expense for a team that won a total of 48 games prior to the 2018-2019 NBA Season.

NBA stars do more than put fans in the seats; they serve as an economic catalyst for all other aspects of their team’s city. When Lebron James announced his “Decision” in 2010, not only did he take his talents to South Beach, but also $48 million in annual revenue. When James re-signed with Cleveland in 2014, Professor Leroy Brooks estimated his return added nearly $500 million to the local economy. The Cavaliers suffered another negative swing when Lebron moved west to the Los Angeles Lakers.

NBA teams lack profitability and marketability without a star player. Fans routinely discuss how players aren’t worth a certain contract. When Kobe Bryant became the league’s highest-paid player in 2014, he did so to show players should not feel forced to take less than their worth and stated:

“Athletes are the ones that are in the public eye the most. And so their salaries are constantly talked about, so it’s very easy to look at the athlete and say, ‘You should be doing more and you should be taking less,’ when the reality is that your market value is so much higher than what people understand.

” ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, but you still should be taking less to win. Why do we have to do that? Because the owners locked us out and imposed a hard cap where we ‘have to’ take less in order for them to generate more revenue. Right? But meanwhile, they go and sign a TV deal that’s a billion dollars up from the last one, but that doesn’t get talked about. Nobody complains about that.”

Credit: CBS Sports

Maximum Value Under The NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement

Credit: Larry Coon / CBA FAQ

Maximum salaries are the product of the 1998-1999 NBA lockout initiated by owners who feared player salaries were getting out of control. After the Minnesota Timberwolves gave 21-year old Kevin Garnett an extension worth six years, $126 million, billionaire owners decided they couldn’t “have the inmates running the prison.”

Now, maximum salaries are dependent on the player’s years of services. In a truly open market, superstar players such as Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, Stephy Curry, Joel Embiid, and Anthony Davis would be worth at least $75 Million. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, Russell Westbrook, and Nikola Jokic would easily pull in contracts worth $50 million to $60 million per year. Hell, Zion Williamson is on the verge of signing a $100 million shoe deal; it makes no sense that his perceived NBA value is $45 million over four years.

Despite the league’s continued growth, it’s unlikely that the cap will rise to a level that will allow players to receive their true worth. While it may be hard to quantify the value a superstar brings, one method would be to allow teams the ability to sign a player outside of cap space. Instead of retiring jerseys, if owners truly want to show their appreciation, this is the route they should take. Then, the future Lebrons, Durants, and Antetokounmpos would be able to live in the world Kobe hoped to create for his fellow stars.

Follow Alan Wilmot on Twitter and Instagram @alanwilmotlaw

NBA Free Agency Contracts Show How Broken the Current NBA CBA is

NBA Free Agency Kawhi Leonard Kevin Durant Khris Middleton

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…

Khris Middleton. 

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. 

Brooklyn’s Finest: Kevin Durant And Kyrie Irving Sign With The Nets

Kyrie Irving Kevin Durant Brooklyn Nets NBA

Brooklyn, stand up. You just pulled off the heist of the summer. Kevin Durant was expected to take meetings throughout the next couple of days and then make a decision on his next NBA team. That didn’t happen. On his sports business network, The Boardroom, Durant announced that he would be signing with the Brooklyn Nets on the first day of NBA Free Agency.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BzWZV18lRxx/

For Nets fans, it gets better. Kyrie Irving is also signing with the Nets.

Brooklyn did the damn thing. Knicks, who? Six years ago, the Nets made arguably the worst trade in NBA history when they traded an abundance of players and 1st round picks for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. In six years, the Nets were able to erase their mistake and build a franchise that is set to make a run at a championship in the next few years. Sean Marks, the GM of the Nets, should have a statue of himself outside the Barclays Center.

Although many teams and fans (myself included) prefer their teams to tank, Brooklyn did the complete opposite. The Nets hired a coach, Kenny Atkinson, who was capable of building young talent and inspiring players to reach their full potential. The Nets took a chance on D’Angelo Russell, who after being run out of LA, showed his true potential by making the All-star game last season. With a young and inexperienced roster, the Nets won over 40 games and made the playoffs.

Now, the Nets signed two superstars that will allow them to take the next step towards a championship. If Kawhi Leonard leaves for Los Angeles, the East will once again be wide open. Milwaukee and Philly would be the favorites, but the Nets and Raptors would not be far off. The Nets should compete for a playoff spot this year with Kyrie and then when KD comes back in 2020, the Nets should be the favorite to make the NBA Finals.

Where Brooklyn at? Well, they’re going to be at the top of the Eastern Conference and maybe the entire NBA in a few seasons. Better days are ahead for the Brooklyn Nets.