NBA players are making more money today than at any time in league history. But LeBron James still isn’t satisfied.
Warriors star Steph Curry agreed to terms on a five-year, $201 million “super max” contract at the start of free agency early Saturday morning. It is the richest deal of all time. James, though, believes Curry is underpaid, and he voiced his opinion on Twitter Saturday afternoon in response to a post from San Francisco Chronicle columnist Ann Killion.
In her tweet, Killion noted how the Warriors have grown in value from $450 million to $2.6 billion since owner Joe Lacob purchased the franchise in 2010. That rise has coincided with Curry’s two MVPs and two championships, and one could make the case that Curry is actually worth more than the $40.2 million per year he’s due to make, based on that increase in franchise value.
“So tell me again why there’s a cap on how much a player should get?? Don’t answer that,” James tweeted. “Steph should be getting 400M this summer 5yrs. #JMTs”
JMTs stands for “Just My Thoughts.”
James is the first vice president of the NBA Players’ Association. His good friend Chris Paul is the president of the Players’ Association. Both agreed to the terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement, which dictates every policy detail when it comes to the salary cap and max contract figures. The newest version of the CBA went into effect Saturday. So in theory, James would have been better served making this argument at the negotiating table.
But the three-time NBA champion nonetheless makes an important point. Even with the gargantuan contracts and increasing salary cap — the result of lucrative television deals — some of the game’s elite players are still underpaid, missing out on money they are bringing in through their entertaining play. Fans are buying tickets to games and purchasing apparel because of the players, and they should ultimately see a proper share of that revenue.
However, the salary cap also functions as a mechanism to facilitate a fairer playing field among large and small market teams. Without a salary cap, as James is suggesting, teams that play in bigger markets will have the chance to outspend smaller market teams to a greater extent than they already do.
The current CBA will remain in place until at least 2022-23. We’ll see if James can make the changes he desires in the next round of negotiations.