LeBron James July 2014

It is the summer of LeBron right now as we enter the 2014 NBA Free Agency period. James is seeking a max contract to whatever team that pursues him, though he does prefer to stay with the Miami Heat.

An interesting tidbit was discussed from Yahoo Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, who talked about James' worth on the open market. Woj says that LeBron should be worth the max since he's the best player in the league.

However, Woj says if there was an open market in the NBA — such as no max contracts, luxury tax, salary cap (like the MLB) — James could be worth in the ballpark of $50-60 million. That is how much soccer stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo make with their respective teams.

Says Woj, via the Big Lead,

"I’m told it’s gonna be max, or close to max. … For me, he’s the best player in the league. He should be the highest paid player. I know nobody wants to hear it, and whatever they’re making is enough — I get that — but the star player in the NBA is the most underpaid star in pro sports. They fill arenas everywhere they go, they drive immense TV ratings, they make the difference between winning and losing unlike anyone in sports, except maybe a quarterback in football.

"The owners have to love that these guys all keep taking less instead of getting what the value should be for a star player. If we’re on an open market — with the owners in this league — LeBron would be worth $50-60 million per year."

Woj has a point for sure. James already makes about $60 million a year thanks to the extra $40 million in endorsements. However, he should definitely be worth way more than that.

Considering the NBA's worth increasing now over the years, such as when teams like the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers sell for $550 million and $2 billion respectively, an open market could work. Steve Ballmer used his $2 billion purchase as not an investment, but a "toy."

That just goes to show you how much these owners can be willing to spend. So yes, we could see LeBron getting a massive payday as such, but don't count on that happening. Teams like the Indiana Pacers, Sacramento Kings and others wouldn't exist with being small markets and not having big-name players.

It's an interesting take, though, for sure.


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