LeBron James third highest earning athlete in America

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LeBron James shouldn’t flaunt that after he loses in the NBA finals he goes back to living a charmed life and we go back to our lives… but the dude is raking it in.

According to Sports Illustrated, LeBron is the third highest earning athlete in the United States in 2011. Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson topped the list (Tiger still made $60 million in endorsements this year… damn).

LeBron made $14.5 million in salary and $30 million in endorsements, according to Forbes. LeBron’s endorsement money is only likely to go up in future years, especially if he can win a ring.

Other NBA players on the list: Kobe Bryant (No. 6 at $34.8 million), Kevin Garnett (No. 7 at $32.8 million), Dwight Howard (No. 10 at $28.7 million), Dwyane Wade (No. 11 at $28.2 million), Amar’e Stoudemire (No. 16 at $24.5 million), Carmelo Anthony (No. 21 at $23.5 million), Tim Duncan (No. 24 at $22.3 million), Vince Carter (No. 27 at $20.5 million), Rashard Lewis (No. 29 at $20.3 million), Kevin Durant (No. 31 at $20.1 million), Michael Redd (No 34 at $18.6 million), Gilbert Arenas (No. 36 at $18 million), Zach Randolph (No. 37 at $17.8 million), Kenyon Martin (No. 40 at $16.8 million), Joe Johnson (No. 43 at $16.6 million), Elton Brand (No. 45 at $16.6 million), Paul Pierce (No. 49 at $15.7 million) and Chris Bosh (No. 50 at $15.5 million).

Which says a couple things about the NBA and the ongoing Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

First, there are a lot of NBA players on that list — 19 of them, 38 percent of the list was from the NBA. That was more than any other sport (16 from Major League Baseball, nine from the NFL). On one hand this plays into the owners’ arguments that NBA players are making more than their counterparts and salaries need to be rolled back, contract lengths shortened.

Look at some of the names on the list — Gilbert Arenas, Vince Carter, Kenyon Martin, Rashard Lewis — guys who cannot produce at that level anymore.

But this also shows that what the owners really want in this CBA is a system to protect them from themselves. Who gave out these ridiculous contracts? The Hawks just put Joe Johnson on that list and he will be there for the next five years as well — how is the player to blame for this? Why should an owner who makes a bad contract decision just have a “get out of jail free” card?

The thing is LeBron, Kobe, Garnett, Howard, Stoudemire and the guys at the very top are a bargain — what they generate for the team in terms of ticket sales, television ratings, jersey sales and the like far outweigh what they are paid from their teams. What hurts the owners (aside no revenue sharing to speak of) is bad contracts and overpaying the middle class of players. And that’s reflected on this list as much as great players.

LaVar Ball confronts wrestler at WWE event (video)

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — LaVar Ball has brought his Big Baller Brand from the basketball court to the wrestling ring.

The outspoken father of NBA draft No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball showed up with the newly minted Los Angeles Laker and another son, 15-year-old LaMelo, for a live segment on Monday’s “WWE Raw” at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

During the segment, LaMelo Ball twice used the n-word, which was broadcast over the air. WWE says in a statement to the Los Angeles Times that the language “was not scripted nor reflects WWE’s values.”

For LaVar Ball’s appearance, the ring was decorated with mannequins displaying his Big Baller Brand clothing line. He got in a heated confrontation with WWE wrestler The Miz, and took his shirt off to cheers from the crowd.

Bulls, with Michael Carter-Williams, first team to decline extending qualifying offer to Rookie of the Year

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Just four years ago, Michael Carter-Williams won Rookie of the Year.

Now, the Bulls don’t even see a $4,187,599 qualifying offer as worth extending.

David Kaplan of CSN Chicago:

Credit Sam Hinkie for trading Carter-Williams (to the Bucks) at just the right moment, netting the 76ers a valuable Lakers first-round pick that Philadelphia used to trade up for Markelle Fultz. Carter-Williams hasn’t nearly lived up to the typical production of a former Rookie of the Year.

The Bulls got Carter-Williams far cheaper from Milwaukee, for Tony Snell (who had a breakout year with the Bucks). But Carter-Williams continued to regress in Chicago. It’s just hard for a point guard with such a shaky outside shot, and Carter-Williams’ injuries haven’t helped.

With a smorgasbord of point guards that now includes Kris Dunn and Cameron Payne, the Bulls can move on.

Carter-Williams can probably latch on as a backup point guard somewhere. As an unrestricted free agent, teams will have greater comfort pursuing him. But this is a blow for someone with such a big accolade on his résumé.

Celtics’ reported plan: Sign Gordon Hayward, trade for Paul George

AP Photo/George Frey
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The Celtics are trying to sign Gordon Hayward.

They want to trade for Paul George.

It seems those goals are not mutually exclusive.

Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports:

The Boston Celtics are pursuing an aggressive summer plan of sequencing the signing of free agent Gordon Hayward and relinquishing the assets needed to complete a trade for Paul George, league sources told The Vertical.

For salary-cap purposes, Boston wants a Hayward commitment before it can finalize a trade for George and secure the most dynamic free-agent coup in franchise history, league sources said.

For Boston, here’s the hitch: While Indiana believes Boston can offer the best possible package, the Pacers may be unwilling to wait until the start of July free agency on Boston’s timetable and could turn toward making a deal elsewhere for George, league sources told The Vertical.

The Celtics can clear cap space to sign Hayward. They have the ammo to trade for George. They could do both.

But, as covered before, there’s probably not a path to signing Hayward and extending George’s contract.

So, how much would Boston surrender for George on an expiring contract? The risk he walks in a year, particularly for the Lakers, should lower the Celtics’ offer.

Still, Boston could trade for the Pacers star and roll the dice on re-signing him. Playing with Hayward – and Isaiah Thomas and whichever other players the Celtics keep in this arrangement – would be pretty appealing.

Rumor: LeBron James would ‘never’ join Clippers

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The Clippers hired Jerry West, in part, to help lure LeBron James.

But even with LeBron-to-Los Angeles (Clippers or Lakers) rumors swirling, that plan might not even get off the ground.

Mike Wise of The Undefeated on Freddie and Fritz:

I’m going to give you something on this show, and this is breaking news. Nobody else is going to have it.

I got from a very good authority – a very good authority – that LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I can’t tell you who, but I’m going to tell you it’s somebody that knows, and LeBron James will never be a Clipper. I don’t know if that’s because he remembers what the Clippers used to be, or he just doesn’t want to put his lot in there, or he thinks Steve Ballmer is just too animated on the sideline.

He’s never going to be a Clipper. I’m just telling people right now, for your edification. I’m breaking this on the Freddie Coleman and Fitz show.

I don’t believe in “never” in situations like this. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, teams are just laundry. The Clippers can change owners, general managers, coaches, players. LeBron would remain absolutely opposed to joining?

Maybe, but I won’t go that far without knowing his reason for resisting the Clippers. A lot can change between now and 2018, when LeBron can opt out.

One of the Clippers’ biggest selling points was always going to be Chris Paul, LeBron’s close friend. Reading the tea leaves, maybe this is a sign Paul will leave this summer – for the Spurs, Rockets or somewhere else.