LeBron James says Stephen Curry is underpaid

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Stephen Curry is about to sign the richest contract in NBA history: Five-years, $201 million. Fully guaranteed. It’s the maximum any team can play any player under the new CBA.

That’s not enough.

Not if you ask LeBron James.

Notice that while the Cavaliers stumble around without a permanent GM/head of basketball operations, LeBron is on Twitter applauding guys getting paid big bucks. Just file that away for later.

LeBron’s argument has been around for a while, and not shockingly it’s the guys at the top of the NBA food chain who promote it. He’s also not wrong: max salary caps do put a clear ceiling on the upper part of the market. If the NBA really wants to do away with players pairing up for “super teams,” then keep the salary cap structure but do away with maximum contract limits. What is Stephen Curry worth on a pure open market? $50 million a year? $75 million? That’s more of his fair market value in terms of what he brings in with ticket sales/sponsorships/increased franchise value. Whatever it is, the Warriors couldn’t pay him and Kevin Durant, not to mention Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Also, you might imagine why LeBron thinks no max contracts are a good idea.

Another area where LeBron has a point: NBA owners talk about profits and losses but have a variety of ways to move around income (if they own the building they play in creates all sorts of opportunities), and they never discuss the increased valuation of a franchise. The owners like to see that as separate, the players do not see it that way.

It’s a fun discussion. Also, it will never happen. No max contracts would destroy the middle class in the NBA. There will be All-Star/All-NBA level players making $40+ million a year, a few next-tier guys making $15 million to $20 million, then a vast majority of guys at around the league minimum. LeBron may be okay with that, the majority of NBA players wouldn’t be. (What LeBron probably actually wants is a no-cap system. No way the owners go for that.)

While this conversation is going on, the Cavaliers are trying to dump Iman Shumpert so they can re-sign Kyle Korver and get some other role players.