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Friday, September 30th, 2011 at 11:05 am  |  64 responses

Dwyane Wade: With No Salary Cap, NBA Stars Could Earn $50 Million a Year


DWade tells Yahoo! Sports that the League’s biggest superstars could earn up to $50 mil per season if there was no salary cap, but believe it or not, he might be short-changing them (and himself): “Nowhere in sports is the superstar more vital than basketball, because the ball’s forever in the star’s hands and a singular talent has the most transformational impact. Let owners bid on the true value the elite stars bring to a franchise, to the league, and Wade was asked where he believes the bidding would rise per season? ‘I’m sure it would get to $50 million,’ Wade [said]. He’s right, and there’s still a compelling case that it wouldn’t properly compensate what a Kobe Bryant, a LeBron James, even means far beyond his own team. Privately, Jerry Buss has told people that Bryant – who will make a league-high $25 million this season under his current contract terms – is worth perhaps $70 million a year to the Los Angeles Lakers. James has been the most prodigious talent – the compelling serial character – the sport’s manufactured. This list is short, but the impact is immense. This is the largely unspoken truism of labor talks: The superstars are wildly underpaid, and the largely interchangeable rank-and-file players make far too much money. ‘In terms of driving revenue, if the NBA had no cap, the compensation would be totally different,’ Wade said. ‘Like baseball, where they have no cap, you see the players that they feel fill arenas, that people come out to see, A-Rod, those kind of guys, look at how much money they make on their deals. You’ve got guys – starting with Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal, and Kobe and LeBron – all players that individually people wanted to come to see. And wanted to just have a glimpse, just one glimpse, to be able to say that I’ve seen that person play. For what they’ve done for the game, what they’ve done for organizations, I don’t think you can really put a dollar amount on it.’”

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  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Hit the nail right on the head. One of the big problems is guys like JJ, Lewis, Arenas, EBrand, and AJamison aka non-star players are making superstar money. Now, whose fault is that? We all know the answer.

  • MUBWAR

    it’s funny he doesn’t include himself in that list of Kobe James Jordan and Shaq. Stop being so humble Flash, you’re a finals MVP

  • Maya Binion

    With no owners making a profit, there is no NBA season. Until the players realize that, the labor talks will continue to stall. The owners lose less money by not having a season. The players lose everything. Superstars all talk about wanting to win championships, well you need the “rank and file” players in order to do that. Why on earth is D Wade talking about superstars deserving more money? As far as “what they have done for the game,” it is debatable whether those contributions have been positive or negative. The “game” is in pretty bad shape right now in the U.S. Last season, the NBA finally started making a comeback in popularity and watchability, and now there will be no season and they may be surprised to see fans go elsewhere if and when the NBA does return. BTW, NBA Players: Playing overseas isn’t the answer. All Deron Williams is doing is telling the Knicks that he is willing to play basketball for 5 million a year instead of the 16 million they are paying him. Enjoy the gymatoriums and bus rides over there, Deron.

  • Maya Binion

    Re: Deron Williams – Nets, not Knicks. Freudian slip.

  • GreenBall

    No! The problem with no salary cap would be that 4-5 teams would have the best 30 players in the L, cause some multi-billonaires would just pay them whatever was needed to attract them to their teams.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Baseball must be suffering then. Oh, wait……

  • Jesse

    @JTaylor21: the phillies and yankees are the favorites for the nl and al. they are also numbers 1 and 2 in total payroll. just saying.

  • http://Slamonline.com Caboose

    I wonder how badly the Nets want a “no-salary cap” rule. Like the Most Interesting Man in the World cares if he shells out $30 mil per year to 3 or 4 players.

  • http://fivemag.de Speedy

    The system is broke.
    Nobodies work is worth that much money. If it is in the financial sector, the companies or sports.
    Scale everything down and give families an affordable good time at the sportsarenas.(I’m dreaming)

  • johnson

    Joe needs to hurry up get finish his contract for this new no hard salary cap cuz we all know ATL gonna give it too himmm

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Jesse, Baseball is still popular despite having no salary cap or parity to speak of. One of the reasons why is because baseball team’s do a better job of scouting players and their minor league system. They don’t care if a player is the #1 overall pick and the franchise savior, they always start at the minor leagues and work their way up.
    The NBA on the other hand does a terrible job of scouting players especially overseas. They automatically go lose their minds when they see a 7-footer with a mid-range. The next thing you know he’s the 1st pick and a starter when he’s not even ready for speed and physicality of the pro game.
    Teams need to do a better job scouting players overall (rookies and free agents).

  • http://www.slamonline.com Jahmai

    He’s 100% right.

  • John Starks

    I dont like the Heat but hes absolutely right

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Baseball has a “little” something called revenue sharing that NBA owners will never agree to.

  • Jesse

    @JTaylor21: http://bottomlinesportsshow.wordpress.com/2010/02/18/2009-nfl-preseason-preview/ peep that. baseball on the whole isn’t nearly as popular as it once was.

  • bike

    Agree jtaylor. I have noticed that during the past 10 years, the nba seems to be doing a progressively poorer job of scouting players and I am not sure why that is. It could be an overly-optimistic perception of potential (often referred to as ‘upside’ by scouts) . A lot of emphasis is placed on ‘athletic ability’ which usually translates into a combination of strength, quickness, and leaping ability over sound fundamental basketball skills. I know a lot of people on this site will scream about a kid staying in college for two or three years versus going pro—and I don’t blame the kids for doing that—but sometimes it might pay the nba to adopt more of a wait and see how some of these kids do after two or three years at the college level. Drafting a player or signing a player to a new contract is a serious investment.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    NO JTaylor the reason Baseball can remain competitive even when all of the best players are in 4 cities is because Baseball, unlike Basketball can not be totally dominated by a couple players. And the difference between the best baseball player in the MLB and an average player is a much much much smaller gap then that of the best and average player in basketball. The system in basketball has to have a cap for the whole league to remain competitive. (Also in Baseball the best teams will win most consistently, which is why you see pretty much the same teams year after year in the playoffs, with only 2 or 3 teams not being there year in and year out)

  • http://smoakhill.wordpress.com Sam

    Wade is a hypocrite.

    Players like Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony have been selling out their arenas for years and years, yet have no hesitation to leave the franchises that drafted them in the dust and join teams that already have super stars who sell out the arenas.

    This is called WASTING POTENTIAL EARNERS. Four teams could be selling out their games and instead only two teams are. If Chris Paul leaves New Orleans via free agency and goes to play in New York, as some NY fans and writers are fantasizing about, you will be wasting TWO superstars drawing power.

    The super stars have too much leverage. The owners have no way to quickly recover from mistakes without killing their team for 3 years. All of these things are what is wrong with the NBA.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    I much rather have the NBA adopt something similar to MLB’s minor league system and get rid of that crap they call the “NBDL”. A place where you can send young players to develop even if the guy is a top draft pick but NBA owners and fans are too impatient when it comes to rookies. They want them to be great as soon as they step on the court and 8 out 10 times, that’s not happening.
    NBK, I hear you. That’s why I said “one of the reasons”. There are many reasons in play (revenue sharing, bigger draft, gap between great and average players and farm system) as to why the MLB is successful without a salary cap.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    JTaylor the problem IMO is how popular NCAA Basketball is. The main reason Minor League Baseball is successful is because the majority of people started out playin right out of high school. If NCAA D1 Men’s baseball were a national obession like college basketball is then I highly doubt the minor league baseball system would be as widespread as it is.

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    Baseball has a deeper connection with most Americans as a whole.
    That’s why the talent gap amongst teams is ok. Baseball will always have a loyal audience because it’s ingrained in our national psyche, and taking kids to a baseball game is part of an overall experience that parents want to pass along to their children. Like going to Disney World.
    That’s baseball’s protection. It doesn’t hurt that it’s demographics are more favorable than the NBA’s as far as the players.

  • http://smoakhill.wordpress.com Sam

    @JTaylor21

    There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of baseball prospects drafted every year.

    There are 60 basketball players drafted every year and it isn’t a guarantee that even 1 superstar will come out of each class. Better scouting? How many Lebron James and Dwayne Wades are really out there?

  • bull22

    i like to see wade create his own league with his own money and try to prove that point and be as successful as the NBA model… these dudes need a reality check. even MJ never made such dumb comments…

  • T-Money

    if there were a hard cap for team salaries and no cap on individual salaries, we’d really see what’s what. in a real free market, lebron and wade would be making 30 mil+ and the rest of miami would be sharing 10 million, with bosh taking 75% of that 10 mil.

  • bull22

    @jesse, true because losing a whole season back in 90′s cost them alot of fans, along with the steriod scandal….

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Jesse, of course MLB is not as popular as say in the 80s but every sport has dropped in popularity ever since the NFL’s immense rise as the most popular sport in the US. It’s hard to compete with a sport that has 100+ million people watching its championship game.
    What I don’t get is how come the NBA’s viewership is so low compared to the NFL when more people around the country play ball on a consistent basis compared to football. Even during the Magic/Bird/MJ era, way more people watched the Superbowl than the Finals. It baffles me still to this day.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    And just to show how many people get drafted out of high school, in my region (6 teams) between my senior and junior year, there were 13 players drafted by MLB (6 were on the same team). Only 5 or 6 of them actually took their contract the first time they were drafted.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    JTaylor, the NFL plays on sundays only, basketball (especially west coast basketball) takes place late late at night. — And the whole 16 game season thing is not a huge commitment to a fan, but 82 games is. Football is basically designed to be massively popular.

  • Jesse

    If this lockout ends up not being as bad as it seems it will be I could see the NBA with it’s current crop of talent [arguably the best ever] surpassing MLB in the US. Also you have to think about how global the NBA is these days. Just guessing but I’d like to think internationally the NBA is already bigger than the MLB. In terms of the NFL and it’s rise to the top american sport that’s a complicated issue, but I’ll at least say that just because people do something, like playing basketball, doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to watch others do it.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    NBK, I’m talking about playoffs and final’s viewership compared to the NFL’s playoffs and SB. I understand people not wanting to watch the grind of 82gms but the playoffs are a different story.
    I think it has something to do with demographics and the fact that most people (think) they could relate to NFL players more than they could to NBA players.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    OH I C, my bad. I think the whole concept of lose 1 and your out (just like the NCAA Basketball Tournament) is the key reason behind the popularity of NFL playoffs. As a fan your team either loses right away or wins, you get to relax or talk sh*t. YOu don’t have to sit there for a week and watch your team collapse in on itself (like the Lakers against the Mavericks).

  • izzo

    NBA superstars are underpaid the same way NBA owners are losing money.

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey

    nbk, I just wanted to add that single-elimination format provides more hope for fans of the pretenders to win it all. It’s easier to see the ’11 Seahawks winning it all than the ’11 Sixers.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    Good point Hue.

  • MikeC.

    @JTaylor & nbk – When it comes to Superbowl vs NBA playoffs, the popularity hinges on the fact that the Superbowl has been marketed as a major social event. One of you mentioned the time investment, which is easy to understand for a casual fan. The NBA playoffs are long (especially the 1st round). By the time the playoffs are over, I feel exhausted and burned out from watching all those late West Coast games. I do my best to watch them all, so I’m just plain tired when it’s over. Football playoffs are easier to get through as a fan. I don’t usually watch football unless I’m hanging with one or two of my friends that are into it. I don’t know the rules well enough to watch alone, and since I’ve never played, football doesn’t interest me that much. However, I am the casual fan that the NFL markets the playoffs and Superbowl to. I enjoy the social aspect of the Superbowl (getting wasted on a Sunday is part of the fun). I might not watch a single tick of regular season of playoff football, but you best believe I’m half in the bag by noon on Superbowl Sunday. As far as I can tell, about 80% of the people that watch football are like me. We have half a clue about what’s going on, but no real investment in the teams playing. When it comes to NBA action, I’m a basketcase. Stressing over whether or not Amare is going to crash the boards and play real D.

  • EJ

    No salary caps in soccer, and the players make less money than NBA players. You know why? Cause the owners aren’t as stupid.

  • http://cnbc.com JTaylor21

    Mike, you summed it up perfectly.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    Cosign JTaylor about MikeC.

  • http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/7021031/the-nets-nba-economics Allenp

    NBA stars could be paid more. But that would undercut their quests for championships. There are only so many mega stars, they are way more players below them. Why, as a second tier player or lower would you sign to play with a team where the mega star is eating up an immense portion of the salary cap and depressing your salary when you could instead sign for more money with another team that doesn’t have one of the precious few mega stars?
    You wouldn’t. Unlike football, the overall talent pool in the NBA is smaller and the individual impact of each player on the floor is greater. So, star would get more money, but less chances to play with premium talent, or each other. Why? Because every other athletes would be chasing the best possible pay day that would be elusive to discover. Somebody would of course win the championship, but you would see a lot more stars never even have a chance to compete regularly, just like you see in the NFl.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Damn, shots at the S-Hawks and the Lakers in a few comments. Ya’ll can go f*ck yoursleves!!! lol jk :)

  • http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop Allenp

    True Hoop examined this issue today. Click my name for the story. I said many of the same things over in the comments section on the story about the Carmelo rule.
    Salary caps protect owners from each other and depress the salaries of players overall, but particularly those who are not mega stars.
    The stiffer the cap, the more protection for the owners. And the more profits. They can’t trust each other, so instead they want to force the players to take on the onus of making that trust unnecessary.

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey

    @LakeShow, Facts is facts, not trying to bash them. I don’t follow football enough to give the best comparisons between the two sports but I reside in the Seattle area so I’m usually up-to-date on where they stand in the NFL’s hierarchy.

  • bike

    So, with all that has been said regarding the hard cap issue, what are the odds that a hard cap will indeed be what the player’s eventually cave to? It seems pretty obvious that Stern’s strategy is to tell the players in a roundabout way that the deal he is offering right now is the best they are going to get. If the season gets cancelled, Stern expects the players to eventually cave and come crawling back begging for their jobs. At which time, Stern will make an even crappier offer and take the lost revenues out of the players hide.

  • http://www.bulls.com Enigmatic

    Man, f*ck the Seahawks.
    Bunch of people up here in Alaska got it stuck in their heads that since Seattle is the closest city they must be Seahawks fans, even though Seattle is 1,400 miles away.
    Last week they had the Seahawks game up here instead of Chicago/Green Bay.
    I mean…really? They suck!

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    Sorry to get off topic, but imagine if the NBA went to a shorter season and single elimination style format for the playoffs like in football. I’d imagine the players would play so much harder.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    They already play hard (during the playoffs). Its not football your not going to get clobbered 100 times a game. There is a reason every professional sport but football plays series’ instead of single elimination tournaments

  • http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop Allenp

    Too many flukes in a single elimination game.

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey

    ^I agree

  • izzo

    nbk: By that, I’m sure you mean every ‘American sport’.

  • http://slamonline.com LakeShow

    Fu.ck you Enig.
    LA Huey, Where you reside exactly? If you don’t mind my asking.(not your address just what city) I know every street in a 50 mile Radius of Seattle.

  • http://sajkflf.com Jukai

    True, single elimination games are a bad idea… but I really liked the 3/5 first round. The first round is so god damn long that it’s often frustrating. Shorten it. 3/5 can cause flukes, but not to the point where you have to rid it entirely.

  • Marcus Bastos

    If basketball required only one player “per team”, D-Wade is right. But we all know that the reality is different. At least, LeBron knows it.

  • http://blogs.mercurynews.com/kawakami/2011/05/15/my-4th-annual-nba-no-defense-team-al-jefferson-monta-ellis-kobe-bryant-and-more/ nbk

    Yes izzo, my fault.

  • http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop Allenp

    Yeah, I preferred the five game first round, not these seven game stuff. More upsets in a five game series if the better team doesn’t come in with it’s mind right.

  • http://twitter.com/BeezKneezy LA Huey

    @Lakeshow, I live in Kirkland, for now. I’ve been hoping around on the Eastside since I moved up to the Pac-NW a decade ago.
    I miss the old 5-game 1st round series. More chance of an upset and if a team doesn’t stand a chance in the first place, the quicker they’re announced DOA.

  • http://www.twitter.com/dfrance21 dfrance21

    I think they should also shorten the season. Every team plays each other twice instead of playing teams in your conference 4 times. And why not make the first two rounds 3/5? The entire season does drag on too long, only the die hard fans can stay with it for the whole time.

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • http://slamonline.com nbk

    $$$$$$$$

  • seriousblack

    It isn’t just the hard cap that the players balk at. The owners want a 5% reduction on every salary for this upcoming season, and a bigger reduction for the next two on contracts ALREADY signed. The owners are disgustingly greedy.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlD1Uhs0mTQ what

    I know I am late but I have to respond to something JTaylor said. Baseball is doing fine with no salary cap because the talent pool is much, much deeper, the difference between superstar players and decent players is not that great, and one single superstar can’t singlehandedly make your team a contender. Basketball’s talent pool is much shallower because height is at such a premium, there is an enormous gulf between the LeBrons of the league and the Joe Johnsons of the league in terms of talent and impact on the game, and one single superstar has an inordinate amount of impact on the game compared to every other sport. It is possible for a team like the Rays to beat a team like the Red Sox or Yankees in a playoff series even if the talent level overall is inferior. It is absolutely impossible for a team like the Bobcats to beat a team like the Lakers or Heat in a playoff series.

  • Justin

    Obviously the reason for the best of 7 is added revenue dollars so I don’t think you will see the NBA change back anytime soon. A shortened season will never happen for the exact same reason. @seriousblack…You think the OWNERS are disgustingly greedy? What a joke! This lockout is strictly on the players. They’ve had it pretty damn good over the terms of the last CBA and it’s about time the owners took a stand. Yes, they’ve obviously made huge mistakes with certain contracts but enough is enough. Since when is getting paid $5-10M a season to play a game something to scoff at?

  • Brahsef

    @Justin, It’s not a game, it’s their job. And people pay big bucks to watch them play it. They deserve that kind of compensation.

    Now the mega deals that are guaranteed money need to be changed. Can’t have any more arenas, lewis’, houstons, etc.

    And the lockout is strictly on the players? The owners are the ones who literally caused the lockout, comeon now.

  • Cameron

    I don’t think anyone deserves that much money for playing a sport….just sayin’

  • http://www.gil1906.com Pve_2

    I never thought about the baseball comparison (because I don’t watch it), but Wade is entirely right.

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