Posted by Neil Paine on May 10, 2010
This is a fascinating piece from RealGM's Chris Reina, which asks how much LeBron James and other megastars would earn if they were allowed to auction their free-agent services to the highest bidder without a salary cap or maximum salary rule in the CBA to restrict their earning power... Since Michael Jordan made a record $30 million in 1998, some agents feel LBJ would easily command that amount even if you adjust for inflation (that'd be $44 million in 2010 USD). Others felt he'd be worth in excess of $50 million, or would sign for a multi-year deal valued at more than $200 million (a la Alex Rodriguez in baseball). Another interesting note is that the length of the contract would be shorter than the long-terms deals signed for baseball sluggers because James is perceived to be a bigger physical risk because of his playing style and the greater contact he takes, plus his reliance on unparalleled athleticism.
But all of that is largely irrelevant for now. As for how much LBJ will actually make next summer, the best estimate is $126 million ($21 million/year) over the next 6 years, followed by another 6-year, $180 million contract starting in the 2015-16 season. Of course, which team gets the privilege of paying him that much is still anybody's guess.
(Hat tip: TrueHoop.)