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Nets ‘Big Three’ all among top 10 of highest paid NBA players

Miami Heat v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets keep setting records, some good, some bad. For example, if the Nets offense keeps humming and its defense keeps crumbling, Brooklyn will finish the season with the best offensive numbers ever ... and the worst defensive!

And as Forbes reports Monday, the Nets “Big Three” are likely to be the first NBA trio to all finish in the top 10 of the league’s highest paid players — salary, endorsements, etc. included, in 2021.

As Forbes Kurt Badenhausen writes...

The Warriors have two of the NBA’s highest-paid stars in Curry and Thompson (No. 8, $43.3 million), but the Brooklyn Nets did them one better with their blockbuster trade this month for three-time reigning scoring champion James Harden. Kevin Durant (No. 3, $65.2 million), Harden (No. 5, $50 million) and Kyrie Irving (No. 7, $43 million) are an expensive trio but make the Nets an NBA title favorite, along with the Lakers.

In the cases of Irving and Harden, their NBA salary represents the bulk of their income. Irving will make $26 million in salary and an estimated $17 million in endorsements. Harden similarly earned $17 million in endorsements atop $33 million in salary, according to Forbes.

Durant, however, will make more of his money in endorsements. KD is expected to earn $34 million (the same as his two teammates endorsement deals combined) as well as $31 million in salary.

Why the disparity between the publicly available NBA salary data and Forbes numbers? Blame the pandemic. Badenhousen writes...

[E]very NBA player will have 20% of their pay placed in an escrow account to help balance the 50-50 split in leaguewide revenue, as defined by the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.

The totals do not include the players’ investments, but Forbes points to one very smart move KD made five years back.

Durant scored in November when Uber bought food-delivery service Postmates for $2.65 billion. He had invested in the San Francisco-based startup at a discounted entry price in 2016 in return for his endorsement and turned his $1 million stake into roughly $15 million.

Irving also has a stake in Beyond Meat, the plant-based company that recently made a deal with Pepsi, combining forces to develop and distribute snacks and drinks made with plant-based protein which has boosted its stock. And Forbes notes that smart home fragrance brand Pura announced in December that Harden had joined the company as an investor and creative director.

Who’s No. 1? LeBron James, of course. who’ll make an estimated $95.4 million, $64 million of which will come from endorsements.