A second consecutive NBA championship and Finals MVP should bring a tangible payoff to LeBron James.
A prominent sports marketing expert expects the Heat star to cash in an additional $5 million to $7 million in annual commercial endorsements.
Considering James already leads all NBA players with $42 million a year in off-court earnings, such an increase doesn’t carry the life-altering impact that it would for an up-and-coming player.
James was recently ranked No. 4 in endorsements among all athletes by Forbes Magazine, tied with universally admired David Beckham. They trail Tiger Woods and Roger Federer, each with $65 million a year in endorsements, and Phil Mickelson with $44 million.
Kobe Bryant ranks second in endorsements among NBA players with $34 million. The Heat’s Dwyane Wade is fifth at $11.5 million a year.
Budinger, Wolves OK deal
The Minnesota Timberwolves entered free agency with two priorities at the top of their list — add a shooting guard with range and retain Chase Budinger.
One down, one to go.
Budinger agreed to terms on a three-year, $16 million contract Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the deal said. The deal includes a player option for the final year. The person requested anonymity because an official announcement has not been made.
Budinger averaged 9.4 points and shot 32 percent from 3-point range last season. He only played in 23 games thanks to a knee injury that derailed a promising start to the year, but Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman and new President Flip Saunders made no secret of the fact that they badly wanted Budinger back in Minnesota.
Webster remains a Wizard
Martell Webster has agreed to a four-year deal to stay with the Washington Wizards. He reached terms with the team Tuesday. The contract can’t be signed until July 10 under NBA free agency rules.
Bringing back Webster was a top priority for the Wizards. The eight-year veteran swingman averaged a career-high 11.4 points last season and was a respected locker room leader. He could also serve as a mentor for Otto Porter, chosen No. 3 overall by Washington last month in the draft.
Mohammed stays with Bulls
Veteran center Nazr Mohammed says he is staying with the Chicago Bulls.
Mohammed announced on Twitter on Tuesday that he will re-sign with his hometown team, saying it was “an easy decision” and he was looking forward to “going to battle with a group of guys who never made excuses and just tried to find a way to win.”
Several media outlets also reported that the Bulls have agreed to a two-year deal with Mike Dunleavy Jr. as they try to boost their shooting. Dunleavy, an 11-year veteran, spent the past two years with Milwaukee and averaged 10.5 points while shooting 42.8 percent on 3-pointers.
The Bulls also drafted New Mexico’s Tony Snell and Florida’s Erik Murphy to boost their perimeter game.
Mavs set to add free agent
The Dallas Mavericks are set to add Israeli point guard Gal Mekel in free agency.
Mekel’s agent, Sam Porter, says the 6-foot-3 Mekel has agreed to join the Mavericks on a three-year deal with $2.3 million guaranteed. Free agents can’t sign until July 10.
The Mavericks added Mekel after getting Miami point guard Shane Larkin in the NBA draft last week. Mekel and the son of Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin are expected to battle for the backup job.
Mekel played two years at Wichita State in 2006-08, and his pro team in Israel, Maccabi Haifa, won a league title in 2013.
He will be the second Israeli player in the NBA. Free agent forward Omri Casspi was the first.