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LeBron James Trails Top 20 in NBA Pay, Forbes Says

Miami Heat teammates LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh don’t make enough money to put them among the National Basketball Association’s 20 highest-paid players, Forbes said.

James and Bosh will get $14.5 million each this season from the Heat, $10.3 million less than top-earning Kobe Bryant will receive from the Los Angeles Lakers. Wade will be paid $14 million, the report said.

James will gross more than $40 million when endorsements from companies including Coca-Cola Co., Nike Inc. and McDonald’s Corp. are added to his salary, Forbes said. Sponsorships lift Bryant’s salary nearer to $50 million. No other NBA player will earn more than $30 million from salary and sponsors.

James, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, left the Cleveland Cavaliers in July after seven seasons to join fellow All-Stars Wade and Bosh at the Heat.

The arrival of James and Bosh, and Wade’s decision to stay, led Las Vegas oddsmakers to make the Heat the odds-on favorite to win the NBA title for the first time since 2006. Miami has won four straight games since losing its season opener to the Boston Celtics.

Bryant, 32, replaced Tracy McGrady at the top of the salary list when he signed a three-year, $83.5 million extension in April, Forbes said. Bryant should stay on top through the 2013-14 season, when his salary increases to $30.5 million, it said.

McGrady to Pistons

McGrady played in 30 games last season, split between the Houston Rockets and the New York Knicks, after knee surgery in the middle of the 2008-9 season. The Knicks beat the Chicago Bulls 120-112 last night.

McGrady is being paid $1.35 million this year by the Detroit Pistons after earning $23 million in the final year of his previous contract, ESPN reported Aug. 10.

Team owners are looking to cut players’ salaries by $800 million, or 35 percent, under a new labor accord. The current agreement expires at the end of the season.

Orlando Magic forward Rashard Lewis, who signed a six-year contract worth $118 million, is second on the Forbes list at $20.5 million.

Kevin Garnett of the Celtics is third at $18.8 million, followed by Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs at $18.7 million. Michael Redd of the Milwaukee Bucks rounds out the top five at $18.3 million.

RANK  PLAYER            TEAM                  SALARY ($M)
1.    Kobe Bryant       Los Angeles Lakers    $24.8
2.    Rashard Lewis     Orlando Magic         $20.5
3.    Kevin Garnett     Boston Celtics        $18.8
4.    Tim Duncan        San Antonio Spurs     $18.7
5.    Michael Redd      Milwaukee Bucks       $18.3
6.=   Pau Gasol         Los Angeles Lakers    $17.8
6.=   Andrei Kirilenko  Utah Jazz             $17.8
8.=   Gilbert Arenas    Washington Wizards    $17.7
8.=   Yao Ming          Houston Rockets       $17.7
10.   Zach Randolph     Memphis Grizzlies     $17.3

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