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NBA greats offer money advice for draft picks who will make millions: 'Be smart, man'

Brian Sozzi
·3 min read

Be very careful with your new millions, NBA rookies.

That’s the wisdom ahead of Wednesday’s virtual NBA draft from retired greats turned podcasting duo Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson. The long-time friends and hosts of the “Knuckleheads” podcast on The Players’ Tribune say young players are often overcome with all sorts of money-blowing temptations — from prospective business deals to a desire to quickly live the high life. But the two — who entered the league not too far removed from their high school playing days — say it’s best for newbies in the league to keep things in perspective and closely manage their cash.

“There's so much information, so much knowledge out there for them [the rookies] to be able to protect that money and walk away from the game with the boatload of money that they make,” Richardson told Yahoo Finance. “You start with your family and the people around you that you trust, and you use them and lean on them to vet people into trying to establish those relationships.”

Miles (drafted out of high school) and Richardson (spent two years at Chicago’s DePaul University) burst onto the scene with the L.A. Clippers back in 2000.

Los Angeles Clippers Quentin Richardson (L) congratulates team mate Darius Miles (R) after their game against the Toronto Raptors January 2, 2001 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Miles had his best career game, leading his team with 26 points in the Clippers 110-97victory.    SSM
Quentin Richardson (L) mate Darius Miles (R) after their game against the Toronto Raptors January 2, 2001 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Image: Reuters

Richardson, known for his three-point prowess, earned more than $63 million over the course of his 13-year career in the league. Once retiring after the 2012-2013 season with the New York Knicks, Richardson joined the Detroit Pistons as a professional scout.

‘It’s about the choices you make’

As for dunk phenom Miles, his career was cut short at the age of 27 due to an injury, but he managed to earn $62 million during his nine years in the league. Miles has been open about his financial troubles following depression brought about by the death of his mother. He has discussed how he ran through most of his money by the time he was 35 years old, but he has since rebounded.

“It’s about the choices you make,” Miles said.

Those entering today’s NBA stand to see the riches their contemporaries like Miles and Richardson could have only dreamt about given the popularity of the sport globally. That ultimately makes money management even more important.

“This is one of the most fun, happiest and best times of your lives. You are embarking on a new journey in becoming a young man going into a man's world. And now you're gonna be making a lot of money. So I would say definitely enjoy everything, but keep your family around. But I would say also when you're going into this with your finances, be smart, man,” Richardson said.

The minimum annual salary for a player with one year in the league is now $1.4 million, according to HoopsRumors. Meantime, the max annual salary for those players with six years or less in the league is nearly $28 million. Both of those figures are expected to climb steadily in coming years. Superstar LeBron James rakes in nearly $38 million a year.

That obviously excludes any lucrative endorsement deals, which could only tempt young players to spend beyond any form of rationality. As Nike would say, just ... don’t do it.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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