No one can understate what playing with an all-time great can do for a player's career in the NBA. During 2020's 'The Last Dance' documentary, we saw players like Steve Kerr and Bill Cartwright explain how playing with Michael Jordan in the Chicago Bulls helped boost their career stock greatly, and secure their legacy in the upper echelon of basketball history. Whereas, the young Lakers core from 2014 to 2016 got the chance to learn and grow under the learning tree of Kobe Bryant, and many of them have gone on to find great success in the league. Players like Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell, and Jordan Clarkson became very successful in the league thanks to their stint playing with Kobe.
But perhaps no player helps their teammates' careers, at least on the financial side, quite like LeBron James. James has been in the NBA for almost 20 years now and has teamed up with a lot of players in this league. The teammates that benefitted from him the most were undoubtedly those from his first stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers. During LeBron's first stint with the Cavs, he was the best player on the team with no real second option around him. Because of how incredible he was, James was able to single-handedly lead his teams to success, even dragging the Cavs to the 2007 NBA Finals.
But which of his teammates did James help get the best contract possible? Here are some of the players who got a huge bag thanks to the time they spent as teammates with King James.
Alex Caruso - 4 Years, $37 Million (2021)
Most recently, LeBron James' former Lakers teammate Alex Caruso just signed a 4-year, $37 million contracts with the Chicago Bulls. For a player that went undrafted, and was playing in the G-League just a few seasons ago, that is an astonishing rise. Caruso joined the Lakers during LeBron's first season in LA. Immediately, the two-way player was able to make a big impact, especially on the defensive end of the court. Caruso eventually got a full contract with the Lakers. Caruso was one of the key players in 2020 for the Lakers, as they won the NBA championship. James helped Caruso a lot, and the two players often connected well together, especially on lob and alley-oop plays.
Matthew Dellavedova - 4 Years, $38 Million (2016)
Caruso is not the first player that LeBron has helped get a big salary. LeBron helped his former teammate Matthew Dellavedova. Dellavedova went undrafted during the 2013 Draft, and signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Cavaliers. After LeBron's arrival, Dellavedova started to become a relied-upon player for the Cavs. And in 2016, he played a role during the Cavs NBA Championship win. As his contract with the Cavaliers ended, he agreed to a sign-and-trade move to the Milwaukee Bucks, which helped Dellavedova get a similar deal to Caruso, for 4 years and $38 million, as he went on to the Bucks. Delly would eventually return to the Cavs in the 2018-19 season after a stint with the Bucks, before leaving to go play in his home country of Australia. But Delly was able to secure a good payday thanks to the role he played with LeBron James in the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Timofey Mozgov - 4 Years, $64 Million (2016)
But perhaps no teammate benefitted more from their time with LeBron than Timofey Mozgov. Fans will remember Timofey Mozgov from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Mozgov joined the Cavs in 2015, during LeBron James' second stint with the franchise. The Cavs brought him in during the 14-15 season, as they made a run to the NBA Finals. The second year, Mozgov and the Cavs won the NBA Championship in one of the greatest finals series in history. During the offseason, Mozgov cashed in on his high value, despite not playing big minutes during the NBA Playoffs. Mozgov signed a 4-year, $64 million contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers received a lot of criticism for the contract, but Mozgov was able to get a huge payday after a few seasons playing with LeBron James.
James has helped so many players earn big contracts throughout his career, mostly because of the experience they had playing with him. Players like Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, and many others have been able to earn good money thanks to the reputation of playing with LeBron James.
Because basketball is a team sport, the teammates around James did get a lot of the credit for their role in those successful teams. Because of this, these players were able to secure big paydays for themselves and earn a lot of money. The association of playing with James often helps players elevate their stock. James is one of the best team players in the history of basketball and is great at making his teammates look great.