Wideman loves to see rookies make connections with established vets at RTP who can serve as financial mentors, like McCollum has with Connaughton and like Connaughton has with Williams. Three Leaf Development, Connaughton’s real estate company was established in 2015 and has built (and sometimes sold) condominium projects and custom home construction in Boston, Portland, Milwaukee, South Bend, Indiana, and Florida. A venture like that sounded attractive to Williams when he was a rookie, and he’s now one of 25 players who are active investors with Connaughton’s company. The NBA champ says roughly 40 additional players have reached out with interest in investing in his projects or with questions about the real estate business in general. What neither he nor the NBA wants are players haplessly throwing money at something.
“I’ve had two guys say, ‘I’m going to give you a million bucks. In a year and a half you’ll give me back four.’ Well, no, that’s not how real estate works,” says Connaughton. “That’s more of a venture capital investment and, quite frankly, this isn’t going to be a good fit.”
Williams says a few rookies reached out to him post-RTP, but specifically mentions Corey Kispert. The way Connaughton has served as a mentor to Williams, Williams is doing the same with the Wizards rookie who was the 15th selection in July’s draft. Even though he’s still learning, the 22-year-old Williams, who entered the league in 2019, is more than happy to help a novice navigate the ins and outs of becoming and remaining a multimillionaire.
“I remind people that it’s a brotherhood,” says Williams. “We’re all here competing for the same spots so basketball-wise, it’s going to be competitive. But off the court we’re Black, white men that are trying to not only build wealth for ourselves, but generations for our families. [Some] people are going to be more willing than others, but take advantage of those people that are willing to speak with you.”
Prudence and massive paychecks often aren’t a mix when excess and opulence are glorified on social media. But at the very least every rookie who’s participated in the league’s financial literacy curriculum should come out way wiser. Murphy says he feels “a little bit more secure” about managing his future fortune after RTP. He also admits to a healthy dose of apprehension.
“I still feel like I’m a little nervous at the moment because you want to spend, but you also don’t want to go broke,” says Murphy. “You try to put limits on yourself, but I’ve talked to a bunch of guys in the league now who say their rookie year they were scared to spend money. But you realize you’ll be in a good spot, you’ll be fine.”
Murphy doesn’t plan on splurging when he finally gets his first NBA check in November. He already has a nice enough car, plus, he points out, the real money comes with your second contract. The 17th selection in the draft wants to settle in with a monthly budget before his first big purchase. Proving the kids will be all right, when the vets on the Pelicans inevitably make the rookie pay for an expensive dinner, strict rules will be in place.
“I’mma tell them they get one entrée, no appetizers,” says Murphy.