The Biggest Nba Contracts The Leagues Top Earners9 min read

The Biggest Nba Contracts The Leagues Top Earners<span class="wtr-time-wrap after-title"><span class="wtr-time-number">9</span> min read</span>
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The NBA features some of the world’s most elite athletes, competing night in and night out to bring fans exhilarating displays of talent and athleticism. With popularity booming across the globe, massive contracts are being handed out at record rates. Players are securing enormous bags, with some mega deals crossing the ultra-lucrative $200 million threshold.

With the torch being passed from legends like Jordan and LeBron, a new class of superstars is stepping up to dominate the hardwood. These budding young phenoms have already cemented their legacies by inking the most lucrative deals in league history early in their careers.

Let’s take a look at the cream of the crop – the players who currently boast the biggest contracts in the NBA.

Relevant NBA Financial Facts and Figures

●   In the 2021–22 season, Stephen Curry held the highest single season NBA salary at $45.8 million with the Golden State Warriors.

●   For the 2021–22 season, the Golden State Warriors had the highest total payroll at $184 million.

●   The NBA salary cap for the 2021–22 season was set at $112.4 million, with a $136.6 million luxury tax limit.

●   Over his 20 year career thus far, LeBron James has earned a record $431.9 million in NBA salary, making him the highest paid player of all time.

●   For the 2022–23 season, the NBA salary cap is projected to rise 8.5% to $122 million.

●   The luxury tax limit will likely jump 9.1% to $149 million for the 2022–23 campaign.

1. Nikola Jokic – Denver Nuggets

$264 million over 5 years

Annual Average Salary: $52.8 million

The back-to-back MVP inked the richest deal in league history on July 1st 2022, agreeing to a 5 year $264 million supermax extension with the Nuggets. After posting gaudy averages of 26.7 points, 12.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists over the past two seasons, the raise was certainly warranted for the versatile big man.

The Biggest Nba Contracts The Leagues Top Earners

The "Joker" was initially drafted by Denver back in 2014 with a reputation as a skilled but unathletic center from Europe. While his unique skillset was evident early on, few could have predicted he’d blossom into a two-time MVP winner currently making a strong case as the NBA’s best overall player.

With a $60 million player option for 2027-28, don’t expect the arguing over who’s truly "The GOAT Center" to end anytime soon.

2. Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks

$228.2 million over 5 years

Annual Average Salary: $45.6 million

In December 2020, the Greek Freak solidified his long term commitment to the city that drafted him, signing a 5 year $228 million supermax extension with the Bucks. Still only 27 years old, the deal ensures the 2x MVP will likely spend the entirety of his prime anchoring Milwaukee as they hunt for more championships.

After bursting onto the scenes as a promising project with immense two-way potential, Antetokounmpo rapidly developed into one of the most dominant singular forces the game has ever seen. His rare blend of size, skill and athleticism strikes fear into the heart of defenses league-wide.

With his new deal surpassing Russell Westbrook’s contract as the largest in history (at the time), the Bucks clearly have no reservations about their cornerstone’s ability to deliver value.

3. Stephen Curry – Golden State Warriors

Contract: $215 million over 4 years

Annual Average Salary: $53.8 million

The greatest shooter ever to pick up a basketball has unsurprisingly signed a record-setting contract in the Bay, inking $215 million over 4 years with the Warriors. Steph reclaimed his throne as the league’s scoring champion in 2021-22, flashing his trademark limitless range and peerless off ball movement.

The Biggest Nba Contracts The Leagues Top Earners

After missing most of the previous season through injury, Curry ended up 3rd in MVP voting at 34 years old, proving elite spacing and shot making translates regardless of age. His 2015-16 unanimous MVP may be just a memory, but he led another vintage regular season campaign as Golden State returned to title contention.

With his smooth jumper showing no signs of decline, expect countless broken defenses and deep heaves from the Baby Faced Assassin as he continues terrorizing the NBA.

4. Luka Doncic – Dallas Mavericks

Contract: $212 million over 5 years

Annual Average Salary: $42.5 million

Luka Doncic has elevated himself into the elite tier of NBA superstars at just 23 years old, a reality reflected by his 5 year $212 million extension inked with the Mavs during 2022 free agency.

The young playmaker took the league by storm after arriving from Real Madrid, seamlessly translating his professional experience and advanced skillset into superstardom. After sweeping the Rookie of the Year votes in 2019, Doncic earned 3 straight All NBA First Team selections and developed into a walking triple double.

With the keys to the franchise in his hands long term, the Mavs will be banking on Doncic blossoming into a perennial MVP candidate under new coach Jason Kidd.

5. Russell Westbrook – Los Angeles Lakers

Contract: $207 million over 5 years

Annual Average Salary: $41.4 million

Thewalking triple double machine Russ Westbrook enters 2022-23 in the first year of a massive 5 year $207 million deal originally signed with the Rockets in 2019. His unique athleticism and bullish mentality translates into gaudy counting stats, but inefficient shooting and turnover prone playmaking have plagued him come playoff time.

The Biggest Nba Contracts The Leagues Top Earners

Now on his 5th team after stints in OKC, Houston, Washington and his hometown Lakers, critics are questioning whether his ball dominant style still fits in a winning environment. Regardless, his place among the highest paid players in the league remains ironclad.

With career averages of 23 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists per game, Russ will retire as one of the most statistically prolific guards ever, even if championship success proves elusive.

6. Rudy Gobert – Minnesota Timberwolves

Contract: $205 million over 5 years

Annual Average Salary: $41 million

While the Stifle Tower Gobert failed to come to terms over an extension in Utah, the Wolves swooped in to acquire him on a 5 year $205 million deal as part of a blockbuster trade.

The French big man anchoring the paint is the archetypal defensive anchor teams crave as a last line of protection at the rim. Though not renowned for his scoring touch, Gobert’s presence alone deters drivers and provides impeccable spacing gravity as a lethal lob threat.

With Minnesota paying a premium to pair their franchise cornerstone KAT with an elite defensive center, expectations will be sky high for the Wolves new look roster stockpiled with talent.

7. Joel Embiid – Philadelphia 76ers

Contract: $196 million over 4 years

Annual Average Salary: $49 million

Despite recurring injury concerns, Embiid has solidified himself as the truth for Philly; the ideal modern big man and true NBA unicorn. Coming off a narrowly losing 2021 MVP campaign, the Cameroonian’s two way brilliance earned him a $196 million supermax extension in August 2021.

For a player that didn’t even touch a basketball until his mid teens, Embiid’s development into the league’s most dominant interior force has been remarkable. His historic season scoring the ball at incredible efficiency was enough for Philly to commit through 2026-27, although lingering health issues remain a red flag.

The Biggest Nba Contracts The Leagues Top Earners

Regardless of availability, when fully locked in Joel Embiid represents the prototype for any aspiring young big man. Enjoy the show as he enters his prime.

8. Kevin Durant – Brooklyn Nets

$194 million over 4 years

Annual Average Salary: $48.5 million

Despite rupturing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals as a Warrior, KD still secured the bag with Kyrie in Brooklyn, inking a 4 year $164 million deal in June 2019. When healthy, the 6’10 scoring savant remains indefensible; arguably the most versatile shot creator ever to play the game.

After rehabbing the entirety of 2019-20, Durant returned every bit as dominant as his MVP days in Golden State, making mincemeat of defenses with his unmatched blend of height, skill and shooting touch. Though injuries have robbed fans of his greatness for long stretches recently, the former MVP continues cementing himself as an all-timer when on the floor.

If the Nets big three can find a way to take the court at once in 2022-23, few teams will pose a threat. Watch out.

9. Klay Thompson – Golden State Warriors

Contract: $190 million over 5 years

Annual Average Salary: $38 million

After missing consecutive seasons through ACL and Achilles tears, the Warriors wasted no time refunding Klay’s max contract in 2019 free agency, retaining him on a 5 year $190 million deal.

The sharpshooting Splash Brother may have lost half a step defensively, but his quick trigger and limitless range should translate smoothly into the twilight of his career as he transitions towards a role playing microwave. Expect no decrease in iconic Game 6 Thompson explosions.

With 4 rings and the most prolific long range shooting display in history already under his belt, the 32 year old now gets the chance to pad his legacy even further alongside Steph.

The Biggest Nba Contracts The Leagues Top Earners

10. Anthony Davis – Los Angeles Lakers

Contract: $190 million over 5 years

Average Annual Salary: $38 million

Despite persistent struggles with injuries limiting his availability, AD secured the bag once again in December 2020, inking a 5 year $190 million max extension to remain LeBron’s co-star entering his prime.

When healthy, Davis’ blend of interior scoring, defence and shot blocking leaves him arguably the most impactful front court force since prime Tim Duncan. However his lanky frame continues hampering his ability to string together extended stretches on the floor.

With the Lakers roster growing old fast, expect LA to explore trading Davis for younger assets if his health failings continue long term, with $43 million player options the next two years. For now though, enjoy his two way brilliance while it lasts Lakers fans.

Wrapping Up

With contracts constantly being restructured and the cap inflating, it’s reasonable to expect this list will see substantial turnover in the coming decade. Still, one aspect seems certain judging by the youth of current record holders – the next generation of superstars look poised to push the limits of contract value even further.

Stars like Luka and Jokic have already left their mark in ink before even hitting their prime. Buckle up for the ride!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do max contracts work in the NBA?

Max contracts allow teams to offer elite players up to 25-30% of the salary cap, enabling small market franchises to fend off bigger spenders. Exact values depend on years of service, All NBA Selections and various other factors.

Are all NBA contracts fully guaranteed?

Yes, all NBA deals are fully guaranteed for the entire agreed term once signed, unlike the NFL. Players get their money even if waived or traded.

The Biggest Nba Contracts The Leagues Top Earners

What is the over-38 rule?

It affects cap hits for players signed to four or more seasons after turning 38 during the deal’s duration.

What was previously the biggest deal in NBA history?

Prior to Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo held the record with a $228 million contract. Expect the record to be challenged again before long judging by current trends.