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Highest-paid NBA players by season

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Michael Jordan, who earned $33,140,000 in the 1997–98 NBA season, attempts a slam dunk at the old Boston Garden.

The highest-paid NBA players by season has recently eclipsed $40 million. Larry Bird was the first player to earn $5 million or more with a salary of $7,070,000 in the 1991-92 season. Magic Johnson became the first player to earn $10 million or more in the 94-95 season with a salary of $14,660,000. Patrick Ewing became the first player to earn $15 million or more in the 95-96 season with a salary of $18,724,000. Michael Jordan was the first NBA player to sign a contract worth over $20 million and in fact it exceeded $30 million as well in a season; this was a record he had held for 15 years. During the 1997–98 season, Jordan earned $33,140,000, which still stands as the most any NBA player has earned on a 1-year contract. Jordan also holds the record for the second largest 1-year contract at $30,140,000 in the 1996-97 season. Kobe Bryant become just the second player to reach this milestone when the 2013–14 season began.[1] LeBron James became the third in the 2016–17 season. Stephen Curry became the first player to eclipse $40 million per year when he signed a record 5-year contract worth $201 million in 2017, starting with $34,682,550 in the 2017-18 season and ending with the largest earnings in the 2021-22 season with a record payout of $45,780,966.

Beginning in the 1984–85 NBA season, the NBA's first salary cap was introduced. The NBA salary cap is the maximum dollar amount each NBA team can spend on its players for the season. However, the NBA uses a "soft" salary cap, which means that significant "salary exceptions" allow NBA teams to exceed their allotted amount in order to sign players. The salary cap is determined during the offseason, but as stated earlier, it is liable to change.[2]

An exception is necessary to sign a player for a contract that would exceed the salary cap threshold of the "soft cap". The Larry Bird exception, more commonly known as Bird Rights, allows teams to re-sign a current player only if he has played for that particular team for a minimum of three years.[3] Another exception, known as the mid-level exception, allows for teams that are over the salary cap to sign one or more players as long as they do not exceed the total amount of the average NBA salary.[4] Next, the bi-annual exception can be used by teams every other year to sign a free agent(s) for up to two years at an amount set by the NBA.[5] Finally, the rookie player exception allows any NBA team to sign their first-round draft pick to a contract based upon a scale previously set forth by the NBA. Another option for teams would be to assign players to a league-assigned minimum salary contract for a maximum of two years.

According to 2010–11 NBA season game performance, the league's best players were not its highest-paid players. Each year there are ten players selected to one of the two All-NBA Teams. Out of those ten players chosen that year, Kobe Bryant was the only player that was also among the game's ten highest-paid during the 2010–11 NBA season.[6]



Player [7] Salary Team
Stephen Curry $40,231,758 Golden State Warriors
Russell Westbrook $38,506,482 Houston Rockets
Chris Paul $38,506,482 Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant $38,199,000 Brooklyn Nets
James Harden $38,199,000 Houston Rockets
John Wall $38,199,000 Washington Wizards
LeBron James $37,436,858 Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Lowry $34,996,296 Toronto Raptors
Blake Griffin $34,449,964 Detroit Pistons
Paul George $33,005,556 Los Angeles Clippers



LeBron James became the third player to sign a contract worth over thirty million dollars in a season, after Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Player [10] Salary Team
LeBron James $30,963,450 Cleveland Cavaliers
Al Horford $26,540,100 Boston Celtics
DeMar DeRozan $26,540,100 Toronto Raptors
James Harden $26,540,100 Houston Rockets
Kevin Durant $26,540,100 Golden State Warriors
Russell Westbrook $26,540,100 Oklahoma City Thunder
Mike Conley Jr. $26,540,100 Memphis Grizzlies
Dirk Nowitzki $25,000,000 Dallas Mavericks
Carmelo Anthony $24,559,380 New York Knicks
Damian Lillard $24,328,425 Portland Trail Blazers


Kobe Bryant, who spent his entire 20-year career in a Los Angeles Lakers uniform, was the highest-paid player in the league from the 2009–10 until his retirement at the conclusion of the 2015–16 season.
Player [11] Salary Team
Kobe Bryant $25,000,000 Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James $22,970,500 Cleveland Cavaliers
Carmelo Anthony $22,875,000 New York Knicks
Dwight Howard $22,359,364 Houston Rockets
Chris Bosh $22,192,730 Miami Heat
Chris Paul $21,468,695 Los Angeles Clippers
Kevin Durant $20,158,622 Oklahoma City Thunder
Derrick Rose $20,093,064 Chicago Bulls
Dwyane Wade $20,000,000 Miami Heat
LaMarcus Aldridge $19,689,000 San Antonio Spurs



Kevin Garnett was the highest-paid player during the 2008–09, 2007–08, and 2006–07 seasons; he relinquished that position to Shaquille O'Neal for two seasons, but was also the highest-paid player during the 2003–04, 2002–03, 2001–02, and 2000–01 seasons.
Player [18] Salary Team
Kevin Garnett $24,751,934 Boston Celtics
Jason Kidd $21,372,000 Dallas Mavericks
Jermaine O'Neal $21,372,000 Toronto Raptors
Kobe Bryant $21,262,500 Los Angeles Lakers
Shaquille O'Neal $21,000,000 Phoenix Suns
Allen Iverson $20,840,625 Detroit Pistons
Stephon Marbury $20,840,625 Boston Celtics
Tim Duncan $20,598,704 San Antonio Spurs
Tracy McGrady $20,370,437 Houston Rockets
Ray Allen $18,388,430 Boston Celtics


Player [20] Salary Team
Kevin Garnett $23,751,934 Boston Celtics
Shaquille O'Neal $21,000,000 Phoenix Suns
Jason Kidd $19,728,000 New Jersey Nets
Jermaine O'Neal $19,728,000 Indiana Pacers
Kobe Bryant $19,490,625 Los Angeles Lakers
Tim Duncan $19,014,188 San Antonio Spurs
Allen Iverson $19,012,500 Denver Nuggets
Stephon Marbury $19,012,500 New York Knicks
Tracy McGrady $18,257,750 Houston Rockets
Baron Davis $16,440,000 Golden State Warriors



See also


  1. ^ "Kobe Bryant to Become NBA's Second Ever $30-Million Player". Archived from the original on 2011-09-19.
  2. ^ "NBA Salary Cap History".
  3. ^ "NBA Salary Cap Explained".
  4. ^ "Mid Level Exception".
  5. ^ "Bi-annual Exception".
  6. ^ Badenhausen, Kurt (2010-11-04). "The NBA's Highest-Paid Players". Forbes.
  7. ^ "2019/20 NBA Salary Rankings". Retrieved 2019-07-14.
  8. ^ "2018/19 NBA Player Salaries". Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  9. ^ "2017/18 NBA Player Salaries". Retrieved 2018-09-09.
  10. ^ "The NBA's 25 highest-paid players for the 2016-17 season". Retrieved 2017-06-23.
  11. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2015-2016". ESPN. Retrieved 2015-10-30.
  12. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2014-2015". ESPN. Retrieved 2015-01-17.
  13. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2013-2014". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  14. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2012-2013". ESPN. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  15. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2011-2012". ESPN. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  16. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2010-2011". ESPN ( Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  17. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2009-2010". ESPN ( Retrieved 2013-09-16.
  18. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2008-2009". ESPN ( Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  19. ^ a b "NBA Salaries". Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  20. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2007-2008". ESPN ( Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  21. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2006-2007". ESPN ( Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  22. ^ "2005-2006 salaries". Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  23. ^ "2004-2005 NBA salaries". Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  24. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2003-2004". ESPN ( Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  25. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2002-2003". ESPN ( Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  26. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2001-2002". ESPN ( Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  27. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 2000-2001". ESPN ( Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  28. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 1999-2000". ESPN ( Retrieved 2014-02-01.
  29. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 1998-1999". Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  30. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 1997-1998". Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  31. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 1996-1997". Retrieved July 29, 2018.
  32. ^ "NBA Player Salaries - 1995-1996". Retrieved July 29, 2018.