Who are the Highest Paid NBA Players of the 2017-2018 Season?
When the 2016-17 NBA season came to a close, the NBA Players Association (NBAP) put in work and continued to score in a big way with the new collective bargaining agreement. After making a gigantic leap from $70 million to $94.14 million, the 2017-18 season saw another raise to $99.09 million. With the added wiggle room to drop some serious bank on superstar talent.
Whether it be veterans still riding out their max deals, superstars cashing in at just the right time or future greats locking down big-time contracts, the NBA’s top earners may not be as straight forward as many would believe.
20. Bradley Beal, Wizards – $23,775,506
Bradley Beal struck up a monster deal with the Washington Wizards prior to the 2016-17 season.
When the Wizards selected the Florida Gator with the No. 3 pick of the 2012 NBA draft, big things were expected of the young guard.
After four years, Beal had flashed enough signs that the Wiz knew they had to lock down the star-in-the-making and signed him to a five-year deal worth $127 million.
There are pluses and minuses here, as Beal earned his first ever All-Star selection in 2018, yet D.C. is as starved for playoff success as they were before his arrival.
19. Andre Drummond, Pistons – $23,775,506
The story of Andre Drummond’s major pay day holds some similarities to Beal’s contract including their cashing in on a max deal at the same time (thus the identical salaries).
Drummond, who was also a one-and-done, spent his obligatory year at UConn before entering the 2012 NBA draft where the Detroit Pistons selected him as their lottery pick.
Drummond has been the lone ray of hope in the Motor City. The shot-blocking center has already solidified his position as a certifiable beast on the boards, leading the league in rebounding twice (2016, 2018) on his way to two All-Star selections the same year.
18. C.J. McCollum, Trail Blazers – $23,962,573
The journey C.J. McCollum has made to reach his current level of NBA success has been stunning. Coming out of the small Pennsylvania college, Lehigh, McCollum was a gym rat, putting on mass and building his resume while playing out all four years.
There were questions as to whether the Portland Trail Blazers wasted a lottery pick on McCollum being such a similar talent to their star point guard, Damian Lillard.
After two years of relative obscurity in Portland, an exodus of talent left a window of opportunity wide open and McCollum took advantage.
McCollum’s minutes spiked from 15.7 to 34.8 per game, as nearly every stat made an enormous leap with it (most notably his jump from scoring 6.8 to 20.8 ppg).
The 2016 NBA Most Improved Player recipient has since solidified himself as one of the most dangerous back courts in the NBA alongside Damian Lillard.
17. Chris Paul, Rockets – $24,599,495
Chris Paul has set the standard as one of the premier guards of the NBA since entering the league in 2005.
The only knock on the ridiculously talented CP3 is that he’s had trouble staying healthy, especially late in the season, though his upside easily outweighs the risk.
Paul is finishing out his five-year contract, though it isn’t with the team that drew it up. After six years of falling (drastically) short of expectations with the Clippers, both parties agreed oart ways via trade, which landed CP3 in Houston.
Let’s just say that playing with the Rockets is exactly what Paul was hoping it could be.
16. Otto Porter Jr., Wizards – $24,773,250
Strange as it may seem, Otto Porter Jr. takes the throne as the highest paid baller in D.C.
Porter has very much been the glue guy the Wiz need, making an impact across the board in a way that shows up in his all-around stats, but doesn’t quite do justice to his body of work.
Porter inked a four-year deal in 2017, and the $24.77 million he pulled in this season will only continue to climb in each of the following years. Should Porter choose to exercise his fourth and final year of the deal, he’ll pull in a hefty $28.49 million… not bad for a 26-year-old.
15. Kevin Durant, Warriors – $25,000,000
The only surprising thing about Kevin Durant’s name on this list is that it isn’t higher on the board. Golden State Warriors fans are beyond thankful that is the case, because KD took it upon himself to take lass for the team.
When Durant first came to the Bay Area, he accepted a two-year deal, declining his second-year option of $27.73 million to instead take $25 million, so that the Warriors could keep their core intact.
KD opted to decline his option for the 2018-19 season again, but with the flood of endorsements he’s received (and ring that came after just one season), it’s safe to say leaving dough on the table isn’t breaking his bank.
14. Jrue Holiday, Pelicans – $25,686,667
It was a long, arduous journey before Jrue Holiday returned to form, but the Pelicans’ star guard has certainly earned his huge contract.
Once considered to be amongst the future faces of the NBA, the UCLA Bruin turned 76er earned his first All-Star selection in his final year with Philly (2013) before things went south.
Holiday was plagued by a slew of injuries from the moment he arrived in New Orleans coupled with the devastating challenge of his wife – pregnant at the time – being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
With his wife and daughter healthy again, a clear-minded Holiday returned to form. The turnaround has been unmistakable, as he’s proved in his first year of the five-year deal that the Pels made the right move.
13. Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers – $26,153,057
Dame D.O.L.L.A. is making that paper!
Since Portland drafted Damian Lillard in 2012 as their star of the future, Lillard has delivered, leading the Trail Blazers to the postseason in all but his rookie season.
The Blazers may have only made it as far as the Western Conference Semifinals, but even that accomplishment is a remarkable one considering how stacked the west has been since his NBA arrival.
Despite an oft criticized roster consistently lacking depth, the countless clutch performances have proven that “Dame Time” was well worth the investment.
12. Carmelo Anthony, Thunder – $26,243,760
Love or hate Carmelo Anthony, it’s hard not to cringe when looking at this year’s salary.
When Melo was traded to the Knicks, he was entering the prime of his career. After a stellar (individual) 2013-14 campaign, the Knicks wanted to lock down their superstar no matter what, which resulted in a five-year deal worth $124.1 million.
Just about everyone was dead on in assuming the enormous contract – which tied up an abundance of salary cap and a no-trade clause that left Melo with all the power – was a dumpster fire.
NYC and Melo finally ended their cancerous relationship, agreeing to trade Melo to Oklahoma City. It’s safe to say the good people of OKC are having an equally tough time swallowing the reality of how much cap space the over the hill All-Star has tied up.
11. Al Horford, Celtics – $27,734,406
The Boston Celtics scored big time when they landed longtime Atlanta Hawk Al Horford in 2016.
The signing didn’t come without its share of controversy, as Horford’s lack of flashy stats made his four-year deal look a bit iffy on paper.
Skeptics appeared to be right in believing Horford was being overpaid, as his numbers decreased across the board during the 2016-17 season.
An great playoff outing reminded the doubters exactly what he was capable of, and his outstanding 2017-18 campaign, especially the playoffs, has made every cent worth it.
10.DeMar DeRozan, Raptors – $27,739,975
Since the Raptors first drafted DeMar DeRozan in 2009, the high-flying shooting guard has continually elevated his game in some fashion every season. DeRozan endured some rough developmental years when Bosh left for Miami, but the added responsibility paid dividends.
When DeRozan earned his first All-Star selection (2014) while helping get the Raps back to the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the Raps knew they needed to lock down the scoring machine.
DeRozan helped push Toronto to its deepest run when the Raps reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2016. That was more than enough evidence to justify his five-year $139 million deal even if LeBron James continues to be the bane of his and the city’s existence.
9. James Harden, Rockets – $28,299,399
If you think $28.3 million looks like a sweet pay day, you’ll need to strap in to process how much Houston Rockets phenom James Harden is going to cash in for taking advantage of the Designated Veteran Player Extension (DVPE).
Something’s gotta pay for all that product to keep that beard looking crisp, right?
Once Harden completes the 2018-19 season in which he’ll pull a “meager” $30.4 million, he will earn a staggering $169,344,000 through the 2022-23 season. Starting in 2020, Harden will be earning over $40 million a year for his work on the court!
Nothing wrong with paying the
8. Mike Conley, Grizzlies – $28,530,608
For a brief window in time, Mike Conley’s five-year deal with the Memphis Grizzlies for $152.61 million qualified as the biggest (cumulative) contract in NBA history.
Though many argue that the Grizz paid too much to lock down their All-Star point guard, the timing of this deal – signed in 2016 – worked out great for both parties.
The easy argument against the huge contract is that Conley had not earned a single All-Star selection despite having been in the league for nine years.
That being said, his body of work speaks for itself, as the veteran guard led Memphis’ perpetually undermanned squad to five playoff appearances in six years.
7. Russell Westbrook, Thunder – $28,530,608
Come on now, we all know The Brodie marked his territory at the top of the food chain.
Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook should still have one more year to go, but thanks to the DVPE, the reigning MVP (2017) gets to reap the same rewards as Harden for sticking with his squad.
Whether enamored by skeptical of Westbrook’s historic back-to-back seasons averaging a triple-double, The Brodie has undeniably delivers some of the most electric individual performances on a nightly basis, making his five-year extension for $205.03 million well worth every penny.
6. Kyle Lowry, Raptors – $28,703,704
Oh boy… seeing “Raptors” a second time in the top 10 makes both a teeny bit more questionable. LeBron James owning We The North aside, Kyle Lowry worked through countless challenges and two team changes before finding his footing in Toronto.
This marks the first season of Lowry’s three-year deal with the Raps. The positives and negatives are extreme on both sides. Lowry helped lead the Raptors to their most successful regular season in franchise history (59-23) only to be the first ever No. 1 seed to be swept (King James, doing ‘em dirty) before reaching the Conference Finals.
T-4. Blake Griffin, Clippers/Pistons – $29,727,900
This one is.. wow.
The failed experiment that was Lob City is dead and gone, which isn’t too surprising. What is surprising is seeing Blake Griffin, who signed a five-year deal with the Clippers worth over $171 million prior to this season, finish the year in a Pistons jersey.
It was a bizarre situation, to say the least. How Griffin will play alongside Andre Drummond remains to be seen, but it what really left everyone stunned was the harsh reminder that, at the end of the day, the NBA is still a business.
The keystone of the franchise since being drafted No. 1 in 2009 locking into a long-term contract only to be used as trade bait. Ruthless.
T-4. Gordon Hayward, Celtics – $29,727,900
It’s unfair to say the first year of the Gordon Hayward’s time in Boston was a waste of money but, WOW, talk about an unexpected twist.
Hayward had what was likely one of the hardest choices of his life in choosing to stay or leave the Utah Jazz, whom he’d played for through the entirety of his seven-year career.
The hype behind Hayward’s decision to join the Celtics lasted all of a few minutes before a devastating ankle injury left NBA fans hoping for nothing more than a full recovery.
Lost season aside, a return to form by Hayward coupled with a young Celtics team seemingly well ahead of their time could mean the small forward’s remaining three years pays dividends.
3. Paul Millsap, Nuggets – $31,285,709
Even with Paul Millsap’s four straight All-Star selections from 2014-17, many gasped at the Nuggets’ decision sign the talented power forward to a two-year, $60 million deal.
Millsap’s fundamental game may lack in flash, but his efficiency more than makes up for it.
Unfortunately, a left wrist injury that required surgery left Millsap out of commission for a large chunk of the season. A return to form was barely too late, as the Nugs’ late run for the playoffs fell one game short with a still impressive 46-36.
2. LeBron James, Cavaliers – $33,285,709
Is anyone surprised to see King James name on the Mount Rushmore of getting paid this year?
Forget the cash James is pulling this year in Cleveland; the real intrigue is in his third-year option next year.
Since LBJ played his cards right (unlike a certain Los Angelino turned Detroiter) can take the $35.61 million option for next year to play for The Land, or he can takes his talents to… wherever he wants.
It’s good to be king.
1. Steph Curry, Warriors – $34,382,550
LeBron James may be king, but Steph Curry currently reigns as our NBA champ.
Chef Curry has been whipping up some three-pointers so fresh that it’s literally reinventing the game.
Like The Beard and The Brodie, Threezus utilized the DVPE and locked in for the long-term prior to the 2017-18 season.
No matter the outcome of the Warriors’ next four seasons – let’s be real, even a drastic drop off in production won’t keep Golden State out of the postseason – the Bay Area’s 2x MVP has already earned every single dollar of the $166,476,240 owed through 2022.