This year’s list of the NBA’s top 10 highest paid players includes only four who were on it last season: DeMar DeRozan, LeBron James, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. The rising salary cap and players reacting accordingly is causing a great turnover when it comes to the top earners list.
The Toronto Raptors are the only team with two players on the list, while Gordon Hayward and Paul Millsap are the only players on it that switched teams in the offseason. The rankings include three players making over $30 million this season; last season there was only one.
10. DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors: $27,739,975
DeRozan is entering the season year of his five-year, $139 million contract he signed in July, 2016. He’s signed through the 2019-2020 season, with a player option in 2020-2021. He made his third All-Star team last season, and averaged a career high 27.3 points per game, helping the Raptors to 51 wins and the conference semifinals.
9. James Harden, Houston Rockets: $28,299,399
It seems there isn’t a summer that goes by without Harden signing a new contract extension. Last year, he inked a four-year, $118.1 million deal. The Rockets signed him to another extension three months ago, four years once again, only for $160 million. Harden averaged 29.1 points per game last season (career high) and led the NBA in assists with 11.2 a night. He also made his 5th consecutive All-Star team.
8. Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies: $28,530,608
Not too long ago, Conley signed a massive five-year, $153 million deal, the greatest contract by total value in NBA history at that point in time. A lot has happened since then, especially much bigger deals being handed out. Conley is entering his 11th NBA season, all with Memphis, also averaging a career high (20.5 points) last season. He will make over $34 million on the last season of his deal, but it becomes fully guaranteed only if he plays at least 55 games in 2018-2019 or 2019-2020.
7. Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: $28,530,608
Like Harden, Westbrook has signed massive extensions in back-to-back summers. Following the departure of Kevin Durant in 2016, the Thunder were quick to make sure Westbrook wasn’t going to put them in a tough situation, signing him to a 3-year, $85.7 million extension. On September 29, 2017, he signed a new extension, worth $205 million over five years. He’s signed through the 2022-2023 season, when he’ll make over $46 million. Westbrook won the MVP last season, averaging a triple double: 31.6 points, 10.7 rebounds and 10.4 assists, getting to lead the NBA in scoring.
6. Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors: $28,703,704
Following the Raptors playoff exit a few months ago, Lowry declined his $12 million player option for 2017-2018. It worked out for him, signing a three-year, $90 million deal. He averaged a career high 22.4 points per game, also making his third consecutive All-Star game.
5. Blake Griffin, Los Angeles Clippers: $29,512,900
After Chris Paul got traded, it seemed as if the Clippers would break up the team and let Griffin slip away too. Despite missing 83 games over the last 3 years, the Clippers signed Griffin to a 5-year, $173 million deal, displaying their trust in his ability to lead the team without Paul. He averaged 21.6 points per game last season, while the Clippers made another early playoff exit.
4. Gordon Hayward, Boston Celtics: $29,727,900
Hayward is one of two players on this list to switch teams this offseason. He left the Utah Jazz after 7 years in Utah and his first All-Star season in 2016-2017, averaging 21.9 points per game, leading the Jazz to the conference semifinals. He joined the Boston Celtics, signing a four-year, $128 million deal. He can opt out of the final year (worth $34 million).
3. Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets: $31,269,231
Millsap is back in the Western Conference after four seasons with the Hawks in which he made the All-Star game each time. The versatile power forward who was only a 47th overall pick in 2006 will make $90 million over the next 3 years in Denver, but there’s a team option on the 2019-2020 season, worth $30.5 million.
2. LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers: $33,285,709
LeBron James didn’t sign any new deals or opted out of ones for once. He simply carries on into potentially his final year in Cleveland (has a player option after this season). He averaged 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.7 assists, making his 13th All-Star game and his 7th consecutive NBA Finals; his third in a row with the Cavs.
1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: $34,682,550
Stephen Curry followed up winning the NBA championship for the second time in three years by signing a five-year, $201 million contract, the first $200 million deal in NBA history. He averaged 25.3 points per game last season, also making his fourth All-Star game.