In the high-stakes world of professional basketball, a player’s value is often measured in the millions of dollars they command on the court.
The NBA has seen some colossal contracts in recent years, with superstars like Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, and Trae Young signing deals that reflect their exceptional talent and the financial muscle of their respective teams.
Let’s explore the financial dynamics underpinning the NBA and the players setting new benchmarks in earning power.
From Curry’s record-breaking $215 million deal with the Golden State Warriors to rising stars like Doncic and Young, we’ll examine how these contracts are shaping the future of the sport.
Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) – 4-year, $215 million
The Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry signed a 4-year, $215,353,664 contract with the team on August 6, 2021.
The contract is fully guaranteed, and Curry will earn an annual average salary of $53,838,416.
In the 2023-24 season, Curry will earn a base salary of $51,915,615 while carrying a cap hit of $51,915,615 and a dead cap value of $51,915,615.
The extension was a 105% increase from his 2021-22 salary.
Curry’s contract accounts for around 38% of the team’s salary cap in each season of the deal. His contract has a dead cap value of $51.9 million.
Stephen Curry’s previous contracts include a 5-year, $201 million contract signed in 2017, which was fully guaranteed at signing, and he earned an average salary of $40.2 million.
His rookie deal was for four years and worth $12.7 million, with an average annual salary of $3.1 million.
He then re-signed with the Warriors for another four years, a rookie extension as the Warriors held his Bird rights. The contract was for $44 million with an annual salary of $11 million.
Curry has chosen to remain with the Warriors whenever he reaches free agency. He is one of the rare superstars in today’s NBA not to change teams or ever demand a trade.
Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) – 5-year, $215 million
Luka Doncic, the young superstar of the Dallas Mavericks, signed a 5-year, $215,159,700 contract with the team.
The contract includes $215,159,700 guaranteed and an annual average salary of $43,031,940.
The new deal kicked in during the 2022-23 season and will keep Doncic under contract with Dallas until 2027.
In the 2023-24 season, Doncic will earn a base salary of $40,064,220 while carrying a cap hit of $40,064,220 and a dead cap value of $40,064,220.
His contract also includes a 15% trade kicker.
Doncic’s contract details for the 2022-23 NBA season include earning up to $37 million.
He also has a player option in the final year of his deal, in the 2026-27 season.
Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks) – 5-year, $215 million
Trae Young, the star point guard for the Atlanta Hawks, signed a 5-year, $215 million max contract extension with the Hawks in August 2021.
The contract includes $215,159,700 guaranteed and an annual average salary of $43,031,940.
The contract will last for the next couple of years, and his salary is set to increase with each passing year. He made $37 million this season and is slated to make $40 million in 2024. By the final year of the deal, he will be making $48.9 million.
Trae Young’s All-NBA selection in 2022 activated the supermax clause of his contract, netting him an extra $35 million roughly, including $6.1 million.
The contract also includes a no-trade clause:
- Contract length: 5 years
- Total value: $215 million.
- Average annual salary: $43,031,940.
- Guaranteed money: $215,159,700.
- No-trade clause: included.
Russell Westbrook (Utah Jazz) – 5-year, $205 million
Russell Westbrook was traded to the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team deal between the Jazz, Los Angeles Lakers, and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Westbrook’s contract with the Jazz was for the final year of a five-year contract he signed before the 2018-19 season with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Westbrook’s salary for the 2022-23 season was $47.1 million, which is second only to Steph Curry’s $48 million deal with the Golden State Warriors.
After a tumultuous first season with the Lakers, Westbrook opted into the final year of his contract.
However, Westbrook reportedly plans to sign with the Los Angeles Clippers following a contract buyout with the Utah Jazz.
According to Westbrook’s agent, Jeff Schwartz, Utah is expected to complete a $47 million buyout, the full amount remaining on Westbrook’s expiring deal.
Westbrook is expected to clear waivers and return to LA with a different team.
It is still being determined how much of Westbrook’s 2022-23 salary he will give back to complete a buyout agreement with the Jazz.
Westbrook, a nine-time All-Star and two-time NBA scoring champion will join former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate Paul George on a Clippers team expected to contend for an NBA title.
Westbrook is averaging 15.9 points, 7.5 assists, and 6.2 rebounds per game this season.
Damian Lillard – 5-year, $195,465,463
Damian Lillard, a six-time All-Star, signed a two-year max extension with the Portland Trail Blazers worth $225 million through the 2026-27 season. The extension includes a player option for the 2026-27 season.
Here are the details of Lillard’s contract:2019-2020: $29,802,321
- 2020-2021: $31,626,953
- 2021-2022: $43,750,000
- 2022-2023: $42,492,492
- 2023-2024: $45,640,084
- 2024-2025: $48,787,676
- 2025-2026: $58,545,211
- 2026-2027: $63,228,828 (player option)
Lillard’s extension makes him one of the highest total earners in NBA history, with an estimated $451 million in career earnings.
His career on-court earnings will reach $450 million through the expiration of his contract in 2027, which ranks behind only Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry.
Kyrie Irving – 4-year, $141,000,000 (estimated)
Kyrie Irving signed a 4-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets in 2019.
The contract was worth $136,490,600, with an annual average salary of $34,122,650.
The contract included $136,490,600 guaranteed.
Irving is currently in the final year of this contract.
According to Bobby Marks, Irving’s contract includes $1,000,000 in unlikely incentives broken into eight $125,000 bonuses.
There have been reports that Irving may sign with the Dallas Mavericks.
If Irving opts to stay in Dallas, the Mavericks can offer him a significant amount of money because they hold his Bird rights.
The Mavericks could offer Irving a two-year, $86.24 million extension, which is well below his market value.
However, a four-year deal could net Irving $210.11 million, and he is eligible for a five-year, $272.92 million maximum contract if he re-signs with the Mavericks.
Jrue Holiday – 4-year, $134,900,000 (estimated)
Jrue Holiday signed a 4-year contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks on September 22, 2022. The contract is worth at least $134 million.
Here are some details about the contract:
- Total value: $134,997,333
- Guaranteed money: $134,997,333
- Annual average salary: $33,749,333
- Base salary in 2023-24: $34,954,667
- Cap hit in 2023-24: $36,861,707
- Dead cap value in 2023-24: $34,954,667
It’s worth noting that Jrue Holiday previously signed a 5-year, $126 million contract with the New Orleans Pelicans in 2017.
However, he was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks in 2020 and signed a new contract extension with them in 2022.
Fred VanVleet – 4-year, $85,000,000
Fred VanVleet is a basketball player who signed a 4-year, $85,000,000 contract with the Toronto Raptors.
The contract includes $85,000,000 guaranteed and an annual average salary of $21,250,000.
In the 2022-23 season, VanVleet will earn a base salary of $21,250,000; in the 2023-24 season, he will earn a base salary of $22,824,074.
The contract has a dead cap value of $22,824,074.
There were rumors that VanVleet turned down a four-year, $114 million contract extension offer from the Raptors before the 2022-23 season.
However, VanVleet denied these rumors and stated that he was never made a formal offer.
He also mentioned that it was a mutual decision by both sides to wait it out and that he has a player option in his contract this summer.
VanVleet is a point guard for the Toronto Raptors and has played in 55 of the Raptors’ 75 games, including last year’s playoff series.
He is approaching 30 years old and has carried a tremendous workload in recent years.
Lonzo Ball – 4-year, $85,000,000 (estimated)
Lonzo Ball is a basketball player who signed a 4-year contract with the Chicago Bulls in a sign-and-trade agreement worth $85,000,000.
Here are some details about his contract:
- Team: Chicago Bulls
- Duration: 4 years
- Value: $85,000,000
- Annual average salary: $20,000,000
- Guaranteed money: $80,000,000
- Bonuses: His contract includes $1,000,000 in unlikely bonuses per season
- Dead cap value: $20,465,117
It’s worth noting that Lonzo Ball was previously signed with the New Orleans Pelicans before joining the Chicago Bulls.
Kyle Lowry – 3-year, $85,000,002
Kyle Lowry signed a three-year, $85 million contract with the Miami Heat in August 2021.
The contract is fully guaranteed and includes an annual average salary of $28,333,334.
Lowry will earn $28,333,334 in the 2022-23 season, $29,682,540 in the 2023-24 season, and $0 in the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons.
The contract is fully guaranteed, meaning Lowry will receive $85 million regardless of his performance or other factors.
Lowry joined the Miami Heat via a sign-and-trade deal that sent Goran Dragic and Precious Achiuwa to the Toronto Raptors.
Lowry is a veteran guard who spent the previous nine seasons of his career with the Toronto Raptors, where he helped the team win an NBA title in 2019.
The astronomical figures associated with these NBA contracts underscore the immense value these players bring to their teams and the league.
These deals are not just about the money; they represent a commitment between the player and the franchise, a testament to their mutual belief in each other’s potential.
As we’ve seen with players like Stephen Curry, Luka Doncic, and Trae Young, these contracts often result in long-term relationships that can shape the destiny of a franchise.
As the NBA grows in popularity and profitability, we can expect these numbers to rise even further, setting new precedents in professional sports.