The NBA 2018-19 Season has already come to a close, and both team managers and players are busy with summer transfer activity. Let’s go through the top 20 highest-paid players’ salaries and their performances, to see if they were worth such high salaries!
1. Stephen Curry: $37.46 Million
It was no accident that the superstar of Golden State Warriors, Stephen Curry, topped the list of highest-paid players in Season 2018-19, for he has already led his team to three NBA championships. Curry has landed himself a five-year $201.16 million contract, which was the biggest one in NBA history at the time of its signing, and his salary is estimated at more than $40 million for Season 2019-20.
2. Lebron James & Russell Westbrook & Chris Paul: $35.65 Million
All belonging to Western Conference teams, James, Westbrook, and Paul, were tied for second in the rankings. As top stars in their respective teams, they’ve landed themselves big contracts with annual salaries of around $40 million on average. They all have player options as well, which means they have the right to decide to opt out of the team or make an extension after the contracts expire.
3. James Harden: $30.42 Million
With an average annual salary of $42.3 million, Harden signed up for another four years with the Houston Rockets, which makes him the highest-paid player in the league. However, he undoubtedly deserves this massive number because he finished the 2018-19 Season with excellent performances, and it was even the highest-scoring season in his career.
4. Kevin Durant: $30 Million
It was really worthwhile for the Warriors to have secured Kevin Durant, one of the most prolific scorers in NBA history, for only $61.5 million over two years. After the close of Season 2018-19, KD signed a 4-year contract with a stunning salary of $164 million with the Brooklyn Nets as a free agent. Hence Kyrie Irving, Deandre Jordan and him will make up the Nets’ Big Three, maybe they can bring the Nets an NBA title in 2020.
5. Blake Griffin: $32.09 Million
Only seven months after signing a huge contract with the Los Angeles Clippers, Blake Griffin was traded to Detroit Pistons in early 2018. And this hard-working Power Forward has the right to opt out of his 5-year $171.2 million deal following the 2020-2021 season. At that time, his salary will finally exceed $38 million.
6. Kyle Lowry: $31.2 Million
In the second season of his 3-year $100 million contract, Lowry won the championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. This means he gets a chance to earn $2 million in bonuses if he also makes his other targets, including: making the All-Star game, being named All-NBA and All-Defense, and playing in at least 65 games and averaging at least 25 minutes in each one.
7. Joel Embiid & Andrew Wiggins: $25.47 Million
Both insanely talented basketball players, Embiid, the Center for The Philadelphia 76ers, and Wiggins, the Small Forward for the Minnesota Timberwolves, received the same salary last season. They both signed a $147 million extension with their clubs in 2017, and are similarly set to make more than $33.6 million in the final season of their contracts.
8. Paul George: $30.56 Million
After re-signing with the Oklahoma City Thunder on a 4-year $136.91 million deal, the Point Guard gave a distinguished performance in Season 2018-19 and was on course for career highs in points and rebounds and at one point led the NBA in steals. George is now with the Los Angeles Clippers and he has a player option for the 2021-22 campaign.
9. Demar Derozan: $27.74 Million
The 5-year $139 million contract the Shooting Guard signed with his former club the Toronto Raptors was at the time the second-largest in the league’s history. Nevertheless in 2018 he was traded with Kawhi Leonard, who moved to the San Antonio Spurs, and Kawhi went on to lift the trophy with the Raptors in Season 2018-19. Was it destiny?
10. Gordon Hayward: $31.21 Million
As one of the biggest moves of the 2017 free agency, before Hayward got a chance to prove his worth, he got a season-ending ankle injury in his first game with the Boston Celtics. Despite securing a 4-year $127.83 million agreement, he didn’t get that much playing time in Season 2018-19, due to other younger Small Forward players in the team and his diminishing status. As a result, fans are worrying about his future.
11. Mike Conley: $30.52 Million
Conley has always been underrated. Fortunately, the team manager knew his value and paid him a suitable salary – a 5-year $152.61 million contract. Too many injured players in his former club, the Memphis Grizzlies, resulted in lack of competitiveness. Perhaps Conley can get better stats in Season 2019-20, after coming into a traditional powerhouse team, the Utah Jazz.
12. Paul Millsap: $29.23 Million
Millsap reached the Western Conference semifinals with the Denver Nuggets this season and suffered a loss to the Blazers at 3-4. Although the team did well, Millsap’s contribution was not all that outstanding. But still, his 2-year $61 million agreement with the Nuggets is a big deal. Let’s see if he can live up to it.
13. Al Horford: $28.93 Million
As the Boston Celtics, who already have superstars with top salaries like Irving and Hayward, didn’t have enough space in their salary cap for a contract extension, this All-Star Center decided to join the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent on a 4-year $109 million contract for Season 2019-20.
14. Damian Lillard: $27.98 Million
Combo Guard Lillard gave us a career-high performance in the first round of Season 2018-19’s playoffs, leading the Portland Trail Blazers directly to the Western finals. According to the terms on his contract, he will be eligible to hit the free-agent market for Season 2021-22.
15. Otto Porter JR.: $26.01 Million
The Washington Wizards’ former Small Forward plays for the Chicago Bulls now, on a 4-year $106.5 million deal. Owing to a recent injury, he only really showed up for half of the Season 2018-19, off and on. Hope he’ll be fit and firing for Season 2019-20.
16. Jrue Holiday: $25.98 Million
In spite of his identity as a Combo Guard, Holiday still needs a Point Guard who’s able to help him run the offense so that he can make full use of his scoring ability. There are a number of young players for the New Orleans Pelicans for Season 2019-20; therefore Holiday has to play the role of big brother, one who’s locked in a 5-year $132 million contract.
17. C.J. McCollum: $25.76 Million
As the other guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, McCollum, who’s also prolific scorer, has several goals for Season 2019-20, so that he can justify his big contract – a $106.6 million 4 year deal. He needs consistency, to up his defensive game, plus drive the team forward with Lillard.
18. Anthony Davis & Bradley Beal & Andre Drummond & Hassan Whiteside: $25.43 Million
Davis, Beal, Drummond, and Whiteside shared the same salary for Season 2018-19. Recently, Davis was traded from the Pelicans to the Lakers, and Whiteside was traded to the Blazers from the Miami Heat. If Beal and Drummond can’t make better contributions to their teams in Season 2019-20, they might suffer a similar fate.
19. Nikola Jokic: $24.61 Million
As a relatively rare European face in the league, Jokic plays as Center for the Denver Nuggets. Though his team was eliminated by the Blazers in the Western semifinals this year, fans are optimistic about this young man’s future. Jokic is currently in the middle of his 5-year $147.7 million extension, and his salary will reach $32.5 million in Season 2022-23.
20. Giannis Antetokounmpo & Steven Adams: $24.16 Million
The Greek Freak for the Milwaukee Bucks and Aquaman look-alike Steve Adams from the Thunder, were both selected in the 1st round in the 2013 draft and are both on 4-year $100 million contracts with their respective teams. Antetokounmpo was the 2019 NBA Most Valuable Player, and Adams has also performed to a high level. The future prospects of both young players look bright.