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NBA Player Salaries

NBA player salaries are regulated under the collective bargaining agreement. Remember when the NBA went on strike?

One of the major issues every time a professional league does go on strike, it’s due to the collective bargaining agreement.

The collective bargaining agreement basically ensures that there will be a level playing field and competitive teams. The agreement states how much players can be paid.

One useful resource the NBA has under their collective bargaining agreement is pre-defined salaries for NBA rookies based on their draft position. This handy pre-defined salary prevents rookies from holding out like NFL rookies often do.

The NBA also uses a salary cap. Baseball is the only major professional sport in the United States that does not use a salary cap. The salary cap is a set price the team is not supposed to go over.

Now there is a difference between a hard and soft salary cap. A hard cap states no team can go over the salary cap amount, not even a penny! With a soft cap, teams may go over the salary cap but must pay penalties or in the NBA’s case, luxury tax for abusing the salary cap.

The NBA franchise with the highest payroll is owned by none other than multi-billionaire and famous owner, Mark Cuban. Cuban’s Mavericks currently pay over 97 million to players.

The Cavaliers (90 million), Celtics (90 million), Pistons (87 million), and Bulls (79 million) currently have the five highest payrolls in the league. The Hawks, Nuggets, and Bobcats also violate the NBA luxury tax. Interesting enough, three of those teams are under or borderline .500 (Pistons, Bulls, and Bobcats).

The highest individual paid players in the NBA are:


1) Kevin Garnett (Boston) $24,751,934
2) Jason Kidd (Dallas) $21,372,000
and Jermaine O’Neal (Miami) $21,372,000
4) Kobe Bryant (LA Lakers) $21,262,500
5) Shaquille O’Neal (Phoenix) $21,000,000
6) Allen Iverson (Detroit) $20,840,625
and Stephon Marbury (New York) $20,840,625
8) Tim Duncan (San Antonio) $20,598,704
9) Tracy McGrady (Houston) $20,370,437
10) Ray Allen (Boston) $18,388,430
11) Dirk Nowitzki (Dallas) $18,077,904
12) Paul Pierce (Boston) $18,077,903
13) Shawn Marion (Toronto) $17,810,000
14) Rashard Lewis (Orlando) $16,447,871
15) Michael Redd (Milwaukee) $15,780,000
16) Pau Gasol (LA Lakers) $15,106,000
and Andrei Kirilenko (Utah) $15,106,000
18) Amare Stoudemire (Pho.) $15,070,550
and Yao Ming (Houston) $15,070,550
20) Mike Bibby (Atlanta) $14,983,603

Amazingly, the sixth highest paid player in the NBA, Stephon Marbury, has yet to suit up for the Knicks this season due to disagreements with the Knicks. Also, Tracy McGrady is finished for the season due to an injury.


The highest NBA player salaries by position are:


Point Guard

Jason Kidd, Stephon Marbury, Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, and Steve Nash.

Shooting Guard

Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady, Ray Allen, and Joe Johnson.

Small Forward

Paul Piece, Shawn Marion, Andrei Kirilenko, Lebron James, and Carmelo Anthony.

Power Forward

Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, and Amare Stoudemire.


Jermaine O’Neal, Shaquille O’Neal, Yao Ming, Rasheed Wallace, and Dwight Howard.

The NBA has a rather difficult current collective bargaining agreement when it comes to getting rid of undesirable players. When a player signs a new contract, he is entitled to every single dollar from that franchise until they trade him away for another player or draft pick.

It becomes very difficult to move a player like Stephon Marbury who is making a lot of money for sitting on the bench. If the NBA adopted a policy like the NFL, the team could cut Marbury and only have to pay him the signing bonus.

The rest of the money would only be guaranteed for that year. In the current NBA collective bargaining agreement, the team can part ways with Marbury but they owe him every single dollar he signed for, which means they would essentially continue to pay a player who doesn’t even play for the franchise anymore.


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