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What is the NBA maximum salary? (2023)

What is the maximum salary an NBA player can make per season?

The max salary depends on many factors, including: how many years of experience the player has; how many years he has been on the same team, which team he signs with, awards/achievements in previous seasons, as well as the current NBA salary cap.

Of course, it also depends a bit on the player’s (or his agent’s) negotiation skills.

Example: In the summer of 2023, Jaylen Brown signed a 5-year, $304 million “supermax” deal with the Celtics. He has played his entire 7 year career with Boston, and made the All-NBA 2nd Team in 2022-2023, which qualified him for the extravagant amount.

In this post, we take a detailed look at the maximum salaries in the NBA, including:

Let’s get started!

NBA Maximum Salary Rules

Jaylen Brown is quite happy he qualified for the NBA maximum salary

There are a few basic things that determine a player’s maximum possible salary in the NBA:

  • Years of Experience
  • Signing Team
  • Performance / Awards (i.e. Designated Players)
  • Salary Cap

Years of Experience

15-year vet Kevin Durant can make up to 35% of the salary cap

The main factor that determines a player’s maximum eligible salary is how many years of NBA experience he has.

Here is a basic chart that outlines how much a player can make as a percentage of the salary cap.

Years in NBASalary Cap %2023-2024 Max Salary
Less than 725%$34,005,250
7-9 years30%$40,806,300
10 or more35%$47,607,350
Note: NBA salary cap for 2023-2024 is set at $136.021 million

A player can potentially exceed the percentages listed above based on his previous contract.

He is allowed to earn up to 105% of the salary of the final year of his previous contract.

So, if this 105% amount is more than the limits listed above, then his maximum salary is allowed to be higher.

Also, only the first year of a contract is actually restricted to the maximum amounts listed above.

For multi-year contracts, the salary can increase each year by 5% to 8% depending on which team the player signs with. This brings us to the next point:

Signing Team

In 2019, Klay Thompson signed a 5-year extension with the Warriors

If a player signs a multi-year contract with a new team, he can receive a maximum yearly raise of 5%. The maximum length of the contract can be 4 years.

If he signs with his previous team, he can receive a maximum yearly raise of 8%. The length of the contract can be up to 5 years.

Example:
In 2019, Klay Thompson signed a 5-year, $189.9 million max contract with the Golden State Warriors. Since the Warriors were his previous team, he was able to get 8% raise each year. If he were to sign with any other team, he would have only been able to receive a 5% raise each year (and also only sign a 4-year deal).

Performance Criteria (i.e. Designated Players, “Supermax”)

MVP horse racer Nikola Jokic qualifies for the supermax

Players can actually qualify for an even HIGHER maximum salary than the amounts listed above.

To qualify, a player must achieve one of the three following items:

  • Make an All-NBA Team (First, Second, or Third) in the most recent season, OR two of the last three seasons
  • Win the Defensive Player of the Year award in the most recent season, OR two of the last three seasons
  • Win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in one of the three previous seasons

Eligible players that sign these higher max contracts are referred to as “Designated Players”, better known as “supermax” contracts.

There are two types of supermax contracts:

Rookie Supermax

Luka is happy about his money

Eligible players that are finishing their rookie contracts (or players with four years of experience), can get contracts with a starting salary worth up to 30% of the salary cap.

Typically, only players with 7-9 years of experience qualify for this amount.

Example: Luka Doncic rookie supermax extension
In 2021, Luka Doncic signed a 5-year, $207 million rookie supermax extension with the Dallas Mavericks. Luka made All-NBA First Team the previous season (as well as the two prior seasons), so he qualified for the supermax.

Designated Veterans

Former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo qualified for the veteran supermax

Players that have 7-9 years of experience can get “Designated Veteran” contracts with a starting salary worth up to 35% of the salary cap.

Typically, only players with 10+ years of experience qualify for this amount.

To qualify, the veterans must also have been with same team their entire career (unless they were traded during the first four years of their career).

Example: Giannis Antetokounmpo Supermax
In 2020, Giannis signed a 5-year, $228 million supermax contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks. The “Greek Freak” had just won MVP two years in a row, so he easily qualified for the higher maximum.

Salary Cap

Adam Silver and the NBA are making bank 💰

The players’ maximum salaries are all dependent on the NBA salary cap.

The salary cap is calculated each year based on projected income from the league (i.e. “Basketball related income” or BRI). This includes ticket sales, TV deals, sponsorships, etc. The projected income must be agreed upon by the league and player’s association (NBPA).

According to the latest CBA, the total salary cap is set at about 44% of projected income:

The Salary Cap for each Salary Cap Year covered by the Term of this Agreement will equal forty-four and seventy-four one hundredths percent (44.74%) of Projected BRI for such Salary Cap Year …

This amount is then divided equally by the number of teams (i.e. 30), to come up with the amount that each team is allowed to spend on salaries.

For the 2023-2024 season, this is equal to $136.021 million.

NBA salary cap by year

Here are the salary cap amounts each season since 2017-2018.

SeasonSalary cap
2017-18$99.093 million
2018-19$101.869 million
2019-20$109.140 million
2020-21$109.140 million
2021-22$112.414 million
2022-23$123.655 million
2023-24$136.021 million
Note: 2020-2021 did not have an increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Who is the highest paid player in the NBA?

Steph Curry sleeps well with his multiple championships, MVPs, and $50 MILLION salary.

The highest paid player in the NBA for the 2023-2024 season is Stephen Curry.

His salary is a whopping $51,915,615.

(Source – HoopsHype)

Who will be the highest paid NBA player in 2024?

Next season (2024-2025), Steph Curry will still be the highest paid player. His salary will be $55,761,217.

List of highest paid NBA players (2023-2024)

Here are the 10 highest paid players this season:

RankNameSalary
1Steph Curry$51,915,615
2Kevin Durant$47,649,433
3 (tied)Nikola Jokic$47,607,350
3 (tied)LeBron James$47,607,350
3 (tied)Joel Embiid$47,607,350
6Bradley Beal$46,741,590
7 (tied)Paul George$45,640,084
7 (tied)Kawhi Leonard$45,640,084
7 (tied)Giannis Antetokounmpo$45,640,084
7 (tied)Damian Lillard$45,640,084

👉 Check out the NBA Players page for a list of all salaries

What is the highest NBA salary EVER?

“I’m still number 1 (if we count inflation)!” — Michael Jordan

Steph Curry also currently has the highest NBA salary ever for one season ($51,915,615).

Unless something drastically changes, he will hold the record until 2025-2026, when his projected salary will be around $59 million.

In the 2026-2027 season, Damian Lillard is set to overtake Steph, and will have the highest single season NBA salary ever of over $63 million.

Highest Salary with Inflation

If we adjust for inflation, Michael Jordan has the highest NBA salary ever.

His 1997-1998 salary of $33,140,000 is equivalent to about $63,552,196 in 2023!

Interesting note: Michael Jordan’s salaries in 1996-97 and 1997-98 were higher than the entire team’s salary cap (about $27 million). 🐐💰

Who has the highest NBA career earnings?

LeBron is the king of NBA career salaries

LeBron James currently has the most career earnings in NBA history (by salary).

In 21 seasons, he has earned around $479,466,457 in salary alone. 🤯

Note: Michael Jordan is the first BILLIONAIRE NBA player, though most of it was made after he retired. He is currently worth around $3 billion! 🐐

FAQ

Why do NBA players get paid so much?

Supply and demand. The NBA has skyrocketed in popularity over the past couple decades. This means the league makes more income from TV deals, sponsorships, merchandise sales, ticket sales, etc.

The income is spread out to the teams, and thus to the players.

There are only about 450 full-time players in the league, and it has been that way since the last expansion in 1995. As a result, individual players are earning more and more!

How much does the average NBA player make?

The average NBA salary last season (2022-2023) was around $8 million.

The median NBA salary was around $5 million.

Check out this post for more about the “average” NBA salary

What is the lowest salary for an NBA player?

The minimum NBA salary for this season (2023-2024) is $1,119,563.

This is the amount paid to a full time NBA player with zero years of experience (i.e. a rookie).

Players that are on Two Way G League contracts, or only sign 10 day contracts will get paid much less.

Click here for more info about NBA minimum salaries.

Are NBA max contracts guaranteed?

It depends on each player’s individual negotiations. Typically though, max contracts are fully guaranteed.

Top tier players that qualify for maximum contracts will usually only sign for guaranteed money.

Click here for more info about guaranteed contracts in the NBA.

Can an NBA rookie get a max contract?

An NBA rookie that was a first round draft pick can only sign a contract based on the rookie salary scale.

For 2023-2024, the maximum first year salary of the 1st overall pick is $12,160,632.

Rookies that were 2nd round picks (or undrafted) have no restrictions, so could technically get a max contract (i.e. 25% of the salary cap). It has never happened before though. 😂

Click here for more info about NBA rookie contracts

Summary

What do you think about maximum salaries in the NBA?

Should the NBA get rid of the max salary cap, and see just how high salaries can get?

What would you do with all that dough? 💰💰💰

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below:

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Larry Lee

Larry Lee

Larry is a basketball addict, and the founder of Hoop Dojo. He started Hoop Dojo to share his love of the game and help the next generation reach their full potential.