The barrage of early signings on Day One of the NBA’s free agency period included some hefty numbers. There was the estimated $145 million deal Anthony Davis reached with New Orleans, the $120 million extension the Trail Blazers are working on with Damian Lillard, the Cavs coming to terms with Kevin Love for $110 million, and the five-year, $95 million contract the Bulls handed Jimmy Butler.
Millions are pouring into players’ pockets, but the contracts can’t be signed just yet. The NBA has a league-wide moratorium on new deals that won’t be lifted until July 9. Furthermore, in the case of Davis and Lillard, there deals won’t take effect until the 2016-17 season.
Thus the players who are scheduled to make the most in the 2015-16 season didn’t even sign a single contract Wednesday.
A few things to note before the list: Six players missed significant time last season due to injuries, Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant is the highest-paid player in the league for the second straight year, and the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers each have two players in the top 10, based off the latest figures via HoopsHype.com.
Also NBA finalists, the champion Golden State Warriors and the runner-up Cleveland Cavaliers, don’t’ have a single player in the top 10. But once the full figures of Love’s new deal are known and LeBron James signs his new contract with Cleveland both are likely to move into the top 10.
1.Kobe Bryant, SG, Los Angeles Lakers $25 million
In what could be his final NBA season, Bryant enters the final year of his two-year, $48.5 million extension and just edges out the next player on this list. Soon to be 37, Bryant’s played a total of 41 games the last two seasons, and his health and whether the Lakers are getting their money’s worth will be a story throughout next season.
2.Joe Johnson, SG, Brooklyn Nets $24.9 million
Johnson’s scoring average has declined over the last three seasons, but he’s still one of the top all-around scorers in the league. He’s in the last year of the $123 million deal inked with Atlanta that was eventually moved to Brooklyn. The Nets are reportedly shopping Johnson as his expiring deal will help teams free up cap room in 2016.
3.Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks $22.9 million
Anthony appeared in only 40 games last season due to a knee injury and the Knicks dropped to the bottom of the Eastern Conference. But he should be healthy when next season rolls around. Anthony’s pricey contract does make it difficult for New York to rebuild on the fly, but he’s a star with incredible scoring abilities.
4.Dwight Howard, C, Houston Rockets $22.4 million
Another star who missed half the season with a knee injury, Howard earns his living by owning the paint with career averages of 18.1 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. A healthy Howard coupled with MVP-runner up James Harden should make Houston a contender once again next season.
5.Chris Bosh, PF, Miami Heat $22.1 million
A blood clot that could have been life-threatening derailed Bosh’s second half of the season, and it was a shame because Miami looked poised to make a run with he and Dwyane Wade. Earning his 10th straight All-Star nod, Bosh put up 21.1 points and 7.0 rebounds per game.
6.Chris Paul, PG, Los Angeles Clippers $21.5 million
As the highest-earning point guard in the league, Paul is arguably worth every penny. Playing in all 82 regular season games and leading the Clippers to the second-round of the postseason, Paul led the NBA in assists for the second consecutive season with 10.2 per game and chipped in 19.1 points with 1.9 steals.
7.Kevin Durant, SF, Oklahoma City Thunder $21.2 million
The former MVP only appeared in 27 games due to a chronic foot injury that required surgery, and the Thunder missed the postseason for the first time in six years without him. Durant’s one of the game’s best shooters and a four-time league scoring champion. When he returns OKC will be contenders again, but his contract expires after next season and whether he remains with the Thunder or leaves will be a major storyline.
8.Deron Williams, PG, Brooklyn Nets $21 million
Like his Nets teammate, Williams’ scoring has plummeted the last two years but Brooklyn can’t trade the struggling point guard because he owns a $22.3 million option for the 2016-17 season.
9.Derrick Rose, PG, Chicago Bulls $20 million
Injuries have plagued Rose the last three years, but when his knees are healthy he’s one of the most electric players in the league and makes Chicago a title threat in the East. He and Butler make up one of the best backcourts in the league.
10.Blake Griffin, PF, Los Angeles Clippers $18.9 million
Another star who sat out 15 games with an elbow injury, Griffin routinely provides eye-popping highlights but has also become a better all-around scorer. He also shined during the playoffs, upping his stats to 25.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, and 6.1 assists per game.