With the NBA’s salary cap increasing by $22 million this summer, the league’s top 10 highest-paid players list has equal parts new, old, and surprising faces. The NBA’s new television rights deal (tied with the agreed upon revenue split between the players’ union and owners in the collective bargaining agreement) begins in the upcoming 2016-17 season and the extra revenue lifted the salary cap from $72 million to $94 million for every team.
The influx of cash, as well as the high number of the league’s best and mid-level players due for extensions or new contracts, resulted in some mind-boggling salaries for next season and beyond.
It’s also translated into six new players ranking as one of the 10 highest paid in the league. Following Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s retirement and the infusion of TV money, only four players return from last season’s list of the best compensated in the NBA.
Along with five players tying for the top spot, a few other facts stand out in the list below. Teams are paying a massive premium for scoring with four of the top 10 also ranking in the top 10 in points per game last season. Six of the 10 spots belong to perimeter players, and only two centers made the top 10. Also, the difference between No. 1 and No. 10 is only $3,359,825, according to Spotrac.com.
Only one Golden State Warrior made the list while the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers currently don’t own a spot in the top 10, but that will likely change once the Cavs work out a new deal with LeBron James.
Highest Paid NBA Players For 2016-17 Season
T1.James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets: $25.6 million
Enjoying a huge $11 million salary bump after signing a four-year, $118.1 million extension with Houston, Harden figures to remain apart of the top 10 for quite a while with his average salary over the life of the deal pegged at $29.5 million. Last season he recorded new career-highs with 29.0 points and 7.5 assists per game while leading the league in minutes.
T1.Al Horford, C, Boston Celtics: $25.6 million
The first of several players to benefit tremendously from the cap increase, Horford became Boston’s biggest free agent acquisition in decades and has held steady as one of the best two-way forwards in the league for the better part of a decade. It does feel like Boston’s overpaying, but so are many teams under the new cap.
T1.Mike Conley, PG, Memphis Grizzlies: $25.6 million
Technically, Conley inked the richest contract in league history with $152.6 million guaranteed over five years and an average salary of $30.5 million. Not bad for a player who’s averaged 13.6 points, 5.6 assists, and 1.5 steals per game for his nine-year career.
T1.DeMar DeRozan, SG, Toronto Raptors: $25.6 million
It seemed highly unlikely DeRozan was going to leave Toronto as he helped it reach the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time by putting up a career-best 23.5 points per game and made his second All-Star game.
1.Kevin Durant, SF/SG, Golden State Warriors: $25.6 million
Though he only signed up for two years and will probably exercise his option after next season to cash in even more, the four-time scoring champion Durant shifted power in the Western Conference even more to the Warriors. Keep in mind, eventually Durant will average well more than $30 million a season.
6.Carmelo Anthony, SF, New York Knicks: $24.5 million
Anthony missed half of last season and the Knicks didn’t make the playoffs, but assuming he’s healthy and New York’s trade for point guard Derrick Rose, that should change.
7.Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers: $24.3 million
Lillard helped the Trail Blazers overachieve after losing LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs last summer, and he certainly earned his deal by finishing sixth in the league in scoring with 25.1 points and tied for eighth with 6.8 assists a contest.
8.Chris Bosh, PF, Miami Heat: $23.7 million
Bosh was on pace for another excellent season but a still mysterious injury or blood clotting issue leaves the rest of the 32-year-old’s career in doubt.
9.Dwyane Wade, SG, Chicago Bulls: $23.2 million
The three-time NBA champ left the only team he’s ever known to head home to Chicago, who also agreed to pay him the salary he felt Miami owed him after taking less money over the years so they could sign Bosh and LeBron James.
10.Dwight Howard, C, Atlanta Hawks: $23.1 million
Howard put up 13.7 points a game last season, his lowest mark since his 2004-05 rookie campaign, and for a player who was once the most feared rim protector in the league, he’s averaged less than 1.8 blocks a contest the last three seasons. But Atlanta overpaid for his services and will enrich Howard by $70.5 million over the next three years. Over 12 seasons, Howard’s already earned $167 million.