Stephen Curry has achieved more success on the basketball court than LeBron James this season, but the Cleveland Cavaliers’ star remains the NBA’s biggest winner off the court. While Curry became the first ever unanimous MVP and led the Golden State Warriors to the best record in league history, James is in the NBA Finals after making a salary twice the size of the Golden State Warriors’ point guard.
Signing a two-year contract worth nearly $47 million last summer, James earned $22,970,500 in his second season back with the Cavaliers. James’ deal includes an opt-out clause for this offseason, and he’ll likely agree to a new contract that will pay him even more to remain with Cleveland next year.
Only Kobe Bryant made more money than James this season, and the four-time MVP will likely earn the NBA’s highest salary next year. While the Cavs are paying James the maximum salary, the Warriors are reaping the benefits of the contract they gave Curry nearly four years ago, giving them arguably the biggest bargain in American sports.
Coming off a season in which he missed 56 games because of injury, Curry signed a four-year extension worth $44 million in 2012. All he’s done since then is hit more three-pointers than anyone in the NBA, make three All-Star teams and win two MVP awards. The deal paid Curry $11,370,786this season, and he’s set to make $12,112,359 next year before becoming a free agent in 2017.
He’s been the NBA’s top performer for the last two years, but Curry isn’t even close to being the highest-paid player on his team. Golden State paid four players more money than Curry this season, with Klay Thompson owning the team’s largest salary at $15.5 million. Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala all made more from the Warriors than Curry during his unanimous MVP season.
Curry’s salary ranks him behind 53 other NBA players, including four Cleveland players. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love both made more money this season than any Warrior, and Tristan Thompson’s $14.26 million salary is equal to what Green made. Green finished seventh in MVP voting, and Thompson started 34 of 82 regular-season games.
In addition to their salaries, James and Curry each pull a hefty sum from endorsements. According to Forbes, James leads all NBA players with $48 million in endorsements this year, while Curry is making an extra $12 million from sponsorships.
Both James and Curry will be free agents in 2017, and the new NBA salary cap will allow them to make exponentially more money than they are earning this season. With the salary cap potentially reaching $108 million in a little over a year, James could make more than $35 million in 2017 and Curry could sign a five-year deal worth approximately $175 million.