Who are the highest paid NBA players in 2021?
While the 2020/21 NBA season has been atypical due to the pandemic, that didn’t stop the top stars from earning seven-figure salaries. We look at the top earners.
The 2020/21 NBA season like last season's, has been affected by the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Revenue dropped 10% to $8.3 billion with an estimated $400 million in loss income from sponsorships and merchandise. Last year, the competition was officially suspended on 11 March after Utah Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell tested positive for Covid-19 just moments before the team’s meeting with Oklahoma City Thunder. The 2019/20 NBA season was due to be concluded on 15 April but because of the pandemic, it remained on hold until competition resumed on 30 July in a ‘bubble’ at Disney World in Orlando. The final eight games of the season were played with no fans in attendance – an instant loss of around 40% of the total revenue from gate receipts.
LeBron drops down the list of top earners in the NBA
According to Forbes, the top earner in the NBA in 2019/20 was LeBron James who earned $31.4 million just from his salary with Los Angeles Lakers – earnings which he was able to treble with sponsorship deals and other endorsements. However James, who enjoyed the honour of being the NBA’s top-earning star for six years running, has slipped down the table this year. His base salary for the 2020/21 season is $39,219,565 which sees him slip down to seventh in the list of high earners. However, James signed a two-year contract with the Lakers back in December 2020, in which he will boost his pay packet once again, earn a total of $85 million in the two seasons before his new arrangement expires in 2023, by which time he will be 38 and have earned over $435 million during his career in salaries alone.
This year, 22 NBA players will earn over $30 million. Topping the list is Stephen Curry, who is in the final year of his five-year contract with the Golden States Warriors with a base salary of $43,006,362, while carrying a cap hit of $43,006,362 and a dead cap value of $43,006,362 - almost 15 times what he was earning at entry level a decade ago.
Top 30 NBA salaries for 2020-2021 season*
1. Stephen Curry: $43,006,362
2. Chris Paul / Russell Westbrook: $41,358,814
3. James Harden / John Wall: $41,254,920
4. LeBron James: $39,219,566
5. Kevin Durant: $39,058,950
6. Blake Griffin: $36,810,996
7. Paul George: $35,450,412
8. Klay Thompson: $35,361,360
9. Mike Conley: $34,502,132
10. Kemba Walker: $34,379,100
*Figures according to hoopshype.com
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