Max-Salary Players And Their Widely Varying Deals

August 4 2013 at 7:29pm CST By Chuck Myron

John Wall became the latest NBA player to get a maximum-salary contract this week, signing a lucrative extension with the Wizards that will kick in for the 2014/15 season. The deal puts Wall among an elite group, even though it's a collection of players that doesn't quite register as a "Who's Who" of NBA stars. Only half of the 16 players with max deals are among the 15 players who made All-NBA teams this past season. The most notable exception is LeBron James, who took less than the max to sign with Miami in 2010 and has given the Heat two titles and two MVP seasons on a discount.

Kobe Bryant, another First Team All-NBA selection, will be the highest-paid player in the NBA this coming season, due a whopping $30,453,805 salary. Still, the three-year extension he's finishing up this year wasn't worth quite as much as he could have earned. He made $24,806,250 in 2010/11, the final season under the initial terms of his contract. The Lakers could have given him an extension with a 10.5% raise for 2011/12 under the terms of the old collective bargaining agreement, but they gave him a roughly 1.8% raise instead.

The maximum salary isn't a static figure, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors explained last year. Instead, different players qualify for different maxes depending on their years of service, what they made on their previous contracts, and whether they re-sign with their old teams or jump to new ones. Some of the terms defining the maximum salary changed under the new CBA, causing yet more variance among the value of the max contracts on the books. Marc Gasol's deal, worth about $57.5MM, is for the max, just like Joe Johnson's nearly $124MM contract.

Technically, the Grizzlies could have signed Gasol for five years instead of four, but because the salaries he's earning in each year of the contract are the greatest amounts they could have given him, we'll count Gasol as a max player. There's quite a bit of gray area when it comes to determining who's getting the max, including negotiable points like options, trade kickers, and no-trade clauses, all of which can make an offer more or less attractive. In spite of those caveats, here's a list of the existing max players in the NBA, in descending order of contract value:

  • Joe Johnson, Nets — Six years, $123,658,089: Signed in July 2010 to a starting salary worth 30% of the salary cap, with raises worth 10.5% of the starting salary.
  • Chris Paul, Clippers — Five years, $107,343,475: Signed in July 2013 to a starting salary worth 105% of his 2012/13 pay, with raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.
  • Deron Williams, Nets — Five years, $98,772,325: Signed in July 2012 to a starting salary worth 105% of his 2011/12 pay, with raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.
  • Blake Griffin, Clippers — Five years, $94,538,626: Signed in July 2012 to a rookie-scale extension, and qualified for a starting salary worth 30% of the salary cap via the Derrick Rose rule. Deal includes raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.
  • Derrick Rose, Bulls — Five years, $94,314,380: Signed in December 2011 to a rookie-scale extension, and qualified for a starting salary worth 30% of the salary cap via the eponymous Derrick Rose rule. Deal includes raises worth 7.5% raises of the starting salary.
  • Kevin Durant, Thunder — Five years, $89,163,134: Signed in July 2010 to a rookie-scale extension, and qualified for a starting salary worth 30% of the salary cap via the Derrick Rose rule. Deal includes raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.1
  • Dwight Howard, Rockets — Four years, $87,591,270: Signed in July 2013 to a starting salary worth 105% of his 2012/13 pay, with raises worth 4.5% of the starting salary.
  • Rudy Gay, Raptors — Five years, $82,302,690: Signed in July 2010 to a starting salary worth 25% of the salary cap, with raises worth 10.5% of the starting salary.2
  • James Harden, Rockets — Five years, $78,782,188: Signed in October 2012 to a rookie scale extension with a starting salary worth 25% of the salary cap, with raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.
  • Russell Westbrook, Thunder — Five years, $78,595,312: Signed in January 2012 to a rookie-scale extension with a starting salary worth 25% of the salary cap, with raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.3
  • Carmelo Anthony, Knicks — Three years, $67,222,422: Signed an extension with a starting salary worth 110.5% of his 2011/12 pay, with raises worth 10.5% of the starting salary.4
  • Kevin Love, Timberwolves — Four years, $60,825,938: Signed in January 2012 to a rookie-scale extension with a starting salary worth 25% of the salary cap, with raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.5
  • Eric Gordon, Pelicans — Four years, $58,365,563: Signed an offer sheet in July 2012 with the Suns with a starting salary worth 25% of the salary cap, with raises worth 4.5% of the starting salary. The Pelicans matched.
  • Roy Hibbert, Pacers — Four years, $58,365,563: Signed in July 2012 to a starting salary worth 25% of the salary cap, with raises worth 4.5% of the starting salary.6
  • Marc Gasol, Grizzlies — Four years, $57,503,764: Signed in December 2011 to a starting salary worth 25% of the salary cap, with raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.7
  • John Wall, Wizards — Five years, TBA: Signed in July 2013 to a starting salary worth either 25% or 30% of the salary cap, depending on whether he qualifies for the Derrick Rose rule. The deal will have raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.

Notes

  1. Durant and the Thunder agreed to the extension before the Derrick Rose rule came into existence, and the league recently decided to give the Thunder about half the difference between the 30% max Durant is making and the 25% max he would have gotten if the Rose rule didn't exist. Durant is also getting raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary in the extension, rather than the 10.5% he could have gotten under the terms of the CBA in place when the deal was struck.
  2. Gay's deal could have been for six years.
  3. Westbrook qualified for a starting salary worth 30% of the salary cap through the Derrick Rose rule, but his agreement with the Thunder held that he would receive a starting salary worth 25% of the cap regardless.
  4. Anthony's extension could have been for five years.
  5. Love's extension could have been for five years.
  6. Hibbert agreed to sign an offer sheet with the Blazers for the most Portland (or any team other than the Pacers) could have given him, but the Pacers indicated they would match. Rather than sign the offer sheet, Hibbert simply inked a contract with the same terms from the Pacers, who could have given him five years and raises worth 7.5% of the starting salary.
  7. Gasol's deal could have been for five years.

ShamSports was used in the creation of this post.

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