Early Maximum Salary Projections For 2018/19

Under the NBA’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement, the maximum salary a player can earn is limited by a series of criteria that includes his years of NBA experience.

A player with no more than six years of NBA experience who is a free agent this offseason will be able to sign a deal starting at 25% of the salary cap; a player with between seven and nine years of NBA experience can have a starting salary of up to 30% of the cap; and a player with 10 or more years of experience can sign a contract starting at up to 35% of the cap.

There are a few exceptions to these rules. A player can sometimes jump into a higher maximum-salary group based on his career achievements. For instance, due to his track record of All-NBA nods, Kawhi Leonard will be eligible this offseason for a Designated Veteran Extension worth 35% of the cap, despite only having seven NBA seasons under his belt.

Additionally, the maximum salary a specific player is eligible for can sometimes exceed the league-wide limit. This is rare, but it may be the case for LeBron James this summer, since his $35,607,968 player option is higher than the projected league-wide max of $35,350,000. This can happen when a player’s annual raises (up to 8%) exceed the annual growth of the salary cap.

We go into much more detail on the rules surrounding maximum salaries in our glossary entry, so be sure to check out that article for more info. Today though, we want to focus on the current projections for maximum salaries in the 2018/19 season.

The NBA’s most recent salary cap projection for 2018/19 called for a cap of $101MM. That figure could fluctuate in the coming months, and won’t be set in stone until after the NBA Finals, but for now we’ll assume it ends up being accurate.

Listed below are the maximum contracts that this summer’s free agents could sign based on a $101MM cap. The first chart shows the maximum salaries for a player re-signing with his own team — a player’s previous team can offer five years instead of four, and 8% annual raises instead of 5% raises. The second chart shows the maximum salaries for a player re-signing with a new team.

As noted above, a player’s maximum salary is generally determined by his years of NBA experience, so there’s a wide gap between potential earnings for younger and older players. In the charts below, the “6 years or less” column details the maximum projected contracts for players like Aaron Gordon and Clint Capela; the “7-9 years” column applies to free agents like Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins; and the “10+ years” column applies to vets like Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan.

Here are the current maximum salary projections for 2018/19:

A player re-signing with his own team (8% annual raises, up to five years):

Year 6 years or less 7-9 years 10+ years
2018/19 $25,250,000 $30,300,000 $35,350,000
2019/20 $27,270,000 $32,724,000 $38,178,000
2020/21 $29,290,000 $35,148,000 $41,006,000
2021/22 $31,310,000 $37,572,000 $43,834,000
2022/23 $33,330,000 $39,996,000 $46,662,000
Total $146,450,000 $175,740,000 $205,030,000

A player signing with a new team (5% annual raises, up to four years):

Year 6 years or less 7-9 years 10+ years
2018/19 $25,250,000 $30,300,000 $35,350,000
2019/20 $26,512,500 $31,815,000 $37,117,500
2020/21 $27,775,000 $33,330,000 $38,885,000
2021/22 $29,037,500 $34,845,000 $40,652,500
Total $108,575,000 $130,290,000 $152,005,000
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