NBA Maximum Salary Projections For 2019/20

Earlier this year, Devin Booker signed a new five-year, maximum-salary contract extension with the Suns. That deal was reported as a $158MM agreement, but that number is just an estimate for now.

Because Booker’s new contract won’t go into effect until the 2019/20 season and the NBA won’t finalize the ’19/20 salary cap until the start of next year’s free agency, we can only ballpark what maximum-salary contracts will look like based on the NBA’s latest cap projections.

When the NBA confirmed its salary cap data for the 2018/19 season on June 30, the league also updated its cap projections for the following two years. The league’s current projection for the 2019/20 cap is $109MM, though that number could fluctuate over the course of the next 11 months or so.

For now, we’re basing our maximum-salary estimates on that presumed $109MM cap figure. Listed below are the early maximum-salary projections for 2019/20, based on a $109MM cap. The first chart shows the maximum salaries for a player re-signing with his own team — a player’s previous club 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 signing with a new team.

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. Unless they qualify for a more lucrative extension by meeting certain performance criteria, players with no more than six years of NBA experience are limited to a starting salary worth up to 25% of the cap. For players with seven to nine years of experience, that number is 30%. For players with 10 or more years of experience, it’s 35%.

Here are the the early max-salary projections for 2019/20:

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
2019/20 $27,250,000 $32,700,000 $38,150,000
2020/21 $29,430,000 $35,316,000 $41,202,000
2021/22 $31,610,000 $37,932,000 $44,254,000
2022/23 $33,790,000 $40,548,000 $47,306,000
2023/24 $35,970,000 $43,164,000 $50,358,000
Total $158,050,000 $189,660,000 $221,270,000

The “6 years or less” column here is what Booker’s new extension would look like. The second column reflects what players like Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson, and Kyrie Irving could get if they re-sign with their own teams as free agents next summer. The third column applies not just to players with 10+ years of experience, but also to players who meet the Designated Veteran Extension criteria, which Kawhi Leonard did before he was traded.

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

Year 6 years or less 7-9 years 10+ years
2019/20 $27,250,000 $32,700,000 $38,150,000
2020/21 $28,612,500 $34,335,000 $40,057,500
2021/22 $29,975,000 $35,970,000 $41,965,000
2022/23 $31,337,500 $37,605,000 $43,872,500
Total $117,175,000 $140,610,000 $164,045,000

If a player changes teams as a free agent, he doesn’t have access to a fifth year or 8% raises. So if Booker had opted to sign an offer sheet next summer, he would have been limited to a deal projected to be worth about $117MM. If Butler, Irving, Thompson, Leonard, and other veterans with between seven and nine years of NBA experience want to change teams in 2019, they’ll be limited to contracts in the $140MM range.

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