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20 highest paid NBA players

Vincent Frank
NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Golden State Warriors
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Who are the 20 highest paid NBA players? Who is the highest paid NBA player in 2022? These are important questions to ask as the Association prepares for the 2022-23 season and plans for an increased salary cap.

There’s normal names to look at when checking in on those who are backing up the Brinks Truck every year.

It starts with Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, who just recently became the first NBA player to sign multiple $200-plus million contracts. Four-time champion LeBron James also remains one of the highest paid NBA players.

However, there’s also some youngsters on this list. Thats headlined by all-everything Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic. Below, we look at the 20 highest paid NBA players of 2022 with a positional break down at the bottom.

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1. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors (highest paid NBA player)

highest paid nba players: stephen curry
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
  • Stephen Curry contract: 4 years, $215.35 million
  • Stephen Curry salary (average): $54.84 million

Back in August of 2021, Curry became the first player in Association history to sign two NBA contracts worth north of $200 million. In doing so, the three-time champion set the bar in a big way. For Golden State, it’s not going to come cheap. Once Curry’s contract comes to a culmination in 2025-26, he’s going to count an eye-opening $59.61 million against the cap.

It’s not like Curry has not rewarded the Warriors’ billionaire ownes. He led Golden State to three titles and five NBA Finals appearances in a five-year span — helping the team build their new arena on the San Francisco water front. Yeah, Curry has been a boon for both Joe Lacob and Peter Guber.

2. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

highest paid nba players: joel embiid contract
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  • Joel Embiid contract: 4 years, $195.92 million
  • Joel Embiid salary (average): $48.98 million

No one could have envisioned that Embiid would be at where he is now after he missed his first two NBA season (2014-16) with a foot injury. Philadelphia’s first-round selection back in 2014, it’s been a long road to dominance for Embiid.

This past regular season saw the star center average a league-best 30.6 points to go with 11.7 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 50% from the field. He’s the single-most dominant center in the NBA since Shaquille O’Neal was starring for the Los Angeles Lakers. And he’s now being paid like it after signing an extension back in August of 2021.

3. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat

highest paid nba players: jimmy butler contract
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  • Jimmy Butler contract: 3 years, $146.40 million
  • Jimmy Butler salary (average): $48.80 million

The $146.4 million extension Miami signed Butler to back in August of 2021 threw some for a loop. He’s 32 years old and won’t see said contract come to an end until he’s 36 years old. In reality, Butler’s standing as of the highest paid NBA players could be a detriment to Miami moving forward.

As of right now, that has not happened. In leading the Heat to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference the six-time All-Star averaged 21.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 48% shooting during the 2021-22 regular season.

4. Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

highest paid nba players: kevin durant contract
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  • Kevin Durant contract: 4 years, $194.22 million
  • Kevin Durant salary (average): $48.55 million

It was somewhat of a surprise to see Durant sign this current contract last August. the two-time NBA Finals MVP would have earned a lot more money if he had waited until free agency this summer. Apparently, committing to the Nets without the drama of a free-agent chase was important to the all-time great.

At 33, Durant’s body is showing signs of breaking down. He missed 27 games to injury during the 2021-22 season and has suited up for all of 90 games since suffering a torn Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals.

Related: Top 2022 NBA free agents: Bradley Beal, Zach LaVine poised to cash in

5. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

highest paid nba players: giannis antetokounmpo contract
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  • Giannis Antetokounmpo contract: 5 years, $228.2 million
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo salary (average): $45.64 million

There was some talk of the Greek Freak wanting to take his talents to a larger market. That all came to an end when he signed this $228.2 million extension with Milwaukee in December of 2020. Months later, Giannis led his Bucks to the NBA title.

Now under contract through at least the 2024-25 season, he’s going to be a fixture in Wisconsin moving forward. Much to the glee of Bucks fans. The No. 15 overall pick of the Bucks back in 2013, Antetokounmpo is averaging 28.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists since the start of the 2017-18 season. Yeah, he’s a generational talent.

6. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers

highest paid nba players: paul george contract
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  • Paul George contract: 4 years, $176.3 million
  • Paul George salary (average): $44.07 million

Much like Durant, it was a surprise to see George sign a max contract with Los Angeles back in December of 2020. He could have earned a lot more cash if he had waited until the summer the following year.

Either way, George remains one of the best two-way forwards in the entire Association. Despite missing 51 games to injury during the 2021-22 regular season, George averaged 24.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 5.6 assists.

7. Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers

highest paid nba players: kawhi leonard contract
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  • Kawhi Leonard contract: 4 years, $176.27 million
  • Kawhi Leonard salary (average): $44.07 million

Even after suffering a partically torn ACL during the 2021 NBA Playoffs, the Clippers handed Leonard a super-max contract last summer. For good reason. The two-time NBA Finals MVP has been among the best three-and-D wings in modern NBA history throughout his career.

Leonard, 30, is averaging 24.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 6.6 assists on 49% shooting since the start of the 2015-16 season. Did we mention that he’s also a seven-time All-NBA Defensive Team performer? Yeah, this dude will be a first ballot Hall of Famer.

8. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

highest paid nba players: damian lillard contract
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  • Damian Lillard contract: 4 years, $176.27 million
  • Damian Lillard salary (average): $44.07 million

Lillard has an ability to opt out of his current contract following the 2023-24 season. After months of trade rumors as one of the highest paid NBA players, Lillard now seems to be committed to Portland over the long-term. All of this comes after the six-time All-Star missed all but 29 games during the 2021-22 season.

Whether Dame turns in Portland’s small market for a larger market moving forward remains to be seen. What we do know is that he’s been among the Association’s most loyal athletes. Will that continue with the Blazers in obvious rebuild mode following a plethora of NBA trade deadline deals?

Related: Top 50 NBA players of 2022

9. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

highest paid nba players: lebron james contract
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  • LeBron James contract: 2 years, $85.66 million
  • LeBron James salary (average): $42.83 million

LeBron James’ contract situation has been a major talking point since his Lakers finished up shop on a disastrous 49-loss 2021-22 campaign. James, 37, is set to become a free agent following the 2022-23 season. He can become one of the highest paid NBA players via a contract extension this summer. Said deal would pay the four-time champion $50 million annually by the time he’s 40.

Despite his Lakers struggles, James continues to play at a high level. He averaged 30.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.2 assists on 52% shooting for the Lakers in 2021-22. James also missed 26 games to injury after sitting out 27 games the previous season. Is his body breaking down on the all-time great? Time will tell on that front.

10. James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers

highest paid nba players: james harden
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  • James Harden contract: 4 years, $171.13 million
  • James Harden salary (average): $42.78 million

At one point the highst paid player in the NBA, Harden now ranks 10th on this list less than five years after signing the deal with his former Rockets squad. He does have a player option of $47.37 million for the 2022-23 season, one that Harden agreed to pick up when he was dealt from the Brooklyn Nets to the Philadelphia 76ers back in February.

A bucket, as the kids say today, Harden is averaging 29.8 points and 9.0 assists since the start of the 2015-16 season. He led the NBA in scoring three consecutive years (2017-20) and can still score with the best of them. However, conditioning and injuries remain an issue as Harden prepares for his Age-33 season.

11. John Wall, Houston Rockets

highest paid nba players: john wall contract
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  • John Wall contract: 4 years, $171.13 million
  • John Wall salary (average): $42.78 million

Potentially the worst contract in NBA history, Wall signed his current deal with the Washington Wizards back in July of 2017. He’s played a total of 113 games since then and sat out the entire 2021-22 campaign after failing to come to an agreement on a role with the Houston Rockets.

Houston had initially acquired Wall in a trade with the Washington Wizards for another one of the highest paid NBA players, Russell Westbrook, ahead of the 2020-21 season. He now has a $47.37 million player option for 2022-23 — one that Wall will obviously pick up.

12. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

highest paid nba players: luka doncic contract
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  • Luka Doncic contract: 5 years, $212.28 million
  • Luka Doncic salary (average): $42.46 million

Doncic’s ability to become one of the highest paid NBA players last summer was made possible by the fact that he earned All-NBA honors twice within his first three NBA seasons. For the Mavericks, there’s not going to be any complaints from billionaire owner Mark Cuban. Throughout his first four seasons in the Association, Doncic averaged 26.4 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.5 assists. He’s going to be one of the future faces of the NBA once the old-timers listed here calls it quits. Take that to the bank.

Related: NBA trade rumors, latest buzz before busy 2022 offseason

13. Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers

highest paid nba players: russell westbrook contract
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  • Russell Westbrook contract: 5 years, $206.79 million
  • Russell Westbrook salary (average): $41.36 million

Well, isn’t this fun? Imagine collecting a check the size that is cut to Westbrook on an annual basis despite being largely considered average at your job. That’s what the Los Angeles Lakers have to decide following a disastrous first season with the team. Westbrook, 33, will pick up the otherworldly $47.06 million option on his contract for next season. At that point, the Lakers might simply decide to waive the struggling veteran. Boy, how the mighty have fallen.

14. Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

highest paid nba players: rudy gobert
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
  • Rudy Gobert contract: 5 years, $205 million
  • Rudy Gobert salary (average): $41 million

Gobert has come a long way from averaging 2.3 points during his rookie season back in 2013-14. The France native and former late first-round pick has now earned three consecutive All-Star appearances and is a three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The question now becomes how much longer “The Stifle Tower” will remain with the Jazz. Rumors suggest a trade could be in the cards during the summer. Signed to his current extension back in December of 2020, Gobert is due $116 million over the next three seasons wih a player option of $46.66 million in 2025-26.

15. Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

highest paid nba players: klay thompson contract
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  • Klay Thompson contract: 5 years, $189.90 million
  • Klay Thompson salary (average): $37.98 million

After missing two full seasons to injury, Thompson returned with a bang in 2021-22. The three-time NBA champion actually averaged his highest point total per 36 minutes in his career. Over his final 11 regular season games, Thompson averaged 27.3 points on 42% shooting from distance. One of the best three-point shooters in NBA history, Klay is under contract for the next two seasons with a combined cost of $83-plus million. That’s a lot of cash for a 32-year-old guard coming off two serious injuries.

Related: 2022 NBA mock draft, full 2-round version

16. Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

highest paid nba players: anthony davis contract
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  • Anthony Davis contract: 5 years, $189.90 million
  • Anthony Davis salary (average): $37.98 million

As one of the highest paid NBA players, Davis has not necessarily lived up to that billing since helping Los Angeles to the title following the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season. Davis has missed 78 games to injury over the past two seasons. There’s now rumors that the Lakers could look to trade him With $78-plus million due over the next two seasons and a player option of $43.22 million in 2024-25.

17. Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

highest paid nba players: tobias harris contract
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  • Tobias Harris contract: 5 years, $180 million
  • Tobias Harris salary (average): $36 million

Underrated. That’s the best way to describe Harris. While it’s fair to question whether Harris should be among the 20 highest paid NBA players today, all he does is produce at a high level. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, this former first-round pick out of Tennessee is averaging 19.0 points and 6.8 rebounds on 39% shooting from distance. The only issue here is that the 29-year-old Harris has two years remaining on his contract at nearly $77 million. It’s led to increased chatter that Philadelphia will look to trade the forward during the summer.

18. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Golden State Warriors
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  • Khris Middleton contract: 5 years, $177.5 million
  • Khris Middleton salary (average): $35.5 million

A second-round pick of the Detroit Pistons back in 2012, Middleton is a prime example of hard work paying off in the checking account. The former Texas A&M star averaged 6.1 points with the Pistons his rookie season (that’s a thing). Since then, he’s morphed into one of the better three-and-D wings in the game — averaging 19.9 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists on 39% shooting from distance since the start of the 2017-18 season. In short, the Bucks wouldn’t be where they are now if the Pistons had not traded him to Milwauee ahead of the 2013-14 campaign.

19. Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets

highest paid nba players: ben simmons contract
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  • Ben Simmons contract: 5 years, $177.24 million
  • Ben Simmons salary (average): $35.45 million

Here’s a thing. Simmons has actually been fined north of $15 million by his former Philadelphia 76ers team since he last suited up in an NBA game. Of course, that stems from the three-time All-Star remaining away from Philadelphia before being dealt to the Nets for James Harden on February 10. Such is the nature of the beast for one of the most engimatic stars in the game. Oh, and Simmons is still owed $113-plus million over the next three seasons. How fun.

20. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Los Angeles Lakers
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  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander contract: 5 years, $176.9 million
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander salary (average): $35.38 million

Acquired by Oklahoma City in the Paul George trade with the Los Angeles Clippers ahead of his sophomore season back in 2019-20, SGA has morphed into one of the better young two-way players in the game. He’s averaging 24.2 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists over the past two seasons. The only issue here is that he’s also missed 63 games duing that span. Can Gilgeous-Alexander stay healthy enough to live up to the rookie-level max contract he signed with the Thunder last summer?

Related: 2022 NBA Playoff and championship predictions

Highest paid NBA players by position (annually)

Point guard

  • Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: $53.84 million
  • Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: $44.07 million
  • John Wall, Houston Rockets: $42.78 million
  • Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks: $42.46 million
  • Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers: $41.36 million

Shooting guard

  • James Harden, Philadelphia 76ers: $42.78 million
  • Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors: $37.98 million
  • Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards: $35.07 million
  • C.J. McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans: $33.33 million
  • Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz: $32.60 million

Small forward

  • Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat: $48.80 million
  • Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers: $44.07 million
  • Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers: $44.07 million
  • LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers: $42.83 million
  • Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks: $35.5 million

Power forward

  • Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets: $48.55 million
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks: $45.64 million
  • Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers: $37.98 million
  • Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers: $36 million
  • Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors: $34.23 million

Center

  • Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: $48.98 million
  • Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz: $41 million
  • Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat: $32.6 million
  • Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: $31.65 million
  • Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: $29.54 million

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