The 30 Most Expensive Contracts in NBA History

Along with the MLB and the NFL, it is safe to say that the NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues in the United States. Not only that, but the league also has millions of fans across the world, as almost everyone agrees that the highest level of basketball is played in the NBA. 

With that in mind, it is no surprise that many NBA players earn more than $100 million just off a single contract. The case of James Harden and his $228 million contract with the Houston Rockets isn’t isolated. 

We will be going over the most expensive contracts in NBA history, listing them in descending order. Let’s get started!

The 30 Most Expensive Contracts in NBA History
Image Source: The Sports Geek
Image Source: USA Today

30. Andrew Wiggins

As a 1st round pick and one of the most sought-after SF players in the league, Andrew Wiggins will earn a whopping $94,738,170 throughout the next couple of years.

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The 30 Most Expensive Contracts in NBA History
Image Source: USA Today

His contract with the Golden State Warriors comes as a result of his promising performance in the 2018/2019 and 2019/2020 seasons.

This deal is for the ongoing season of 2020/2021, as well as for the upcoming 2021/2022, and 2022/2023. What that means is that on average, Andrew will be earning around $30 million a year.

With that sum in mind, it will be interesting to follow Wiggins’s games as he finds where he fits in with the GSW.

Image Source: Sports Illustrated

29. Kristaps Porzingis

Similar to what Andrew above has is the deal of Kristaps Porzingis, the Latvian Power forward/center with the Dallas Mavericks.

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Image Source: Sports Illustrated
Image Source: Sports Illustrated

The contract is set at a hefty $94,951,800 with his highest-grossing season being 2023/2024, with $36,016,200. 

Unlike Andrew Wiggins though, Kristaps managed to sign his contract using bird rights. That is for the ongoing season as well as the upcoming three years.

It is a fact that playing along with Luka Dončić, who is considered to be one of the most successful players this season, is sure to provide the Dallas Mavericks with realistic playoff chances.

Image Source: The Guardian

28. Kyrie Irving

Moving on with our list, the deal that Kyrie Irving managed to sign with the Brooklyn Nets is something that many players could only dream of..

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Image Source: The Guardian
Image Source: The Guardian

The sum is set at $104,748,600 for three years of playing with the team. He is currently slowly recovering from surgery.

But we are sure that Irving will be the key player for the Brooklyn Nets in the 2020/2021 season. We are also excited to see the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 seasons, for which he signed.

At the end of the day, with this cap space contract, he remains one of the most skilled point guards in the league even though he is still quite young at 28 years of age.

Image Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

27. Khris Middleton

As a member of the NBA All-Star team for both 2019 and 2020, Khris is one of the key players for the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Image Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Image Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

With that in mind, his contract of $106,500,000 is not something that we were too surprised by. 

The contract is for the present year as well as the three upcoming seasons until 2024. Looking at the details, he will be paid the most during his final 12 months of the contract – $40,396,552.

Good on both offense and defense, Khris Middleton is sure to justify that contract sum, as long as he stays injury-free.

Image Source: Warriors Wire USA Today

26. Gilbert Arenas

As one of the most publicized players back in 2008, Gilbert Arenas was deserving of the $111 million deal that he sealed with the Washington Wizards.

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Image Source: Warriors Wire USA Today
Image Source: Warriors Wire USA Today

This was for the 2008/2009 season as well as upcoming five years (until 2013). His fight with Javaris Crittenton in the locker room certainly didn’t do him any good in terms of his popularity.

But he still managed to average 25 points per game. Additionally, Gilbert made three All-Star appearances, and was in the All-Star selection the same number of times.

In 2010, he was traded to Orlando Magic, and a couple of years later, he retired from his basketball career.

Image Source: Grizzly Bear Blues

25. Marc Gasol

The Memphis Grizzlies team is well known for offering their players hefty deals. The best example is Marc Gasol.

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Image Source: Grizzly Bear Blues
Image Source: Grizzly Bear Blues

Marc was given $113.2 million for five years with the team. His contract was for the seasons from 2015 to 2019. 

While there are a couple of better-paid players at the position of PF or Center, having an average yearly salary of around $22 million isn’t too bad. 

Considering that he was named as the Best Defense Player in the NBA a couple of years ago, we aren’t too surprised by his earnings. Additionally, Marc really enjoyed his time at the Grizzlies.

Image Source: Forbes

24. Al Horford

As someone who is tied with Marc Gasol, Al Horford managed to pack in $113.3 million for four years of his time at the Boston Celtics.

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Image Source: Forbes
Image Source: Forbes

In our opinion, both sides profited from this contract given that Al was one of the most valuable Boston players during those seasons.

Throughout his Atlanta Hawks career, Horford’s performance made it pretty clear that he is one of the best Point forwards in the league. 

Impressively, he managed to appear in four All-Star games and was also awarded with a few NBA honors during that time.

Image Source: USA Today

23. Kevin Love

While his first year with the Cleveland Cavaliers (in 2014) was pretty rough for Kevin Love, he adapted very quickly. He and LeBron James were considered one of the best NBA duos.

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Image Source: USA Today
Image Source: USA Today

As Kevin increased his efficiency throughout the season, the Cavs offered him a new contract that was set at $113.2 million. 

The deal was signed for the season of 2015/2016, as well as the four upcoming years.

Frankly, earning an average of $23 million per year is quite impressive, especially when you consider all the amazing Cavaliers players at the time. 

Image Source: Heat Nation

22. Chris Bosh

Given the fact that he was one of the best league veterans at the time, Miami Heat was all about signing Chris Bosh when LeBron James left for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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Image Source: Heat Nation
Image Source: Heat Nation

With that in mind, CB was given $118.7 million for the upcoming five years with the team (from 2014 to 2018).

While he did go on to play a couple of fantastic games, the health issues that he was dealing with at the time prevented Bosh from making the contract a win-win situation

Very shortly after signing, he had to retire from the game due to blood clotting issues, which was a huge blow for Miami Heat at the time.

Image Source: SLAM

21. Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O’Neal is highly regarded as one of the best NBA centers of all time. He started his career with the Orlando Magic.

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Image Source: SLAM
Image Source: SLAM

But the team that allowed him to showcase his incredible performance, averaging 27.5 points and 12.5 per game, was the LA Lakers that signed him for 7 years. 

While today, $120 million for a 7-year contract may not be huge, at that time, it was a fantastic deal. 

Shaquille stayed throughout the whole contract, from 1996 to 2002, and he proved that he was worthy of the sum.

Image Source: At The Hive

20. Nicolas Batum

Nicolas Batum isn’t known for his All-Star game appearances… because he doesn’t have any. But that didn’t have an impact on his talent.

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Image Source: At The Hive
Image Source: At The Hive

Not having All-Star game appearances didn’t stop him from averaging around 15 points per game throughout 2015 and 2016.

This was the main reason why the Charlotte Hornets decided to provide him with an impressive sum of $120 million for the upcoming five years (from 2016 to 2020).

In the end, he did a fantastic job during those seasons, and he remains as one of the most promising players in the league. 

Image Source: Bleacher Report

19. Tim Duncan

Better known by his nickname The Big Fundamental, it is safe to consider Tim Duncan as one of the greatest forwards that the game has ever seen.

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Image Source: Bleacher Report
Image Source: Bleacher Report

He is most known for how he performed with the San Antonio Spurs from 2003 to 2009. For those years, he was awarded with a nice $122 million contract. 

For the performance that he showed, Duncan was deserving of even more, but that sum is still quite great considering the average NBA salary.

Most importantly, he continued to play for SAS after those initial seven years and was one of the most valuable players during the 2013 playoffs. 

Image Source: The Ringer

18. Chris Webber

While the Sacramento Kings franchise didn’t acquire an NBA championship during Webber’s time with the team, the period from 2001 to 2007 was one of their most impressive.

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Image Source: The Ringer
Image Source: The Ringer

When you consider that Chris averaged 23.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 4.8 assists during his contract, the massive amount doesn’t come as a surprise.

For the seven years that Webber played at Sacramento, he was given $122.7 million. If he signed a contract in 2021, that sum would probably be doubled. 

However, an average salary of $17 million in the early 2000’s is quite great. Additionally, throughout this time, he appeared four times at All-Star games, proving his great value. 

Image Source: SB Nation

17. Joe Johnson

To be honest, no one expected that the Atlanta Hawks would offer Joe Johnson a contract of $123.7 million back in 2010 for the upcoming six years.

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Image Source: SB Nation
Image Source: SB Nation

That sum sounded pretty great considering that it was few months shy of JJ turning 30. 

While there’s no doubt that Joe is a fantastic player, with a couple of All-Star selections, we wonder if this move paid off for the Hawks, as he was traded to Brooklyn Nets just two years later. 

Although he is still an active player, Joe has suffered multiple injuries which is the reason why he didn’t appear for more than a few minutes per game when playing for the Detroit Pistons in 2019.

Image Source: Syracuse

16. Carmelo Anthony

Many people criticize Carmelo Anthony for being quite selfish when the ball is in his hands. Still, that doesn’t seem to affect the man.

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Image Source: Syracuse
Image Source: Syracuse

Although he doesn’t have any NBA rings to his name, the contract that he made with New York Knicks in 2014 is pretty satisfying.

He agreed to a five-year deal to a sum of $124.1 million, and although the team didn’t win a championship during this time, Carmelo’s game was quite impressive. 

Currently, the 36 year old player is assigned by the Portland Trailblazers. Unfortunately, the injury hiatus that he is going through doesn’t do him or the team much good.

Image Source: Bleacher Report

15. Kevin Garnett

When it comes to evergreen relationships between an NBA player and a team, Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves are the perfect example.

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Image Source: Bleacher Report
Image Source: Syracuse

As soon as he finished high school, Kevin began playing for the franchise. After just 4 years of spectacular performance, he was awarded a $126 million contract.

During his time with the Timberwolves, KG made 12 All-Star Game appearances and was the player with highest rebounds in two different seasons, so this deal paid off for both sides.

The coolest thing is that his last season in 2015/2016 was at Minnesota, a franchise that chose to retire his #21.

Image Source: Orlando Pinstriped Post

14. Rashad Lewis

As someone who was first noticed while playing for the Seattle SuperSonics and making a fantastic average of 22.4 points per game, Rashad Lewis did amazingly well.

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Image Source: Orlando Pinstriped Post
Image Source: Orlando Pinstriped Post

Not wanting to miss out on the rising talent, the Orlando Magic decided to provide him with a fancy offer.

After arranging a deal with the SuperSonics, Orlando Magic got Lewis on their roster. The sum of $126 million for 2007-2012 is quite impressive considering Rashad’s position at the time.

Unfortunately, he didn’t play anywhere as well during his time with the Magic, with his highest scoring being set at 18 points.

Image Source: Bleacher Report

13. Jrue Holiday

The New Orleans Pelicans are a team well-known for their massive contracts. Jrue wasn’t at his prime at the time of his large contract, with his last All Star appearance was in 2013.

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Image Source: Bleacher Report
Image Source: Bleacher Report

But the franchise offered him $126 million to play from 2017 to 2021.

Surprisingly, although he was 27 years old at the time, Jrue managed to make the deal worth it. His average stats for the first year of the contract were 15.4 points per game and 7.3 assists.

Tied with Rashad Lewis and Kevin Garnett when it comes to the amount they were contracted for, Jrue is a player who has shown much love towards the NOP.

Image Source: Indystar

12. Jermaine O’Neal

According to many sports analysts, the contract that Jermaine made with the Indiana Pacers didn’t go well for him, but the sum of $126.6 million for seven years is quite impressive.

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Image Source: Indystar
Image Source: Bleacher Report

He didn’t start his career with the Indiana Pacers, but he was actually traded from the Portland Blazers to the Pacers back in 2000. This is where he started showing many signs of his potential dominance as a center.

This was one of the main reasons why the Pacers wanted to keep him on their team. His contract was set at $126.6 million, which was good for the given time period. 

Still, when you compare it to what players are making now, it would be safe to say that Jermaine could have made more for playing in Indiana from 2003 to 2009.

Image Source: The Undefeated

11. Bradley Beal (Tie)

Beal has had some tough times recently while battling injuries. But that doesn’t undermine that he is still one of the best shooting guards in the league, shooting 39.7% from three-point range.

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Image Source: The Undefeated
Image Source: The Undefeated

With that in mind, it was no surprise that the Washington Wizards wanted to keep him on their team. 

He has been there since he was drafted in 2012, and the team offered him quite a lucrative deal for five more years.

Bradley Beal is tied alongside Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis when it comes to the most expensive contracts in history. The sum in question was $127.2 million for 5 years (2016-2020).

Image Source: The Bird Writes

10. Anthony Davis (Tie)

One of the most controversial contracts in the past couple of years has to be that of Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. He should have made $145 million over 5 years, but things didn’t turn out that way. 

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Image Source: The Bird Writes
Image Source: The Bird Writes

Although he averaged 24 points during the 2015 season, he didn’t make an appearance in the All-Star Game, and this resulted in the New Orleans Pelicans offering him a lower sum for a 5-year contract. 

Similar to Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis made a deal for $127.2 million to play from 2016 to 2020. 

While we have to say that this is still a great sum, we are certain that Anthony would have liked it much better if the initial deal had remained. 

Image Source: Piston Powered

9. Andre Drummond (Tie)

Andre Drummond came back to play for the Detroit Pistons. But contrary to what Anthony Davis had to go through, Andre was actually rewarded for his fantastic performance during the 2015 season.

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Image Source: Piston Powered
Image Source: Piston Powered

After being selected to his first All-Star Game, the Detroit Pistons didn’t want to miss out on a fantastic opportunity to secure Andre for at least five more years. 

The deal was that Drummond would play for the Pistons from 2016 to 2020 and be awarded $127.2 million. 

This is quite impressive for someone who is a center that drill has much more to show.

Image Source: USA Today

8. Gordon Hayward

The true talent of Gordon Hayward was revealed during his time with the Utah Jazz. Back in 2010, he was chosen as the 9th overall pick in the NBA draft.

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Image Source: USA Today
Image Source: Piston Powered

He was able to continuously improve his performance throughout the 2016-2017 season, and he stood as one of the most valuable players in the league.

This was one of the main reasons why the Boston Celtics decided to offer him such a sweet deal. Although he is currently playing for the Charlotte Hornets, the contract was honored. 

He offered a sum of $128 million to play with the Celtics from 2017 to 2020. Although Boston didn’t win the championship in this period of time, Hayward’s game was at the top of the league.

Image Source: KTLA

7. Kobe Bryant

The news of Kobe’s tragic death in a helicopter crash back in 2020 shocked the entire basketball world. Still, his legacy remains, as he was the best basketball player to ever step on the court.

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Image Source: KTLA
Image Source: KTLA

The “Black Mamba” was someone who wanted to spend his whole career with the LA Lakers, and that is what more or less happened. 

At the time of this contract, it was the most expensive contract in NBA history. As Kobe was at the top of his game in the 2000s, the LA Lakers wanted to ensure that he stayed with the team.

They offered him a hefty sum of $136.4 million from 2004 to 2010. He gladly accepted, becoming a legend in Los Angeles in the process.

Image Source: Sportsnet

6. DeMar DeRozan

As one of the best shooting guards in the league, DeMar is a highly valued player who continued stepping up his game from 2012 to 2015.

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Image Source: Sportsnet
Image Source: Sportsnet

This resulted in his big appearance at the All-Star Game in 2015 and motivated the Toronto Raptors to sign him for five more years.

Out of nowhere, DeMar became one of the highest-paid players in the history of the NBA. At the end of the day, it was all worth it, as the Toronto Raptors won the championship in 2020.

As we mentioned above, DeMar signed a contract with the Raptors to play from 2016 to 2020. For that period of time, he got $139 million, which is one of the biggest contracts to this day.

Image Source: Sir Charles In Charge

5. Damian Lillard

One would say that, given his performance over the past five or six years, Lillard simply isn’t getting the attention or praise he deserves.

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Image Source: Sir Charles In Charge
Image Source: Sir Charles In Charge

Still, when you take into consideration his latest contract, you would agree that he is one of the most sought-after players in the NBA.

After his performance in the 2015 season, when he was able to average 25.3 points and 7 assists per game, the Blazers wanted to ensure that he remained a point guard for their team.

He was given an opportunity to sign a $140 million contract with the Blazers. At the time, that was and still is one of the most lucrative deals in the history of the league.

Image Source: ESPN

4. Mike Conley

Memphis has not done well for the last couple of years, and they may not have been able to reach the Conference or League finals, but one thing is certain – Mike Conley is a leader on the court.

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Image Source: ESPN
Image Source: ESPN

As someone who can play defense equally as well as offense, Mike Conley is certainly a player that most teams would want on their squad. 

For that reason, the Grizzlies did their best to seal the deal with Mike from 2016 to 2020.

Clearly, a lot of expensive deals were made in 2016. Thus, the sum of $153 million that Conley received was just another move that supported this trend.

Image Source: SB Nation

3. Blake Griffin

When Chris Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets, it left the Clippers weakened. That is why they wanted to make sure that Blake stayed.

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Image Source: SB Nation
Image Source: SB Nation

This team hasn’t done well in the playoffs for several years, and they wanted to increase their chances by keeping Griffin.

Although it didn’t prove to be the best decision, as he has suffered several injuries throughout his contract, it still remains one of the most expensive deals in the history of the NBA. 

The sum that they agreed on was $173 million, which is quite impressive for the five years that he was under contract to remain with the team (2017-2021). 

Image Source: Chico Enterprise-Records

2. Stephen Curry

Until a couple of years ago, fans all over the world were shocked by how underpaid Stephen Curry was, especially when he is one of the main reasons why Golden State has been so dominant.

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Image Source: Chico Enterprise-Records
Image Source: Chico Enterprise-Records

This eventually changed when he made one of the biggest deals in the league. Golden State offered him $203 million, and this wasn’t something that Stephen planned to refuse.

According to most sports analysts, Curry should be paid even more for his huge contributions. 

Still, from 2017 to 2021, he won’t have a lot of financial problems due to an average salary of $40.7 million.

Image Source: Sky Sports

1. James Harden

Whether you like him or not, you have certainly heard of James Harden. Playing for the Houston Rockets, he managed to sign the most expensive contract in the NBA. 

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Image Source: Sky Sports
Image Source: Sky Sports

On top of his existing contract of $60 million, he was given an opportunity to earn much more from 2019 to 2022

At the end of the day, James Harden is one of the best players in the league. Yes, he may not be the best player on defense.

But we are sure that for $230 million, he will be incredibly motivated to stay on top of his game. 

Summary

It is no surprise that NBA players are among the highest-paid athletes.

It looks like average salaries of $30 to $40 million per year might continue to become more common for the best players in the league.