Who are the 20 highest paid NBA players? Who is the highest paid NBA player in 2023? These are important questions to with the Association in the midst of a crucial offseason.
There are normal names to look at when checking in on those who are backing up the Brinks Truck every year. Below, we look at the 20 highest paid NBA players of 2023 with a positional break down at the bottom.
Related: Top 100 NBA free agents of 2023
22. Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
- Darius Garland contract: 5 years, $197.2 million
- Darius Garland salary: $39.44 million
Garland, 23, inked his rookie-level max contract with Cleveland back in July of 2022 after putting up his first-ever All-Star campaign. He’s now teaming up with Donovan Mitchell to form one of the better backcourt tandems in the NBA. Since the start of the 2021-22 season, Garland is averaging 21.6 points and 8.2 assists on 40% shooting from three-point range. Cleveland certainly did not overpay the former top-five pick.
21. Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
- Zion Williamson contract: 5 years, $197.2 million
- Zion Williamson salary: $39.44 million
Williamson has played in a total of 114 games during his four-year stint. It’s still dumbfounding to realize he’s among the highest paid NBA players of 2023 based on that number alone. There are also rumors indicating that the former No. 1 pick could be on the trade block this summer. But when on the court, Zion has been brilliant. He’s averaging 25.8 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 61% shooting. It’s all about staying healthy moving forward.
20. Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
- Ja Morant contract: 5 years, $197.2 million ($213 million max value)
- Ja Morant salary: $39.44 million
Morant has been suspended the first 25 games of the 2023-24 season due to multiple public incidents involving firearms. Some believe he got off soft given the seriousness of the incidents in question. However, the former NBA Rookie of the Year could lose as much as $60 million over the suspension given he’ll be hard-pressed to meet incentives. The future is now firmly up in the air when it comes to this talented, but enigmatic star.
19. Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Rudy Gobert contract: 5 years, $205 million
- Rudy Gobert salary (average): $41 million
Gobert’s first season with Minnesota after a blockbuster trade from the Utah Jazz last summer did not go according to plan. Not only did the ‘Wolves lose in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, but he also averaged his lowest PPG and RPG total since back in 2017-18. In short, the pairing of Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns, another one of the highest paid NBA players, did not work out well.
For Minnesota, this is an albatross of a contract. Gobert is set to earn a combined $84.8 million over the next two seasons. He also has a whopping $46.66 million player option for 2025-26, one that Gobert will undoubtedly exercise unless he somehow morphs into a more complete player at the age of 33.
18. Kyrie Irving, Dallas Mavericks
- Kyrie Irving contract: 3 years, $126 million
- Kyrie Irving salary: $42 million
After all of the talk about Irving potentially leaving Dallas in free agency, the NBA champion re-signed with the team immediately after the market opened. It made sense for both parties. Irving could receive more from Dallas than any other team. Meanwhile, the Mavericks exhausted capital to acquire him from the Brooklyn Nets in a blockbuster trade back in February.
17. Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
- Trae Young contract: 5 years, $215.16 million
- Trae Young salary: $43.03 million
The brilliant start to Young’s career has taken somewhat of a turn with questions about his leadership. The Hawks’ lack of team-wide success (three playoff wins the past two seasons) has also played a role in the devaluation of the sharpshooter. Statistically, it’s hard to ignore what the 24-year-old Young has been able to do in five seasons with the Hawks.
- Trae Young stats: 25.5 PPG, 9.3 APG, 44% shooting, 35% 3-point
The question here is whether Young can be a No. 1 option for a contending team. There is also some uncertainty about his future with Atlanta after trade rumors surfaced earlier in the calendar year.
16. Fred VanVleet, Houston Rockets
- Fred VanVleet contract: 3 years, $130 million
- Fred VanVleet salary: $43.3 million
From an undrafted free agent to one of the NBA’s highest paid players. What a past eight years it has been for Fred VanVleet. You have to hand it to the former Wichita State star.
It’s also not like VanVleet didn’t earn this contract in NBA free agency. From 2020-22, he averaged 19.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. While VanVleet did struggle shooting this past season, he’s a big addition for a young Rockets squad.
15. Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
- Zach LaVine contract: 5 years, $215.16 million
- Zach LaVine salary (average): $43.03 million
When the 28-year-old LaVine entered the Association as a first-round pick of Minnesota back in 2014, most figured that he was nothing more than an athlete. Early on, he displayed flashes of brilliance by driving and dunking with the best of them.
Since being acquired by Chicago in the Jimmy Butler trade back in 2017, things have changed dramatically. LaVine has morphed into one of the more complete wings in the game. He’s averaging 24.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.4 assists while shooting a resounding 39% from distance over the past six seasons. The question now is whether LaVine will remain in the Windy City long term with trade rumors surrounding the wing.
Related: Top 50 NBA players of 2023
14. Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
- Luka Doncic contract: 5 years, $215.16 million
- Luka Doncic salary (average): $43.03 million
Doncic’s ability to become one of the highest paid NBA players in the summer of 2021 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 five seasons in the Association, Doncic is averaging 27.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.0 assists per outing. He put up north of 32 points per game in 2022-23. It’s now all about the Mavericks appeasing Doncic and finding him more help.
13. Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers
- 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 back in the summer of 2021. 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.
Unfortunately, injuries have limited the 31-year-old Leonard to 102 games since the end of the 2019-20 season. His deal calls for $45.64 million next season and a player option of $48.79 million in 2024-25. Ouch!
12. Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
- Paul George contract: 4 years, $176.3 million
- Paul George salary (average): $44.07 million
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 when healthy. But much like Leonard, he has not been able to remain on the court in recent years. George has missed 87 of a possible 164 games since the start of the 2021-22 campaign.
11. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
- 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.
10 highest-paid NBA players
10. Kevin Durant, Phoenix Suns
- 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 coming summer.
At 34, Durant returned to the Nets after initially requesting a trade this past summer, teaming up with Ben Simmons for a Brooklyn squad with championship aspirations. Yet, Kyrie Irving’s trade to the Dallas Mavericks changed things up. Within 48 hours, Durant landed with the Phoenix Suns in a blockbuster to end all blockbusters. Whether Durant is able to have success in Phoenix remains to be seen. But he remains one of the modern faces of the Association.
9. Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
- 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 33 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 was seen as a detriment to the Heat.
Then, things changed once the 2023 NBA Playoffs started. Butler put the Heat on his back in a Round 1 win over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks. After taking out the New York Knicks in the conference semifinals, Miami earned a trip to the NBA Finals via a seven-game series win over the Boston Celtics. With two Finals appearances in the past four years, Butler has proven he’s worth every cent as one of the highest paid NBA players.
8. LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
- LeBron James contract: 2 years, $99.01 million
- LeBron James salary (average): $49.50 million
LeBron James’ contract situation was a major talking point since his Lakers finished up shop on a disastrous 49-loss 2021-22 campaign. James, 38, was set to become a free agent following the 2022-23 season. He is now one of the highest paid NBA players via a contract extension that can pay him upwards of $50 million in his Age-40 season.
This past season saw King James return the Lakers to relevance with a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Seemingly set to return to the Lakers for at least one more season after a brief flirtation with retirement, expect James to continue playing at a high level.
7. Bradley Beal, Phoenix Suns
- Bradley Beal contract: 5 years, $251 million
- Bradley Beal salary (average): $50.2 million
A three-time All-Star, Beal is well regarded around the league, which is partially why teams were always itching to trade for the scoring-first shooting guard before he was sent from the Washington Wizards to the Phoenix Suns in a blockbuster.
Currently 29, Beal’s contract keeps him in Phoenix through his age-33 season. Though, the final year of the deal is actually a player option estimated to be worth roughly $57.1 million. We have to hand it to new Suns owner Mat Ishbia. He’s paying out a combined $660 million to Beal, Booker and Durant.
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6. Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
- Joel Embiid contract: 4 years, $213.25 million
- Joel Embiid salary (average): $53.31 million
No one could have envisioned that Embiid would be at where he is now after he missed his first two NBA seasons (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 33.1 points to go with 10.2 rebounds and 4.2 assists while shooting 55% 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.
5. Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
- 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 four-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 owners. He led Golden State to four titles and six NBA Finals appearances in an eight-year span — helping the team build their new arena on the San Francisco waterfront. Yeah, Curry has been a boon for co-owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber.
4. Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
- Nikola Jokic contract: 5 years, $276.08 million
- Nikola Jokic salary (average): $55.2 million
Jokic’s deal is one of the richest contracts in the history of the NBA when it comes to per-year average. It also includes a $60 million player option for the 2027-28 season.
To say that the two-time NBA MVP has earned this would be an understatement. He’s coming off the best statistical two-year run in the modern history of the NBA and is seen as a legit franchise cornerstone for a Nuggets team coming off its first NBA title.
3. Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves
- Karl-Anthony Towns contract: 4 years, $234.57 million
- Karl-Anthony Towns salary: $58.64 million
A one-dimensional performer, Towns’ status as one of the 10 highest paid NBA players isn’t necessarily a good look for the Wolves. It has actually led to previous speculation that he will be traded this summer.
The former No. 1 pick is coming off his worst statistical performance since his rookie campaign back in 2015-16. His deal calls for a player option worth $62.06 million in 2027-28. Ouch!
2. Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
- Devin Booker contract: 4 years, $234.57 million
- Devin Booker salary (average): $58.64 million
Devin Booker is the Phoenix Suns. Still just 26 years old, Booker has been with the Suns through thick and thin. Whether it was when they were a bottom-of-the-barrel team, or now that they’re annual contenders to win an NBA Title.
While Booker is undoubtedly one of the best offensive players in basketball, his next task will be finding a way to get back to the NBA Finals after premature playoff exits each of the past two seasons. He will be aided by the recent acquisition of fellow All-Star guard Bradley Beal as well as Kevin Durant’s presence in the desert.
1. Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers (highest-paid NBA player)
- Damian Lillard contract: 2 years, $121.77 million
- Damian Lillard salary (average): $60.89 million
Lillard’s status atop the lost of the highest paid NBA players won’t officially take hold until 2025-26, but the two-year extension he signed back in July of last year puts him atop this list. It definitely has not been a seamless 11-year run in the Pacific Northwest from a team-wide perspective. With that said, Lillard continues to prove himself as one of the true stone-cold assassins in the game.
- Damian Lillard stats (2022-23): 32.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 7.3 APG, 37% 3 point
The only question here is whether Dame will fulfill his extension with Portland. The team is coming off a down 2022-23 season and just opted to select Scoot Henderson No. 3 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft. For his part, Lillard met with the Blazers’ brass recently. It could be the prelude to a trade later this summer.
Highest-paid NBA players by position (annually)
- Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers: $60.89 million
- Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors: $53.84 million
- Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks: $43.03 million
- Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks: $43.03 million
- Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies: $39.44 million
- Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers: $39.44 million
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder: $35.86 million
- Ben Simmons, Brooklyn Nets: $35.45 million
- Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks: $33.75 million
- De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings: $32.6 million
- Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: $58.64 million
- Bradley Beal, Phoenix Suns: $50.20 million
- Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers: $44.07 million
- Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: $43.03 million
- Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors: $37.98 million
- C.J. McCollum, New Orleans Pelicans: $33.33 million
- Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland Cavaliers: $32.6 million
- Jordan Poole, Washington Wizards: $32 million
- Tyler Herro, Miami Heat: $30 million
- R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks: $26.75 million
- Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat: $48.80 million
- Kevin Durant, Phoenix Suns: $48.55 million
- Kawhi Leonard, Los Angeles Clippers: $44.07 million
- Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets: $35.86 million
- Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks: $34 million
- Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans: $31.65 million
- LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers: $49.50 million
- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks: $45.64 million
- Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans: $39.44 million
- Tobias Harris, Philadelphia 76ers: $36 million
- Pascal Siakam, Toronto Raptors: $34.23 million
- Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: $58.64 million
- Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets: $55.22 million
- Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers: $53.31 million
- Rudy Gobert, Minnesota Timberwolves: $41 million
- Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers: $37.98 million
Highest paid NBA players (FAQs)
- Who is set to become the NBA’s highest paid player? Damian Lillard signed a two-year, $121.77 million contract extension with Portland back in July of 2022. He’s the highest paid player in NBA history.
- What was Michael Jordan’s salary? This six-time NBA champion earned $33.1 million for the 1997-98 NBA season. It remained the highest salary in the NBA until 2018. The second highest-paid NBA player that season was Patrick Ewing at $20.5 million.
- What is minimum NBA salary? The minimum salary for a rookie during the 2022-23 season was $953,000. That number is expected to increase to $982,000 for 2023-24.
- Who is the highest paid NBA player by year? Nikola Jokic will earn that mantle in 2023-24 by averaging 54.04 million. Fellow two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry was the highest-paid on a per-year basis in 2022-23, earning $53.84 million.
- Which NBA player has the highest net worth? LeBron James is said to have a net worth of $1.2 billion, making him the richest current NBA player. The aforementioned Michael Jordan boasts the highest net worth of any player in Association history at $1.7 billion.
- When will we update our list of the highest paid NBA players? Free agency is slated to start on July 6. Some new contracts will come into play then. Updates will be done roughly a week before then.
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.