As the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors face off in the final series of the 2019 NBA playoffs, there’s more on the line than just a championship. The 2018-19 NBA season is about to end, but one thing that most fans aren’t aware of is the playoff bonus payouts each franchise gives to its players based on the team performance. Just as some jobs reward performances above and beyond normal, so does professional basketball.
Today we will look at the eight teams that will see their players earn the most bonus money from the 2019 NBA playoffs. As Spotrac notes, the 2018 bonus pool reached $20 million, and the total money distributed to playoff teams is typically the same or close to it in two-year cycles.
7. Boston Celtics, $891,645 (TIE)
The Celtics finished with the eighth-highest payout in the league after having the No. 4 seed in the East and reaching the conference semifinals (where they ultimately lost to the Milwaukee Bucks). Boston’s chances at repeat success in the 2020 postseason hinges on if Kyrie Irving decides to stay or leave in free agency, and the roster changes Boston makes this offseason.
7. Houston Rockets, $891,645 (TIE)
Spotrac predicts the same NBA playoffs bonus payout for Houston and Boston based on the same playoff results. After earning the No. 4 seed in a stacked Western Conference, the Rockets lost to the Warriors for the second season in a row.
6. Philadelphia 76ers, $956,487
The 76ers had championship aspirations this year, but a great series-ending buzzer-beater by Kawhi Leonard eliminated them in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler led Philadelphia to the No. 3 seed in the East. Replicating or surpassing this year’s playoff run hinges on if the 76ers can resign Butler and Tobias Harris. If they do, expect Philly to stay in the top three in the conference.
5. Denver Nuggets, $1.05 million
Denver was one of the surprise teams in the league this season. The young duo of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets to the Western Conference Semifinals after earning the No. 2 seed in the West. This is just their first taste of playoff experience, so expect the players to enjoy their bonus checks and strive for even better greatness in 2019.
4. Portland Trail Blazers, $1.54 million
Superstar Damian Lillard led Portland all season, and nothing changed during their run to the Western Conference Finals. He made clutch plays in each series, including his series-winning shot over the Oklahoma City Thunder, which will go down as one of the great playoff moments. If Jusuf Nurkic can come back at any point next year, the Trail Blazers could find themselves enjoying another deep run in the NBA playoffs in 2020.
3. Milwaukee Bucks, $2.32 million
Bucks players will receive a huge payout after their spectacular season. Combining their No. 1 overall seed payout, and No. 1 Eastern Conference seed, they were already off to a good start with over $1 million in the bank. Making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals earned them another $1.3 million.
The Bucks will be disappointed they didn’t make the NBA Finals, but it was still a season fans will remember fondly.
2. Golden State Warriors, $4.04 million
The Warriors have so much recent success in the NBA playoffs, they can probably do these calculations in their sleep. They had a higher total than Toronto ($1.74 million) entering the NBA Finals because they were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Even though they came up short, Stephen Curry and the Warriors have more than $4 million to share thanks to their 2019 playoff run.
1. Toronto Raptors, $ 5.18 million
The Toronto Raptors entered the NBA Finals with $1.64 million in bonus money, and we don’t have to tell you how it ended. Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors gave the Warriors their toughest test yet, Toronto hoisted the championship trophy in its first appearance, and they upped their NBA playoffs bonus pool with their title. Toronto was the No. 2 seed in the East after a 57-win season and had a lower bonus pool amount entering the finals, but the victory pushed them to the top spot.