When the NBA returned inside the Orlando bubble, several of the highest-earning players, including John Wall and Kevin Durant, were left out for one reason. They had no reason to risk their health as they recovered from injuries. However, many NBA players are still competing on the big, albeit strange stage in Orlando. And it completely changes who’s richest.
NBA players sitting out
In recent years, NBA salaries have skyrocketed, reports ESPN. While the highest salaries were once just north of $20 million a year, that type of money will now buy a middling kind of talent that is not even an All-Star, let alone a superstar. From seasoned veterans to valuable role players, the bubble shows that some teams are not getting the full potential.
Steph Curry had just begun his comeback from a hand injury when the season was put on hold. As the Warriors were one of the worst teams in the NBA, they were not invited inside the bubble. John Wall’s super-max contract is proving to be a nightmare for the Wizards. He sat out of the bubble nursing another injury that has plagued his recent years.
Blake Griffin, Klay Thompson, Kyrie Irving, and many more watch the NBA action from afar. However, many of the highest-paid players remain inside the bubble, too.
Earning their money
Although players agreed to take a cut in pay overall, reports Insider, many will make a lot of money. Anthony Davis, due for an enormous pay-raise with the Lakers, is only the 24th-ranked player when it comes to salary. With his current deal, Davis makes the same amount as Hassan Whiteside is as a role player with Portland.
From Devin Booker to Joel Embiid, Kristaps Porzingis to CJ McCollum, several of the NBA’s biggest stars, role players, and up-and-comers are not hurting from their pocketbooks. Gordon Hayward signed a massive, $127.8 million contract with the Celtics years ago. He’s making a cool $32 million, as much as Kawhi Leonard.
As we move down the list, there’s a mix of surprising names. Jimmy Butler makes just more than Leonard and Hayward, as do Tobias Harris and Kemba Walker. Paul George and Kyle Lowry entered it with a prorated $33.3 million salary on the year. While the ageless LeBron James makes even more.
The duo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden cost the Rockets a combined $76 million as Houston look to prove doubters wrong. On top, however, is a man who was side-by-side with Harden just last season. Chris Paul leads the pack.
Chris Paul becomes the richest NBA player inside the bubble
When Paul signed a four-year, $159.7 million deal with the Houston Rockets, many questioned whether it would be worth it. On the one hand, he’s still one of the best point guards in the NBA; on the other, he’s approaching his mid-thirties. Unable to fully capitalize on his talent in Houston, Paul was shipped off for Westbrook before the 2019-20 season.
Some wondered if he’d ever suit up for the team. Even if he did, they questioned whether a 35-year-old point guard could lead a team searching for a new identity. As the season roared on, however, Paul proved his worth. While he may be older and slower, he helped the Thunder became a dark horse winner.
How long Paul’s tenure in Oklahoma City remains to be seen. But this season, he proved why he’s the richest NBA player in the bubble.