The NBA makes headlines due to the rate that it signs players deals worth up to $40 million a season. The LeBron James, Chris Pauls, and Steph Currys of the world are riding high with their maximum contracts, but despite these being the players most likely to grab headlines, there are far more players who are not making this money, and many NBA players are making the league minimum salary that’s allowed them by the collective bargaining agreement.
How much do players on the NBA league minimum salary make?
NBA contracts value experience. A player in his 10th season making the minimum is making three-times that of a rookie on the minimum scale. This does not mean that the rookies on minimum deals are making peanuts, however.
A rookie in the NBA makes a minimum of $893,310 to play in the NBA, a healthy raise over the five-figure deals that they would make in the NBA G-League.
This scale puts owners off the hook for some of the money, with every penny over the $1.62 million earned by a player being paid out by the league.
This allows teams to secure the services of a player like Tyson Chandler without having to go too deep into their pockets. This also puts the spotlight on the players who get these minimum deals.
Why do players make a minimum?
People might think that minimum contracts are an indictment of the players’ talent. While it is true that minimum-level players often have something to prove, whether it is an aging player who is clinging to his career like Chandler or a career-bench player looking for his next chance, like Giannis’s brother Thanasis Antetokounmpo.
Some minimum players, like Sacramento King Wenyen Gabriel, are simply looking for their first chance in the NBA to make more money. Every minimum deal in the NBA has a story behind it, whether a player is looking to work up to a massive deal or working down from other deals. The deals are huge for normal people, but tiny compared to the giants.
Who makes the most?
Steph Curry, the highest-paid player in the NBA makes a cool $40 million per year by way of being one of the few max-level players still on the team that drafted him.
Chris Paul is behind him with $38.5 million followed by the player he was traded for, Russell Westbrook, at $38.1 million. John Wall, with one of the more unfortunate contracts in the NBA, makes $37.8 million, which is what James Harden is currently making and more than what LeBron James and Kevin Durant make.
There might be an argument that the league could use more parity when it comes to pay, but the league plays its players well and has a leg up on the way that other players treat their lowest-paid players.
Other leagues’ minimum salaries
The NBA has most other leagues beat when it comes to paying minimum-salary players. With only 15 roster sports, they have less money to pay on more salary cap per player than the NFL. The NHL plays minimum-contract players a little bit over half-a-million dollars, although there is no increase with time.
The NFL pays minimum-contract players $450,000, but it has non-guaranteed contracts, however, so players who don’t perform are not guaranteed their money unless it’s in the contract. In baseball, which has no salary cap, players on a full-season contract are paid $507,000 minimum, although call ups can make a pro-rated amount.
The NBA has the highest-paid minimum-contract players of any sport, and with guaranteed money, it is a good job for any player who is lucky enough to secure the full-term contract.
Other leagues pay less, expect more, and don’t reward the veterans as often. With all of this considered, the NBA may just be the best league for a player to be in.