Highest NBA Salary: Top 20 Players

The highest NBA salary is Kobe Bryant’s $25 million, followed by Joe Johnson’s $24.9 million. The top 20 salaries in the NBA are all above $16 million, with shockingly low payouts of $30,000 to $50,000 for the bottom five players in the league.

Other top NBA salaries go to LeBron James with $23 million, Carmelo Anthony with $22.9 million and Dwight Howard with $22.4 million.

The highest NBA salary after the top 20 is Enes Kanter’s $16.4 million.

The 20 highest payouts in the NBA are listed in the table below, along with detailed profiles of the top ten here in the article.

1. Kobe Bryant: $25,000,000

Kobe Bryant highest NBA salaryKobe Bryant gets the highest salary in the NBA with $25 million. The LA Lakers small forward has a two year contract for $48.5 million. When the contract ends after the 2016 season, Bryant will become an unsigned free agent. Bryant’s previous contract was for three years and $83.5 million. That contract ended in 2014.

Bryant’s biggest contract was from 2004-2010. That agreement paid $136 million for seven years. His highest NBA salary was for $30.5 million in the 2013-14 season. His lowest paid year was his third year in the league. That was the 96-97 season when his salary was $1 million.

Bryant was the youngest player in the NBA to score 30,000 total points, hitting that benchmark by age 34. He has scored the most points of any player in Lakers history. He’s also won four All-Star MVP Awards, the most in history.

Also see: How Much Money Does an NBA Player Make?

2. Joe Johnson: NBA Salary $24,894,863

Joe Johnson highest NBA salaryBrooklyn Nets small forward Joe Johnson gets the second highest salary in the NBA with $24.9 million. The players current contract was for six years and $123.6 million with the Atlanta Hawks. The Nets bought out the contract in 2012. Johnson’s previous contracts were for five years and $67 million in 2005 and four years and $7.5 million in 2004. Johnson’s highest NBA salary ever is his current pay of $24.9 million for the 2015-16 season.

Born in 1981, Johnson started playing at a local Boys & Girls Club as a child. He is a seven time NBA All-Star.

According to ESPN’s Mike Mazzeo, Johnson earns over $300,000 per game.

Also see: How Much Are You Worth Compared to an NBA Player?

3. LeBron James: NBA Salary $22,970,500

LeBron James highest paid NBAThe third highest salary in the NBA goes to LeBron James with $23 million. The Cleveland Cavaliers small forward has a net worth of $210 million. The player signed with the Cavaliers in 2006 with a four year, $19 million dollar contract. His next contract was for another four years and $60 million. James’ current contract is for six years and $110 million. He’ll be a free agent after the 2015-16 season.

LeBron’s highest NBA salary to date is his current pay of $23 million. He has been awarded the NBA’s MVP award four different years. James is also an 11 time NBA All-Star.

When Lebron James was born, his mother was only 16 years old. The young family lived in a string of low rent apartments in Akron. At the age of nine, James was taken in by a local youth basketball coach who quickly recognized his talents.

NBA Pay RankNBA PlayerTeamSalaryNotes
1Kobe BryantLA Lakers$25,000,000Bryant's highest NBA salary ever was $30.5 million in 2013-14
2Joe JohnsonBrooklyn Nets$24,894,863Johnson is currently earning his highest NBA salary ever.
3LeBron JamesCleveland Cavaliers$22,970,500James not only earns the third highest salary in the NBA but has a net worth of $210 million.
4Carmelo AnthonyNY Knicks$22,875,000The highest NBA salary in Anthony's current contract will be $28 million in 2018-19.
5Dwight HowardHouston Rockets$22,359,364Howard earns the highest NBA salary of any player in Houston Rockets history.
6Chris BoshMiami Heat$22,192,730Bosh was on track for a business management degree before he became one of the NBA's top money makers.
7Chris PaulLos Angeles Clippers$21,468,696The seventh highest salary earner in the NBA, Paul grew up working at a service station.
8Kevin DurantOklahoma City Thunder$20,158,622Not just an NBA star, Durant took time out to star in a kids movie where his talent is magically transferred to a young fan.
9Derrick RoseChicago Bulls$20,093,064Now earning one of the highest NBA salaries, Rose grew up in a dangerous Chicago neighborhood.
10Dwayne WadeMiami Heat$20,000,000Before earning one of the highest salaries in the NBA, Wade recalls police raids in his house at the age of six.
11DeAndre JordanLos Angeles Clippers$19,689,000The second Los Angeles Clippers player on our list of highest paid NBA players.
12Brook LopezBrooklyn Nets$19,689,000Another highest paid NBA player on the Brooklyn Nets.
13Kevin LoveCleveland Cavaliers$19,689,000Cleveland Cavs 2nd of three highest NBA salary earners on our top 20 list.
14LaMarcus AldridgeSan Antonio Spurs$19,689,000Before earning the 14th highest NBA salary, Shaq told Aldridge to finish college.
15Marc GasolMemphis Grizzlies$19,689,000The only player on our highest NBA salary list from Spain.
16Blake GriffinLos Angeles Clippers$18,907,725Not only a highest paid NBA player for his court play, Griffin is also NBA slam dunk champion.
17Paul MillsapAtlanta Hawks$18,671,659Earned a $5.9 million signing bonus in 2009-10.
18Paul GeorgeIndiana Pacers$17,120,106Highest salary in history on the Indiana Pacers.
19Russel WestbrookOklahoma City Thunder$16,744,218Second top 20 highest NBA salary earner from the Thunder.
20Kyrie IrvingCleveland Cavaliers$16,407,500The Cavs are the only NBA team with three of the top 20 highest salaries.

Also see: How Much Money Do NFL Players Make?

4. Carmelo Anthony: NBA Salary $22,875,000

Highest NBA salary Carmelo AnthonyThe fourth biggest salary in the NBA goes to Carmelo Anthony. The New York Knicks small forward signed with the Denver Nuggets in 2003. His original contract was for four years and $15 million. His highest salary in those years was $4.7 million in 2006-07.

Anthony’s next contract was for five years and $79 million in 2007. He signed a three year contract in 2012 for $64 million. The player’s current deal is for five years and $124 million. He is currently earning the highest salary of his career. However, his pay is set to climb still higher. Anthony will earn a guaranteed $28 million in 2018-19. He’ll be a free agent at age 34 by the following year.

Anthony is an eight time NBA All-Star, but he wasn’t always in the money. He was born in the projects in New York. His father died of cancer when he was just a toddler. His astronomical talent pulled him up out of an environment filled with crime and drugs.

Also see: Kobe Bryant Net Worth

5. Dwight Howard: NBA Salary $22,359,364

Dwight Howard highest paid NBADwight Howard earns the fifth highest salary in the NBA with $22.4 million. The Houston Rockets Center has a four year contract for $88 million that ends after the 2016-17 season. Previous contracts include a five year deal for $83 million in 2008 and a four year deal for $20 million in 2004. Both deals were with the Orlando Magic. Howard spent the 2012-13 season with the LA Lakers before signing with the Rockets.

Howard’s highest NBA salary to date is his current pay of $22.4 million. His lowest was $4.1 million in his rookie year.

Howard is an eight time NBA All-Star and played in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. His father is an Atlanta State Trooper. Howard is a devout Christian. Since the 8th grade, his goal was to become an NBA #1 draft pick.

Also see: LeBron James Net Worth

6. Chris Bosh: NBA Salary $22,192,730

Chris Bosh Highest NBA SalaryThe sixth highest NBA salary belongs to Chris Bosh, power forward for the Miami Heat. Bosh’s rookie year was 2003-04 with the Toronto Raptors. In that year he signed a four year contract for $13.7 million. His first year salary was $3 million. Bosh signed on for another three years in 2007 for $43 million. He signed with the Heat in 2010 for 6 years with a contract of $110 million. Bosh’s current contract is for five years and $119 million.

Bosh is currently earning his highest NBA salary yet. The player will be a free agent in 2019 at the age of 34.

Bosh grew up in a strong family, learning basketball in fourth grade. He was always a model student but where he really excelled was on the basketball court. He studied graphic design and business management at Georgia Tech. He quit college after his first year, confronted with the certainty that he had the right talent for the NBA.

Also see: Stephen Curry Net Worth

7. Chris Paul: NBA Salary $21,468,696

Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul makes the seventh highest NBA salary. The star’s current contract is for five years and $107 million. His highest salary of the deal will come in 2017 with $24.3 million. Paul will be a free agent in 2018.

Paul signed with the New Orleans Hornets in his rookie year of 2005. His contract at the time was for four years and $15 million. The highest salary of that contract was $4.6 million in 2008-09. The player’s second contract was for four years and $64 million in 2009. His total NBA contract money comes to $195 million.

Chris Paul is an eight time NBA All-Star. He has won two Olympic gold medals and has been NBA President since 2013. He has endorsement deals with State Farm and Nike. When he was a teenager he worked at his grandfather’s service station. He credits the experience for teaching him many life lessons.

Also see: 5 Reasons to Publicly Share Your Salary

8. Kevin Durant: NBA Salary $20,158,622

The Oklahoma City Thunder’s small forward Kevin Durant makes the eighth highest salary in the NBA. The star has a five year contract for $89 million that runs out after the 2015-16 season. Durant will be a free agent in 2016 at the age of 27. His rookie year was 2007 with the Seattle Supersonics. At the time he signed a four year, $19 million contract. The Supersonics traded him to the Thunder after his first year. Durant’s average NBA salary is $17.8 million.

Durant has won the NBA MVP Award and an Olympic gold medal. He was also NBA Rookie of the Year. He was recruited heavily from high school to play college basketball for the University of Texas. In 2012 he starred in the feature film Thunderstruck, a children’s movie about Durant and a young NBA hopeful. In the movie, Durant’s basketball talent is magically transferred to a young fan. The boy must choose to give the talent back to his favorite player.

Also see: March Madness: Stars Earn $0, Networks Rake in a Billion Dollars

9. Derrick Rose: NBA Salary $20,093,064

Derrick Rose earns the ninth highest NBA Salary. The Chicago Bulls point guard’s current contract is for five years and $94 million. The highest salary of the contract is for $21 million in 2016-17. Rose will be a free agent in 2017.

Rose’s only previous contract was for four years and $22.5 million in 2008. His highest salary in that contract was $5.6 million in 2011.

Rose’s total NBA salary contract money is $116 million. He only played one year of college basketball before being the first overall NBA draft pick by Chicago in 2008. Rose’s year of college basketball was invalidated by the NCAA after it was found his SAT scores had been disqualified.

Rose was born in a dangerous neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. Before earning one of the biggest salaries in the NBA, his mother kept him somewhat isolated from fear he would be exploited.

Also see: Are Teachers Overpaid?

10. Dwayne Wade: NBA Salary $20,000,000

Dwayne Wade earns the tenth highest NBA salary on the books. The Miami Heat shooting guard’s current contract is for one year and $20 million. He’ll be an unsigned free agent after the 2015-16 season.

Wade’s rookie year was 2003. He signed a four year contract with the Heat for $12 million. His highest NBA salary in that contract was $3.8 million in 2006-07. Wade has signed five short contracts with money totaling $193 million. His biggest before now was $18.7 million in 2013-14.

Wade is an Olympic gold medal champion. He was born on Chicago’s South Side and has said that his family was involved in gangs and his mother was on drugs. When he was still very young, he found multiple bodies in garbage cans. He remembers police raids in his house when he was only six years old. Wade turned to sports to avoid the hell of drugs and crime all around him. He idolized Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls and worked very hard to follow in the superstar’s giant footsteps.