While Jayson Tatum is currently eligible for his own contract extension, it is likely that Brown will soon no longer have the most lucrative deal on his team. This is due to the fact that All-NBA superstars will continue to sign supermax extensions, causing the salary cap to constantly increase. The phrase “richest contract in NBA history” can be attention-grabbing in a headline, or used as a means to subtly criticize Brown’s unbalanced set of skills.
In a recent report by Sports Illustrated, it was noted that the highest-paid player in the history of the NFL is a young quarterback who recently signed a contract extension. This is essentially another way of saying that, in the NFL, the most recently signed contract is always the highest paid. In the earlier part of the 2010s, players like Sam Bradford and Joe Flacco were considered worse than average, but even they were paid well. On the other hand, players like Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, who have multiple MVP awards, have nothing to say about the amount of guaranteed or total money they receive. Recently, new contracts signed by quarterbacks such as Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Jimmy Garoppolo, Matthew Stafford, and Derek Carr have set a new record for money guaranteed or total money. This is because the league’s own skyrocketing money has led to the top end of the NFL being similar to the salary scale in the NBA.
The Golden State Warriors were fortunate to have the opportunity to sign Kevin Durant, which added a significant boost to their already impressive roster during the summer of 2016. However, this move was not the only one that shook the NBA free agency that year, as Mike Conley signed the richest contract at the time, becoming a heralded player. Before that, other notable players such as Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Steph Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Nikola Jokic had also signed some of the biggest contracts in NBA history, proving that the best players usually command the highest salaries in the league.
The new collective bargaining agreement, which allows for a 10% annual increase in the salary cap, will catapult the cap from $124 million in 2022-23 to over $200 million by the end of the decade. With the NBA venturing into uncharted territory, negotiating the next set of TV contracts and a new collective bargaining agreement with the league, another ripple effect from the league’s current financial landscape is also hinted at. However, as precedent from 2016 suggests, it won’t be long before Brown and others are soon eclipsed by Curry.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the league lost revenue, resulting in a stagnant salary cap. As a result, new signings will now create a gap between players who signed extensions in the early 2020s and those who signed in 2016. This means that salaries will increase at a smoother trajectory over multiple seasons, with a jump that is more spread out compared to the 34% spike in 2016. Additionally, the various flavors of max contracts are tied to a percentage of the salary cap, leading to a broader effect when they come into play.
Guess that his deal beating or matching other players resulted in less time for Wall.
Can the Celtics use the extra $10 million per year in the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons to round out their roster and add depth? Given that he’ll be paid about 30 percent more than LaVine, it is clear that Brown is the better two-way player and more experienced, but when comparing his contract to LaVine’s, it’s worth considering how Brown has only appeared in one playoff series in his career, whereas LaVine has had more success in the postseason.
Option 1 is not a bargain because the Thunder will have plenty of flexibility to add young talent to their roster, making them ready for a deep playoff run. If Alexander Gilgeous-Shai continues to perform at his prime, he will make just $37 million per season over the next four years and finished fifth in MVP voting. It also makes sense to apply logic that even smaller capped rookie players signed under 25 percent max extensions.
On their own, the leading supermax athletes will earn approximately the same amount as the combined earnings of Morant and Jackson. Throughout the next three seasons, Jaren Jackson Jr., Who currently holds the title of Defensive Player of the Year, will receive a salary of only $25 million per season. Once Ja Morant returns to the court following his 25-game suspension, he will find himself in a comparable situation with his new contract in Memphis, as his average yearly value is below $40 million. Not securing an All-NBA position last season resulted in him losing nearly $40 million over the duration of his contract because he was unable to transition from a 25 percent maximum salary to a 30 percent maximum salary.
If Mikal Bridges continues to blossom, he could potentially be the second-best player on the Rockets, a two-way force who signed a team-friendly contract this offseason. His contract, averaging just $23.3 million, is even more valuable compared to Dillon Brooks’ contract, making Bridges look like a max-sub candidate. If the Brooklyn Nets ever consider trading for Bridges, they may be able to command a package that is near Durant-level, given his dominant play and rising potential.
If the Knicks were to add a top-tier star like Brunson, they could potentially make a steal of a deal. With the rising salary cap and improvements in Brunson’s game, some people thought the Knicks overpaid for him last summer. However, it turns out that Brunson will only make $51 million over the next two seasons, making him a less expensive option. New York fans may want to travel across to gawk at Jalen Brunson.
It is crucial to consider that the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) contains harsher restrictions on teams that exceed the luxury tax and apron thresholds. Every championship contender needs to find value elsewhere on their roster, as those players who are paid highly will have locked options for the third and fourth years with reasonable dollar amounts.
Is Wiggins as good as Brown, but will he be paid the same amount? The Celtics will pay Brown $109 million over the same period, while the Warriors will only pay Wiggins $54.5 million, combined for the 2024-25 and 2025-26 seasons. Before playing for the recent champions, Wiggins had a more prominent role. Should we look at Wiggins differently because he will make a big amount of money? For instance, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., And Nikola Jokic carry tremendous value for the new NBA champions with Gordon’s deal being worth $21.7 million per year.
In the playoffs, if the player cannot remain on the court, even a reasonably priced contract extension is not worthwhile. Due to Poole’s decline in performance during games, the Warriors made the decision to sever ties with Jordan Poole just as his four-year, $128 million extension was set to take effect this summer. The Warriors made this move to give themselves more flexibility in navigating future financial constraints and also because of Poole’s decline in on-court performance. It should be noted that this analysis does not imply that every contract extension prior to 2023 now appears to be advantageous for the team.
As the summer trade and sign-on period approaches, the Celtics may find themselves in a planning crunch due to the already tight salary cap. One possible reason for this is the potential need to allocate a significant amount of money towards retaining Williams, Grant, Tatum, and Brown in the future. As the salary cap continues to rise, determining how to allocate their funds becomes even riskier for teams.
The constant demand for urgency in trading, contracts, and mandates is a defining characteristic of the NBA’s short nature. As the league’s new financial environment becomes wealthier, teams will need to capitalize on these short windows by signing their own players, such as Brunson, Bridges, and Gilgeous-Alexander, to much bigger extensions. In future summers, these deals may potentially transform into steals for teams, and the current NBA contract cycle will likely see more reasonable signings and fewer overpays.
On the surface, it may seem odd that players signing new deals in a league with a capped economy, like the NBA, might look downright cheap in comparison to the cost and benefit of doing business. However, when players sign supermax contracts worth around $80 million per year, the figures may even make Brown’s cap figure of $80 million per year for some players appear cheap. So, it is not even the top-10 non-max player who has the richest contract in NBA history.