The NBA's Top Earners of All Time, Ranked
Just a decade ago, Kevin Garnett was the highest-paid player during the 2008-2009 NBA season, earning roughly $24.8 million. These days, that figure seems like a drop in the bucket. Thanks in part to a colossal TV rights deal worth $24 billion over nine years, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and its teams have the cash to offer players impressive contracts.
For the 2019-2020 season, Steph Curry is the highest-paid player, making nearly double Garnett’s pay for a single season. This trend — coupled with the league’s smaller rosters — means more and more basketball stars are carving out lucrative careers. Find out who tops our countdown of highest-paid NBA players of all time.
30. Vince Carter | $169.5 million
After playing for 21 seasons, the 42-year-old Vince Carter shows no signs of slowing down. With 17 points and four rebounds in just 23 minutes of play, Carter — playing for the Atlanta Hawks — led his team to victory as recently as October 2019 in an exhibition game against the New York Knicks.
29. Mike Conley | $173.6 million
Diana Allen, a writer for SLC Dunk, recently called Mike Conley "a superstar tailor-made for the Utah Jazz." The point guard became a coveted asset while playing for the Memphis Grizzlies, earning both the NBA Teammate of the Year Award once and the NBA Sportsmanship Award three times.
28. Kevin Love | $174.6 million
Drafted by the Memphis Grizzlies but then traded that same night to the Minnesota Timberwolves, Kevin Love quickly made a name for himself. The five-time NBA All-Star signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014 and just two years later helped the team defeat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
27. Marc Gasol | $178 million
As a member of Spain’s national team, Marc Gasol won two Olympic silver medals and two FIBA World Cup titles. Towering at 7 feet 1 inch tall, Gasol went on to make a name for himself as a center in the NBA, playing for both the Memphis Grizzlies and — most recently — the Toronto Raptors.
26. Chris Webber | $178.2 million
Chris Webber began and ended his NBA career with the Golden State Warriors. In between those years, he actually played for quite a few teams — most notably the Sacramento Kings. The five-time NBA All-Star signed his most lucrative career deal with the Kings — seven years at $127 million — earning him a career high of $19.1 million for a single season of play.
25. Paul Millsap | $181.2 million
Drafted by the Utah Jazz during the 2006 NBA draft, Paul Millsap started off strong and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team. In 2013, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks on a two-year deal, later re-upping with the team with a three-year, $59 million contract.
24. Jason Kidd | $182 million
During his 19-season career in the NBA, Jason Kidd played for five teams. Since retiring and moving into coaching, he has coached three teams. With 10 All-Star Games, five First Team All-NBA honors and a championship title under his belt, it’s no wonder Kidd donned the coach’s mantle — or blazer, in this case.
23. Ray Allen | $184.4 million
After 18 seasons of play, Ray Allen garnered 10 All-Star Game appearances and an impressive two championship titles. While playing for the UConn Huskies, Allen developed a reputation as an impressive long-range shooter, and this reputation followed him to the NBA.
22. James Harden | $185.5 million
James Harden has earned more than $185 million in 11 seasons in the NBA playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. As one of the league’s most prolific scorers, this "Best Shooting Guard in the NBA’s" earnings can only continue to climb.
21. Al Horford | $186.4 million
After playing for several seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics, Al Horford signed an impressive five-year deal with the Philadelphia 76ers during the offseason, just ahead of the 2019 term. After that half-decade deal is up, Horford will have earned an estimated $295.4 million throughout his entire career.
20. Tyson Chandler | $187.7 million
For 18 seasons, Tyson Chandler has played for nine NBA teams, but the near-constant trades all boil down to the fact that he’s a much sought-after player. Chandler was named NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and has been named to the NBA All-Defensive Team an impressive three times.
19. Blake Griffin | $192.3 million
Six-time NBA All-Star and five-time All-NBA player Blake Griffin was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers in 2009, but a pre-season injury sidelined him. The following season, he had a meteoric debut, winning the NBA Slam Dunk Contest and snagging the Rookie of the Year title.
18. LaMarcus Aldridge | $194.7 million
With 13 seasons and seven All-Star Games under his belt, LaMarcus Aldridge has proven that hard work can make you one of the best — and wealthiest — players in the game. After rocky sophomore and junior seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Aldridge re-upped his contract with a five-year, $65 million extension.
17. Paul Pierce | $195.1 million
Over the course of 19 seasons, Paul Pierce played in 10 NBA All-Star Games, and although he never nabbed a championship title, the forward was named NBA Finals MVP in 2008. He hopped between teams for his last few seasons, but Pierce played the bulk of his career with the Boston Celtics.
16. Dwyane Wade | $196.4 million
Sixteen-season vet Dwyane Wade played in a whopping 12 All-Star Games and won a jaw-dropping three championship titles, all with the Miami Heat. Wade has played the bulk of his career with the Heat — the team that drafted him — and plans to retire after the 2019-2020 season with the Heat.
15. Zach Randolph | $196.6 million
Zach Randolph has made a long, 18-season career out of playing in the NBA. After being named the NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2004, he signed a six-year, $84 million extension with the Portland Trail Blazers.
14. Russell Westbrook | $205.4 million
Russell Westbrook’s latest contract with the Houston Rockets in 2019 is a mega-deal for the star. The point guard signed up for five years for a whopping $206 million. That means his average yearly salary comes in at $41.4 million.
13. Joe Johnson | $214.8 million
Joe Johnson has played for seven teams in the NBA throughout his career, so he’s been offered quite a few great deals. The best, however, came in 2010 when he signed an extension with the Atlanta Hawks — six years for $123.7 million. At the time of this deal, Johnson was the NBA’s highest-paid player.
12. Pau Gasol | $220.5 million
Pau Gasol, older brother of Marc Gasol, is a six-time NBA All-Star and four-time All-NBA honoree. Perhaps even more impressively, he won two NBA championship titles, both with the Los Angeles Lakers. The 18-season vet’s highest single-season earnings came in at $19.3 million.
11. Kevin Durant | $225.4 million
If we were factoring in endorsement deals with the likes of Nike and Foot Locker, Kevin Durant’s earnings would earn him a spot much closer to the top. Nonetheless, his NBA earnings are still mind-blowing. After winning back-to-back NBA championship titles with the Golden State Warriors, he re-signed with the team on a reported two-year, $61.5 million contract.
10. Chris Bosh | $239.1 million
Chris Bosh played with the Toronto Raptors for the first half of his NBA career, becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in points, rebounds, blocks and minutes played. After seven seasons, he was traded to the Miami Heat, where he formed the "Big Three" with teammates Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.
9. Dwight Howard | $240.1 million
Following in the footsteps of his idol Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard went straight from high school to the 2004 NBA draft. The eight-time NBA All-Star is also a five-time NBA rebounding leader and two-time leader in blocks.
8. Tim Duncan | $242 million
Unlike other players, who often chase deals with other teams, Tim Duncan played for the San Antonio Spurs for the duration of his 19-year career. In that time, he became a five-time NBA champion, two-time NBA MVP, three-time NBA Finals MVP and 15-time NBA All-Star.
7. Carmelo Anthony | $246.8 million
As a freshman at Syracuse, Carmelo Anthony led the team to an NCAA championship title and was named Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. Drafted by the Denver Nuggets, he led the team to the playoffs every year from 2004 to 2010 — though none of those appearances led to a championship title.
6. Dirk Nowitzki | $251.6 million
Considered one of the best power forwards in NBA history, Dirk Nowitzki played an impressive 21 seasons in the league, all with the Dallas Mavericks. The 14-time NBA All-Star has also been named the NBA's Most Valuable Player as well as the NBA Finals MVP in 2011, the same year he and the Mavericks won the championship title.
5. Chris Paul | $260.9 million
One of the highest-paid athletes in the world, Chris Paul’s numbers would be even greater if we included all those State Farm and Nike endorsements. Over the course of 15 seasons, he has played for several different teams, most notably the New Orleans Hornets and the Los Angeles Clippers.
4. Shaquille O’Neal | $286.4 million
Drafted by the Orlando Magic in 1992, Shaquille O’Neal went on to win Rookie of the Year. After several years with the Magic, he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, helping them win a whopping three consecutive NBA championship titles.
3. LeBron James | $307 million
From Bleacher Report to Fox Sports, numerous publications have dubbed LeBron James "the greatest basketball player of all time." Despite being known as the face of the Cleveland Cavaliers, James actually won two of his impressive three championship titles with the Miami Heat.
2. Kobe Bryant | $323.3 million
Entering the NBA right after high school, Kobe Bryant played the entirety of his 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers. An 18-time All-Star and 15-time member of the All-NBA Team, Bryant has a whopping five NBA championship titles to his name.
1. Kevin Garnett | $334.3 million
Kevin Garnett played an accomplished 21 seasons in the NBA, with the bulk of his tenure spent with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Boston Celtics. Considered one of the greatest power forwards in history, Garnett was initially in the spotlight because he became the first NBA player in two decades to be drafted directly out of high school.