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How Kevin Garnett's career earnings make him the highest paid player in NBA history

1.45K   //    01 Mar 2016, 19:05 IST
kevin garnett
Kevin Garnett

The six feet eleven inches tall Minnesota player was the first High-school NBA draft since 1975 and his timing is the precise reason why Kevin Garnett’s career earnings make him the highest paid player in the NBA history.

Although never been touted as one of the best, the 39-year-old has more accumulated salary in his 21-year long NBA career than any other player in NBA history, including the likes of Shaquille O’ Neal, Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan, with a total of $343.4 million.

Garnett’s failure to get into college Basketball is one of the reasons making him the highest paid player in NBA history

Kevin Garnett failed to make the merit in his ACTs, which is a requirement to join the college basketball – NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). He then decided to turn pro fresh out of college and the promising 19-year-old was picked by the Minnesota Timberwolves as the fifth overall pick in the 1995 NBA draft.

Durant signed a $5.4 million rookie deal with the Wolves for three years. The timing was important here because at the time Garnett signed the deal, players were allowed to become a free agent after three years in the NBA.

Garnett was pretty lucky to get drafted fresh out of high school as ten years later in 2005 the NBA put a ban on NBA drafts straight from high school. 

The $126 million and $100 million deals, which shaped Garnett’s highly paid future

In his last rookie year, at the age of 21 in the 1997-98 season, the Wolves gave a six-year extension to Garnett’s contract which cost them $126 million. This deal budged the NBA, but a disagreement between the association and club owners led to a lockdown that engulfed half of the 1998-99 season. The lockdown was removed in January 1999 as the NBA changed the rules for rookie contracts and also put an upper cap on player’s salary. 

But all this didn’t change the existing contracts as Garnett had already crossed his rookie career deal and now earned $28 million per year after being given the six-year extension at Minnesota Timberwolves.

At the age of 27, Kevin Garnett was the MVP of the season and also at the end of his six-year deal. Without further adieu, the Wolves gave Garnett his second extension with a five-year-deal worth $100 million. 

Three years later, Garnett was traded to the Celtics in 2007 giving him a three-year extension worth $51 million in addition to his remaining two-year contract with the Wolves. Having played 12 seasons with the Wolves, Garnett was the only player at the time in the NBA to have stayed so long with a club.


His transfer to Celtics also came with 7 players on their way from Celtics to Timberwolves, which marked the first time seven players were traded for one.

Kevin Garnett’s only NBA title and return to the Minnesota Timberwolves

In his second season at the Boston Celtics, Garnett won his first and only NBA championship in 2008 and had a partly injury-marred time at Celtics. It was believed that Garnett will retire after his current deal with the Celtics after the 2011-12 season, but they re-signed him on a $36 million three-year-deal.

The aging roster didn’t bring much success for the Celtics and they made a blockbuster deal with the Nets which got them a few future first-round picks and four players for three of their own including Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.

The Brooklyn Nets didn’t succeed under the leadership of Garnett who produced career-low scores and rebounds during his time with the Nets and returned to the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2015. He signed a two-year deal worth $16 million, with an option to join the coaching staff in his second year of the deal. 

When Garnett will retire as a player, he would’ve made a total of $343.4 million in his 22 year NBA career.