Listing the 9 NBA players who are currently on supermax contracts

Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game
Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game

The NBA is showering players with money more than ever before. It is the biggest sport in the US in terms of worldwide following and naturally, has some of the highest paid players in the world.

The league's licensing and broadcast deals go into the tens of billions as the viewership is growing year by year. 35 of the 100 highest-paid athletes in the world, across all sports, are NBA players.

The likes of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Kobe Bryant have featured in the top 10 for years. The highest-paid athlete in the world for all-time earnings is Michael Jordan who has made over $1.8 billion in salaries and endorsements.

NBA's supermax contract and the players on it

The largest salaried contract in the NBA is the 'supermax' deal, officially known as the "Designated Veteran Player Exception", which allows teams that drafted a player (or traded for his rookie deal) to re-sign him for a whopping 35% of the team's salary cap, with an 8% escalation in each subsequent year.

In order to qualify for this deal, a player must fulfill the following criteria:

1) He must be entering his eighth season (or higher) in the NBA.

2) He should have made the All-NBA team (any of the three) in either the season immediately before signing the extension, or two of the three previous seasons.

3) He should have been the NBA MVP at least once in the previous three seasons or the NBA DPOY in either the season immediately before signing the extension, or two of the three previous seasons.

Only a handful of players have qualified for this "supermax" deal as achieving these accolades isn't easy. So let's take a look at this exclusive club of the league's best players who bag the highest salaries in the NBA.

#1 Stephen Curry

Stephen Curry in the 2019 NBA Finals
Stephen Curry in the 2019 NBA Finals

Stephen Curry took the Golden State Warriors franchise to where it is today. They made the NBA Finals for five straight years, something that hadn't been done since Bill Russell's Boston Celtics in the 1960s. He won back-to-back MVP awards, with the second one being the only unanimous MVP in NBA history.

One could go on and on about his accolades and otherworldly achievements but it is no surprise that the Warriors are paying him a fortune, considering he is the best player in franchise history.

Naturally, he signed a supermax deal worth $201 million in 2017 and then signed another one in 2021 worth $215 million, making him the only player in NBA history to sign multiple $200M+ deals.

Stephen Curry would be earning close to $60 million in the final year of his deal in 2025-26. He is currently the highest-paid player in the league.

#2 Damian Lillard

Damian Lillard in the 2021 NBA playoffs
Damian Lillard in the 2021 NBA playoffs

One of the best players to don the Portland Trail Blazers jersey, Damian Lillard had the largest guaranteed contract in the NBA until last season with $257 million guaranteed through the 2024-25 NBA season. He has since been overshadowed by Curry's massive deal and the salary cap projection has gone down.

Damian Lillard is the 5th-highest salaried player in the NBA and will earn over $50 million in the 2023-24 NBA season. He has broken several Trail Blazers records and is arguably one of the best shooters this game has ever seen.

There is no doubt that his no. 0 jersey will hang in the Moda Center rafters one day and he is certainly a lock-in for the Basketball Hall of Fame at this point.

#3 Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo after winning the 2021 NBA championship
Giannis Antetokounmpo after winning the 2021 NBA championship

Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the best players to don a Milwaukee Bucks jersey. He is already more accomplished than all the players his age combined.

At age 26, he is a two-time MVP, Finals MVP, MIP award winner, DPOY, five-time All-NBA, and an All-Star game MVP, amongst other things. He led the Bucks to their first NBA title in 50 years.

Giannis Antetokounmpo signed the biggest deal in NBA history at $228 million and will earn an average salary of $45.6 million over the next five years. His payroll for the 2025-26 NBA season is $52 million.

#4 Rudy Gobert

Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz

Rudy Gobert's supermax extension came as a surprise to many NBA fans and pundits. It is understandable to assume he doesn't deserve that kind of money considering he averages around 14 points per game for his career.

He is the first player to earn the supermax purely based on his defensive prowess. The Frenchman is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year and won his latest award last season.

He turned down the max contract that the Utah Jazz offered him, making his case that he is eligible for the supermax. The team eventually folded and agreed to sign him to the massive deal worth $205 million for five years.

#5 Joel Embiid

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers

Joel Embiid joins an elite list of Philadelphia 76ers big men. He is the team's best player right now and was the runner-up for the MVP award last season. Embiid has been putting up excellent numbers every season he has been in the league.

He has never averaged less than 20 points per game in his career and has averaged double-digit rebounds every season except his rookie one. It is understandable why the Philadelphia 76ers jumped at the opportunity to extend the Cameroonian big man.

Joel Embiid took to social media after signing the extension and wrote:

"There’s no place like PHILADELPHIA!!! Excited to continue working towards bringing a title home and eventually retire here."

He has a player option for the 2026-27 NBA season worth $54.2 million considering the salary cap projection doesn't go down.

#6 Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks in the 2021 NBA playoffs
Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks in the 2021 NBA playoffs

At age 22, Luka Doncic is the youngest player in NBA history to sign a supermax deal. He qualified for the offer because he made two First Team All-NBA appearances in the last two years and is arguably the most talented player under 25 in the league today.

He is the face of the Dallas Mavericks franchise and the city of Dallas rewarded him by naming July 6th as Luka Doncic Day.

He has already broken several NBA records and is a pre-season MVP favorite for the upcoming season. Luka Doncic has extraordinary stat lines to his name, such as a 40-point triple-double in the playoffs with a game-winning buzzer-beater. He will make $47.1M in the 2026-27 NBA season.

#7 Russell Westbrook

Russell Westbrook at the LA Lakers Media Day
Russell Westbrook at the LA Lakers Media Day

Russell Westbrook is one of three players in the NBA who are in the final year of their supermax deal. He signed a supermax with the OKC Thunder in 2019 and has since been to three different teams - the Houston Rockets, the Washington Wizards and now the LA Lakers.

Westbrook will earn $44.2 million in the upcoming 2021-22 NBA season and has a player option worth $47 million next year.

#8 John Wall

John Wall with the Houston Rockets in 2021
John Wall with the Houston Rockets in 2021

John Wall is the second player who is on the final year of his supermax deal. He is owed $44.3 million for the upcoming season and has a player option worth $47.3 million for the 2022-23 NBA season, which he is expected to pick up.

He signed his deal with the Washington Wizards but due to his Achilles injury and subsequent absence, his contract is one of the most toxic deals in the NBA. The Houston Rockets agreed to trade Wall but are now finding it tough to land a trade partner due to his large contract.

#9 James Harden

James Harden with the Brooklyn Nets in the 2021 NBA playoffs
James Harden with the Brooklyn Nets in the 2021 NBA playoffs

James Harden is the third player in the final year of his supermax deal. He signed one with the Houston Rockets and has since been traded to the Brooklyn Nets. Harden will earn a salary of $43.8 million and has a player option of $46.8 million next year.

He is yet to sign a contract extension with the Brooklyn Nets and is likely to do so. Harden is currently the fourth-highest paid player in the NBA.

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Edited by Rohit Mishra