Even with the presence of a salary cap and max contracts, the NBA’s top players will have a diverse range of salaries next season. This is because in the NBA, maybe moreso than any of the other major sports, the salaries of top players are largely dependent on when they are drafted, when their contracts expire, and what the salary cap will be in the first year of their new deals.
Of the players who have finished in the top-12 in MVP voting in the last two seasons, LeBron James is expected to have the highest salary ($US22.1 million) once he signs his max contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers. This is because James has more than 10 years of service time and can earn up to 35% of the projected salary cap.
Meanwhile, other free agents with more than six, but fewer than 10 years of service time (e.g. Kevin Love) can earn 30% of the cap, or about $US18.9 million next season. Players like Stephen Curry and Anthony Davis will continue to be bargains for their teams due in large part to early-career injuries for Curry and a new contract for Davis that won’t kick in until the 2016-17 season.
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