The average NBA player will earn $7.7 million this season, but the players on this list are far from average. Of course, not all of the contracts below were winners. Some proved to be downright catastrophic due to injuries, bad timing, or simply underperformance.
1. Stephen Curry, Warriors - $40,231,758
In 2017, the Warriors made Steph Curry the NBA's first $200 million man, giving him a five-year contract worth $201 million. The timing justified it - Curry had just won MVP by a unanimous vote and led the Warriors to their second NBA title in three seasons. Even as he recovers from an injury will have him out until at least March, the Warriors could rely on his veteran leadership in the future as they rebuild from what has been a catastrophic season.
2. Chris Paul, Thunder - $38,506,482
No contract in the current NBA has held a team back more than the four-year, $160 million the Rockets gave to Chris Paul. His time in Houston was defined by suspensions, declining play, and friction with James Harden, and he led them no closer to the NBA Finals than they were before him. The Oklahoma City Thunder have since taken on his ginormous contract, and Paul's career has seen a resurgence there.
3. Russell Westbrook, Rockets - $38,178,000
At one point, Russell Westbrook held the highest-paying contract in NBA history in terms of guaranteed money. In September 2017, he signed a five-year extension worth $205 million, all of it guaranteed. However, when he was traded to the Rockets in August 2019, he modified the terms of his contract so that the team, which was already approaching the salary cap, did not have to pay as much of his contract up front.
T4. John Wall, Wizards - $37,800,000
This could go down as one of the most "it seemed like a good idea at the time" contracts in history. When Wall signed his four-year, $170 million contract in the summer of 2017, the Wizards were an up-and-coming Eastern Conference power, all thanks to Wall. Unfortunately, Wall's Achilles troubles have flared up time and time again, and he hasn't played competitive basketball for nearly two years. Since then, the Wizards have regressed to mediocrity and will have to absorb the blow of Wall's injury until 2022-23.
T4. James Harden, Rockets - $37,800,000
James Harden's most recent contract extension, signed in 2017, surpassed Stephen Curry (as noted above) as the richest in NBA history. The four-year extension onto the current contract, made possible by the first-ever Designated Player Veteran Extension, will pay out a total of $228 million up to the 2022-23 season. Now that Harden has both Westbrook around him, nothing less than a championship in the next five years will do for the Rockets, especially as the Western Conference becomes a wide-open race.
6. LeBron James, Lakers - $37,436,858
The signing of LeBron James in 2018 was the first major free agency coup by Los Angeles Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka after numerous failed attempts by the Lakers to woo big-name talent in recent years. After a false start last year, James finally has the talent around him to lead a successful rebuild of the organization which spent the latter part of the 2010s in a tailspin.
7. Kevin Durant, Nets - $37,199,000
The Brooklyn Nets made a big splash when they spent $164 million (over four years) on a player they knew would not take the court for another year following an Achilles tear during the 2019 NBA Finals. Durant has yet to play a minute in a Nets uniform, and has made plenty of negative headlines off the court during his absence. Once he returns, he may not be the same playmaker he once was with OKC and Golden State.
8. Kemba Walker, Celtics - $34,379,100
The Celtics took a chance on Kemba Walker, the only star on a fledgling Charlotte Hornets team, and offered him $141 million over four years. So far, the investment has paid off handsomely. Walker reached the All-Star Game for the second consecutive year and has led the Celtics to 3rd in the Eastern Conference, chasing the defending champion Raptors in the Atlantic division and exposing how poor of a fit Walker was in the Hornets' system.
9. Blake Griffin, Pistons - $34,234,964
When the Pistons shocked the NBA and traded for the Clippers' centerpiece in January 2018, they took on Griffin's albatross of a contract: five years, $171 million. In his first full year in Detroit, Griffin's career looked to be on the rebound, as he returned to the All-Star game and reached a career high in points per game. But his left knee troubles came back to haunt him, finally sidelining him for good this January and leaving the Pistons behind the eight-ball.
10. Kyle Lowry, Raptors - $33,296,296
Kyle Lowry is in the final year of a three-year, $100 million contract signed in 2017, but Raptors fans shouldn't worry about Lowry hitting the free agent market anytime soon. This October, Toronto signed Lowry to a one-year, $34 million extension that will keep him a Raptor through 2020-21.