Let’s examine the most expensive NBA contracts in history and determine whether they were or are fair-market agreements in lieu of Jaylen Brown signing a five-year, $304 million supermax contract extension with the Boston Celtics recently. You’ll quickly notice that practically all of them are active and expensive NBA contracts.
We’re examining the overall dollar amount rather than the amount of money earned in a particular season.
The most expensive NBA contracts in history
1) Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Is that a large number? Yes. Is it odd that Jaylen Brown is the first player in the NBA to get a $300 million contract? Sort of. But is it a fair deal — and this is the $300 million question —? I’m going to say that I do. One of the top 20 to 25 NBA players, Brown is only starting his peak. That group receives supermax and expensive NBA contracts. Players who are better than Jaylen Brown and presumably an equal number of players who are worse than Jaylen Brown will obtain “the richest deal in NBA history” as the wage cap continues to increase.
2) Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
This is a pretty cut-and-dry situation. The best player in the world is Nikola Jokic. He is at the height of his abilities. And he merits every cent of this bargain. With another MVP and/or triumph, the two-time MVP and current Finals MVP will have the opportunity to enter the conversation for the title of best international player of all time. That’s correct, if he isn’t already competing on an equal footing with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dirk Nowitzki, he’ll be right there with them.
3) Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
Worst: a contract. Never bargain. Bradley Beal is unquestionably NOT HIM, and anyone who took part in the Wizards’ side of the contract negotiations should not only never be permitted to work in a basketball front office again, but they should also be investigated to determine whether the Beal extension included any sort of illegal kickback. When this deal was signed, Beal was near the end of his prime and ranked as the league’s 30th-best player. He was successful in getting the only no-trade clause in the NBA and a supermax contract.
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4) Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
Devin Booker, his new partner, is definitely worth the supermax; Bradley Beal, however, is not. Booker is definitely the pack leader. the NBA’s standard two-guard position. Booker, who is still just 26 years old, just finished playoffs in which he led the NBA in scoring (33.7 PPG) and assisted (7.2 APG) while shooting an incredibly efficient 59-51-87.
5) Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota T’Wolves
By the month, this contract appears to alternate between being palatable and nauseating. A matchup nightmare for every opponent in the league, Karl-Anthony Towns is probably the finest shooting big man in NBA history when he is at his best. When KAT is at his worst, which all too often happens in the playoffs and crucial games, he disappears offensively, racks up fouls, and becomes a net negative when his team most needs him. The possibility of KAT being dealt with before this agreement is through is not unexpected.
6) Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
If the price tag on Jaylen Brown’s contract extension shocked you, get ready for when Giannis Antetokounmpo chooses to forgo the last year of this agreement and signs whatever the supermax is in the summer of 2025. More than $350 million will probably be required. You’ll earn it, too. Giannis and Nikola Jokic will battle it out for the honours of “Best Player on the Planet” and “Best International Player Ever” for the remainder of their respective careers (barring Luka Doncic or Victor Wembanyama’s intervention).
7) Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento Kings
Gulp! Last year’s regular season saw Domantas Sabonis emerge as a revelation (19.1 PPG, 12.3 RPG, 7.3 APG on 61.5 percent shooting), who also helped the Kings overcome a 16-year playoff drought. But when the playoffs arrived, Draymond Green and Kevin Looney utterly outperformed him, and his stats dropped to 16.4 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game, and 4.7 assists per game on 49.5 percent shooting. Maybe Sabonis will prove me wrong, but I have a feeling the Kings would regret giving him such a big contract when some of their other players’ deals expire.
8) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
No matter how much money Stephen Curry makes, it will never be enough to compensate him for the value he brings to his team and the NBA. This places him in the same category as LeBron James. Curry has had a priceless influence on basketball, and he has elevated the league’s visual appeal beyond anything anybody could have predicted a decade ago. This contract would likely exceed $100 million per year if there were no salary cap, and Warriors governor Joe Lacob would be more than happy to pay it given the value Curry has added to his team.
9) Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
Luka Doncic has established himself as the most talented young player since LeBron James five years into his spectacular career. Doncic is an offensive system unto himself and averaged an astounding 32.4 PPG, 8.6 RPG, and 8 APG last season while only shooting 34.2 percent from three and 74.2 percent from the line, even though his defence will probably always leave a bit to be desired. He is undoubtedly worthy of every dollar of this “fun” max contract, and if he chooses to activate it at the conclusion of the 2025–26 season, he might become the most sought-after free agent since Kevin Durant became an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2016.
10) Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls
Zach LaVine is undoubtedly in the Beal-Sabonis-Towns category of players who aren’t talented enough to be the first choice of a serious contender on the spectrum of supermax expensive NBA contracts. Having said that, LaVine is a potent three-level scorer when he’s in good condition, both with and without the ball. His true shooting percentage of 60.7 per cent is exceptional. He would be a fantastic third option and is dynamic enough to serve as a second option on a team that features a star centre like Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, or Giannis Antetokounmpo.
11) Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
Trae Young is more than justified his supermax deal from a statistical perspective. His statistics from the previous four seasons (27.4 PPG and 9.7 APG) are comparable to those of any point guard in history. However, it’s not apparent how much those high numbers correlate with team performance, with the exception of what looks to have been an anomalous run to the conference finals in 2021. Atlanta has handed him control of the team, but for the Hawks to contend again with him at the centre, he needs to improve as a connector and off-the-ball player.
12) Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
One of the NBA’s top-paid players on a yearly basis, Joel Embiid, would earn much more if there were no salary ceiling in place. The league’s current MVP has placed second (2020–21), second (202–22), and first (202–23) in MVP voting during the previous three seasons. He is in the prime of his life at age 29, and he will remain so for the duration of this deal, which includes a player option after the 2025–26 season. Knock on wood, his early-career injury concerns appear to be behind him, so the Sixers’ biggest fear should be that he may develop a wandering eye if they fail to assemble a contender around him.
13) Russell Westbrook, OKC Thunder
Even though Russell Westbrook wasn’t at fault—he just took the deal that was offered to him—this was one of the worst expensive NBA contracts in recent history. The inconsistent performance (4.2 turnovers per game), terrible shooting (44-30-68 shooting splits), and poor defence were what made it such a terrible deal rather than the production (21 PPG, 8.8 APG, 8.7 APG). Over the span of the deal, he was moved five times and waived once because of how awful the arrangement was.
14) Anthony Edwards, Minnesota T’Wolves
It made perfect sense to quickly agree to this “fun” max agreement this summer. Anthony Edwards, the T’Wolves franchise’s star, made his debut as a superstar at the tender age of 22. In each of his seasons, he has consistently generated (PPG, RPG, APG, SPG, and BPG) and shot well overall. He has also developed as a wing defender, assuming a task that many younger players of his quality shy away from. If Edwards keeps going in this direction and the salary cap rises, he may eventually become the first or one of the first NBA players to accumulate career earnings of more than $1 billion from pricey NBA contracts.
15) LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
LaMelo Ball has the same deal as Ant Edwards, but it doesn’t exactly make you feel as good. And that’s hilarious because Ball’s overall output has grown every season, just like Edwards’ has. His efficiency is still respectable (41-38-84 shooting splits last season), albeit it hasn’t increased every season. The primary problem is that it’s not apparent if he is the kind of winning player that a team can develop around for ten years. We’ll be aware of the response by the conclusion of this agreement.
16) Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana Pacers
The view is probably more similar to Anthony Edwards than the two men prior, but they are under the same contract. Tyrese Haliburton had a phenomenal season last year, scoring 20.7 PPG on top-notch efficiency (49-40-87) and almost led the NBA in assists per game (10.4). In fact, he probably would have carried the Pacers into the playoffs had he not been sidelined by an injury late in the season. With Haliburton committed to the Pacers for the remainder of the decade, the possibilities are endless.
17) Desmond Bane, Memphis Grizzlies
Desmond Bane, who was selected with the 30th overall choice in the draught, received the final of the summer’s “fun” maxes and has already surpassed his original projection, making him one of the top value picks in NBA history. Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are the other studs in Memphis, and Bane is the ideal player to complement them. He is incredibly efficient (48-41-88 shooting splits), has a well-rounded game (21.5 PPG, 5 RPG, 4.4 APG), and is a tenacious wing defender. Compared to Edwards, Ball, and Haliburton, his game is definitely closer to its peak now that he is 25 years old, but any NBA team would give him top dollar for the level of output he offers.
18) Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Without a doubt, this deal will make it impossible for the T’Wolves to assemble a competitive team around Anthony Edwards, even if Rudy Gobert should continue to be an exceptional rim-protector for the duration of it. At the age of 31, Gobert is still primarily a rim runner on offence and is beginning to deteriorate defensively, notably with his ability to shift his feet outside the paint. Although his deal won’t age as horribly as Westbrook’s did, T’Wolves supporters will be troubled by it for years to come.
19) Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
But Stephen Curry wasn’t previously on this list, was he? Yes, Mr Curry appears twice on our list because the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement encourages players to remain with their current team, especially when they consistently garner accolades and are named to All-NBA teams, as Curry has done. It was the biggest contract ever signed in the NBA at the time he signed it. What a crazy increase in contracts there has been subsequently!
20) Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
This should be a great contract once it begins if Ja Morant conducts himself well off the court. Morant, who will be 24 when the next NBA season starts, has already been named to the Second Club All-NBA in the last two seasons (2021–22) and most likely would have been if he hadn’t been suspended after averaging 26.2 PPG, 8.1 APG, and 5.9 RPG on a Memphis club that placed second in the West. He may become the NBA’s face if he gets his act together off the pitch.
21) Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
Zion Williamson is the next player and has the same exact maximum contract extension as Ja Morant, so they both need to pull their act together off the court. Williamson appears to be on the verge of allowing off-court concerns to interfere with what should be a Hall of Fame career, just as Morant did. This deal presents a challenge for the Pelicans since, unlike Morant, Williamson has struggled with injuries during his four seasons as a professional, appearing in only 114 of a possible 328 contests. In the very near future, Zion should have New Orleans challenging for championships if he can stay fit and healthy. If not, he will very certainly be fired (along with the general manager who selected him, David Gryphon).
22) Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers
Darius Garland, a deliciously effective contemporary point guard, is the least contentious of the three max extension players from the 2019 Draught. Garland had a fantastic season in 2022–23 with 21.6 PPG, and 7.8 APG, with shooting splits of 46–41–86 while deftly handling the addition of star player Donovan Mitchell. Even a guard in his early 20s would find it challenging to understand how to play alongside a high-volume, high-usage scorer like Mitchell, but Garland handled the situation as effectively as anybody could have. That’s encouraging for the Cavaliers, who will need to master their peripatetic manoeuvres as the cost of fielding their young, talented squad rises.
These are the most expensive NBA contracts in history. Let us know your reviews in the comment section below.