How much each of the NBA’s top stars will earn on supermax contracts

Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)
Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid (Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports) /

The NBA’s television contract is set to expire after the 2023–2024 season, and that will prove to be a game-changer when it does. Whenever the NBA negotiates a new television deal, the league’s basketball-related income skyrockets, which also causes the salary cap to do the same.

Estimates have the new TV contract being more than double the current one, which would result in the cap going up an estimated 10% a year for the foreseeable future. With the salary cap set at $136 million for next season, that could mean at least a $13 million increase every season over the next several years.

That obviously means more money for the players, particularly the best ones, who can receive between 25% and 35% of the salary cap depending on their years of service. Rising stars coming off rookie deals can qualify for up to 25%; superstars who qualify for the designated player extension (or supermax contracts) can receive 35%; and stars who fall just short can receive 30%.

However, thanks to the new collective bargaining agreement, it will be easier for the league’s top players to make an All-NBA team. Under the new rules, each spot on the All-NBA team is now positionless, which potentially means more players will qualify for a supermax contract. Ironically, the new CBA also makes it next to impossible to afford more than one of those players.

The NBA’s new CBA makes it next to impossible to afford more than one superstar.

While only the Boston Celtics are likely to have two supermax players, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum, it’s not out of the question for someone like Denver’s Jamal Murray to also qualify for a supermax contract along with Nikola Jokic. After all, Murray had a terrific postseason, raising his profile and theoretically increasing the chance that a strong 2023–24 season could result in an All-NBA selection. Or the Nuggets could make it back to the NBA Finals, and he might win Finals MVP.

That would put Denver in a tough spot, with two players potentially signing contracts worth at least $350 million in the near future. The Nuggets aren’t exactly rolling in dough, even after winning a championship, and it’s unlikely that they could afford that. Even if they can, it may eventually mean losing Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon.

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Overall, supermax contracts are designed for the best of the best, and Luka Doncic, Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tatum, and Joel Embiid are certainly that. Be that as it may, the skyrocketing cap and the CBA will force teams to get stingier with who gets these contracts. In theory, that is a good thing, but it will eventually mean a great team will be forced to trade a great player rather than pay them a big contract or risk losing them for nothing.