After injuries and underwhelming performances in recent seasons, Los Angeles Laker Kobe Bryant may no longer be considered one of the elite players in the National Basketball Association, but he’s still the highest paid.
The 37-year-old shooting guard will receive a cool $25 million salary for the 2015-2016 season, narrowly beating out the second-highest paid player, Joe Johnson, a small forward for the Brooklyn Nets who will make $24.9 million.
Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James ranks third, with a $23 million salary.
The 100 highest-paid players in the league will make an average of $13.1 million this season. That’s $3 million less than the best professional baseball players, but about $2 million more than top NFL pros.
Even second-tier NBA players do relatively well. The average salary for NBA players this season is $4.1 million, according to BasketballReference.com. And salaries should continue to rise. Next year, the NBA will increase its salary cap (currently $70 million) after signing a nine-year, $24 billion deal selling broadcast and streaming rights to Turner Broadcasting and ESPN.
In the 2016-2017 season, the cap is projected to reach $89 million and the luxury tax line $108 million, just in time for superstars James and Kevin Durant to reach free agent status. The following year, the cap could be $108 million and the luxury tax mark will rise to $127 million, according USA Today.
As recently as 2011, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was claiming the NBA was sharing too much of its revenue with players to continue to operate. Negotiations that year brought the players share of basketball-related income down to 51 percent from 57 percent.