Contracts and salaries in the NBA are a bit different from the other sports. Players get a certain amount of money for a particular amount of time. The largest contracts are usually given to star players and leaders of the team. So what was the biggest contract in NBA History?
What was the biggest contract in NBA History? The biggest contract in NBA history was signed in December 2020, when Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, using a contract extension, signed a 5-year deal worth $228 million. The 2-time MVP surpassed Russell Westbrook’s previous record with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is not the only player who signed such a massive contract with the team. In this article, we will also review other players and how their deals look like.
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How Antetokounmpo’s deal unfolded?
The extension of the contract with Antetokounmpo remained one of the main unresolved issues of the 2020/2021 season. The deadline for Giannis’ situation expired on December 21st. It seemed that the Greek would delay to the last and, perhaps, even abandon the new agreement with the Bucks, taking a year for reflection and getting the opportunity to assess the situation in the free-agent market in the offseason. However, the Greek player decided not to prolong the situation and signed a $228 million supermaximum contract with the club. This is the largest contract in NBA history.
From the point of view of Giannis, the decision is quite understandable. The Bucks is the Greek’s home club. The forward was picked by the Bucks under the 15th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Then the potential of Antetokounmpo was greatly underestimated by many clubs. Ultimately, Giannis was named MVP of the league twice in a row (2019, 2020) and participated in the All-Star Game four times (2017-2021). Currently, he is listed at least at the level of the top 3 NBA players.
Other players with massive contracts
We have mentioned at the beginning of the article that besides Giannis Antetokounmpo other players also have big contracts with teams. Some of these players are in other franchises, right now, but their contracts at the time of the signing were one of the largest in the NBA. We should also point out that if you take inflation into account, it turns out that the highest-paid player in the history of the NBA is still Michael Jordan. In the late 1990s, when he played for the Chicago Bulls, he was paid $35 million a year, which is now roughly $52.5 million.
In 2017, Russell Westbrook signed a new multi-year deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The terms of the contract and the duration were not disclosed initially, but it beceme known afterwards, that the point guard got the largest contract at the time. Reportedly, he was going to earn earning $233 million over 6 years. The player’s average annual salary was $41 million. Prior to that, the record contract belonged to James Harden of Houston with an average annual salary of $38 million.
Westbrook was the No. 4 overall pick by Thunder in the 2008 NBA Draft. He also became the second player in history after Oscar Robertson to complete a regular-season triple-double. Right now Westbrook is playing for the Washington Wizards.
At the moment, Harden is playing for the Brooklyn Nets, but before coming to the latter, he was an ultimate leader of the Rockets. In July 2017 the Houston Rockets have signed a new deal with James Harden Houston. They were so pleased with Harden’s performance that they decided to worry in advance that he would not go to someone else.
As a result, agents of James Harden agreed to extend the contract for another four years, until the end of the 2022/23 season. It was a $228 million contract over six yeras. There has never been such a big deal in NBA history until the abovementioned Westbrook and Antetokounmpo appeared.
Paul George was always a prominent figure in every team. And his contract can prove this. In 2020, the Los Angeles Clippers signed a new contract with him, which will allow him to earn 226 million over the next 5 years.
Paul George moved to the Clippers before the start of the 2019/2020 season and averaged 21.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.9 assists in the regular season, and 20.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
One of the best shooters of all time Steph Curry also has a club record-breaking contract with the Golden State Warriors. The new agreement between the parties included a total of $201 million over 5 years.
Curry became the champion with the Warriors three times. During the 2020/2021 season, he returned from the injury and was one of the main candidates for the MVP title, but eventually, Jokic beat him.
One of the members of “Splash Brothers” and a pivotal figure in the Golden State Warriors – Klay Thompson, who is now injured – also has a huge contract with the team. The shooting guard signed the deal with the team, amounting to $190 million over 5 years.
Thompson was selected 11th in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Golden State Warriors. As part of the Warriors, he has become a three-time NBA champion. In the 2018/2019 postseason in the sixth game of the final series of the playoffs with the Raptors, he was replaced in the third quarter and left the arena on crutches. The player was later diagnosed with a cruciate ligament rupture.