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How much are max contracts worth?

Jun 25, 2014, 12:31 PM EDT

NBA All-Star Game 2014 Getty Images

In the coming weeks, you’ll surely hear a lot about max contracts.

But how much are they actually worth?

It depends and can vary a great deal.

That’s an unsatisfying answer, but if you’re looking for clarity on the term, it’s necessary to understand.

To start, maximum salaries are based on the salary cap and experience. Experience levels are split into three groups: 0-6 years, 7-9 years and 10+ years. The more experienced the group, the greater percentage of the salary cap that forms a max contract.

However, a free agent can always get 105% of his previous salary – even if that’s more than his experience calls for. This year, four potential free agents – including those who’ve already stated their intention to opt in – are or would have been eligible for a higher max than prescribed by their experience level.

Only the first year of a new contract follows that rule. After that, players who re-sign can get 7.5% raises and players who leave can get 4.5% raises. Players who re-sign can also get five-year contracts, and players who leave can get just four years.

Larry Coon’s FAQ have more information on max contracts if you’re interested.

Based on the projected salary cap of $63.2 million, here’s what max contracts would be based on experience and the four exceptions:

0-6 years

Year Re-sign Leave
One $14,756,881 $14,756,881
Two $15,863,647 $15,420,940
Three $16,970,413 $16,085,000
Four $18,077,179 $16,749,060
Five $19,183,945
Total $84,852,064 $63,011,880

7-9 years

Year Re-sign Leave
One $17,708,257 $17,708,257
Two $19,036,376 $18,505,128
Three $20,364,495 $19,302,000
Four $21,692,615 $20,098,871
Five $23,020,734
Total $101,822,477 $75,614,256

10+ years

Year Re-sign Leave
One $20,659,633 $20,659,633
Two $22,209,105 $21,589,316
Three $23,758,578 $22,519,000
Four $25,308,050 $23,448,683
Five $26,857,523
Total $118,792,889 $88,216,633

Dirk Nowitzki (probably won’t get the max)

Year Re-sign Leave
One $23,857,450 $23,857,450
Two $25,646,759 $24,931,035
Three $27,436,068 $26,004,621
Four $29,225,376 $27,078,206
Five $31,014,685
Total $137,180,338 $101,871,312

Amar’e Stoudemire (declining his early-termination option)

Year Re-sign Leave
One $22,763,888 $22,763,888
Two $24,471,179 $23,788,263
Three $26,178,471 $24,812,638
Four $27,885,762 $25,837,012
Five $29,593,054
Total $130,892,354 $97,201,800

Carmelo Anthony (already committed to opting out)

Year Re-sign Leave
One $22,458,402 $22,458,402
Two $24,142,782 $23,469,030
Three $25,827,162 $24,479,658
Four $27,511,542 $25,490,286
Five $29,195,922
Total $129,135,810 $95,897,375

Rudy Gay (opting in)

Year Re-sign Leave
One $18,783,379 $18,783,379
Two $20,192,132 $19,628,631
Three $21,600,885 $20,473,883
Four $23,009,639 $21,319,135
Five $24,418,392
Total $108,004,427 $80,205,027

The NBA will announce its official salary cap in July, and I’ll update these figures then.

In the meantime, if you’re projecting which teams have room to sign Melo, LeBron James or any other high-level player, these are good baselines for knowing how much cap room is necessary.

  1. Mr. Wright 212 - Jun 25, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    If you think Melo is leaving $34 Million — at the very least — on the table to go join a shaky (don’t care what anyone says) situation in Chicago, you’re a FOOL (Mike Francesa Voice).

    • loubearkane - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      Shaky… Yeah they win 50 games with their best player injured and no true scorers.

      • antistratfordian - Jun 25, 2014 at 3:29 PM

        Their best player wasn’t injured. He won DPOY.

      • sonnysuave - Jun 25, 2014 at 5:36 PM

        In that case, their best (active) player is by no means a scorer… yet they still won 50 games. Whereas NY has better players with more talent (chandler, stoudemire, jr smith, tim hardaway, bargnani, kmart, shump). Guarantee if we put a poll up asking which situation is more shaky (minus homer votes)… 100% of votes goes to NY. Ironic.

      • loubearkane - Jun 25, 2014 at 6:06 PM

        Stoudemire making a comeback
        Shump I’ll buy not

        J.R. Barg or Kmart

    • sportsfan18 - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      uh, news flash for you…

      ANY place Melo plays in is a shaky situation…

      has never sniffed the finals, hasn’t ever played in a conf finals…

      won’t ever win a title while he’s the #1 option…

      • kinggw - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:48 PM

        He did play in a conference Finals in 09′

      • bougin89 - Jun 25, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        “has never sniffed the finals, hasn’t ever played in a conf finals…”


      • blackman24 - Jun 25, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        Uh, news flash for you… He played in the WCF in 09. You hate on the man so hard, you can’t even state facts when you post. SMH!!!!

      • blackman24 - Jun 25, 2014 at 4:08 PM

        And why we are on the subject of hating, the man who you want the Bulls to get in Love, hasn’t even played in the playoffs. Bwahahahahaha!!!!

  2. redbullenergydrink - Jun 25, 2014 at 1:51 PM

    Look at those $$$numbers$$$! And here I am hoping for $100,000/yr. Haha!

  3. canuckinamerica - Jun 25, 2014 at 6:19 PM

    When you,look at these numbers, then think back to how much police, fire people, teachers make… is just ludicrous. I have not gone to a professional game nor bought any TV package in years because of this insanity.

    • 00maltliquor - Jun 25, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      Entertainment is at a premium. Those other professions don’t entertain or bring in money (well, maybe police with all their bs tickets and arrest). Your worth what someone will pay. Plus, what other profession puts your body in harm and risk injury more then professional sports? Not even Law Enforcement gest injured like pro sports players do. Get over it, it is what it is.

  4. rajbais - Jun 25, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    The owners need a way better TV deal to have a cap WAY greater than $63 million.

    $63 million??

    In the last CBA there was a $58 million dollar cap.

    ESPN should let Fox Sports 1 have NBA games too.

    Fewer networks = smaller cap. Greater cap = the greater the chance of re-signing players and maintaining continuity.

    After all, the lockout was also based on the Big 3 getting together in Miami.

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