Posted on July 1, 2017, by Travis Pulver
The Golden State Warriors knew the day was going to come when Steph Curry would no longer be the most underpaid player in the NBA. When he signed a four-year, $44 million deal back in 2012, his star hadn’t quite taken off yet. A few years and hundreds of three-pointers later and it clearly has.
So—if they didn’t pay him appropriately, someone from the long line of teams willing to do so certainly would have.
But the Warriors front office is not stupid. They knew their young superstar deserved a supermax deal and they offered him one—five years, $201 million. It is easily the richest contract in NBA history averaging over $40 million a season. The previous high had belonged to Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley (five years, $153 million) before Blake Griffin surpassed it with his new deal (five years, $175 million).
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Curry’s salary next season–$34.7 million—will top the mark for the highest single-season salary, a mark currently held by Michael Jordan ($33.1 million, 1997-98 with the Chicago Bulls). He will also become the highest paid athlete in American sports surpassing Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zach Greinke ($34.4 million).
Yes, a few NFL players have made more in a single season. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck made $44 million last season, but $32 million of that was his signing bonus.
He will not, however, become the highest paid athlete in the world. That honor will remain with a pair of soccer stars, Cristiano Ronaldo ($58 million; $93 million with endorsements) and Lionel Messi ($53.1 million; $80 million with endorsements).
Factor in his expected endorsement earnings and he’ll make upwards of $80 million next year.
Several players took to Twitter to congratulate Curry on his new contract. But there have also been some—like LeBron James—that have also said he is underpaid. With the value that he brings to the team, James thinks Curry is worth more like $400 million over five years.
The Warriors franchise has become much more valuable since Curry, and the rest of the roster have combined to become the best team on the planet. Joe Lacob bought the team in 2010 for $450 million. Seven years and two NBA Championships later, the Warriors are valued at $2.6 billion.
Success is likely going to get very expensive for the Warriors in the near future. The team was able to resign some role players to affordable deals (Shaun Livingston (three years, $24 million) and David West (one-year, $2.3 million). Andre Iguodala is being courted by several teams, but the Warriors are expected to make him a nice, three-year offer in the range of $13-15 million a year.
Oh—and they need to get Kevin Durant back under contract.
Durant was scheduled to make $27.7 million next season had he not opted out of his contract. He is expected to sign for around $31 million for next season.
With Curry’s new $34.4 million salary factored the Warriors team salary is already $82.5 million. Factor in the cap holds for the rest of the team, and the Warriors team salary could hit $141.5 million.
The luxury tax threshold is $119,266,000. At that price, it is probably safe to say the owner might be angry if they don’t win it all again next year. But if he thinks that’s expensive–just wait until he has to figure out how to pay Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Kevin Durant appropriate deals in a couple years.