Since the NBA suspended play on March 11 due to the coronavirus, players had been paid in full in March and April. That is about to change as the league and the NBA players association came to an agreement to temporarily reduce salaries by 25 percent.
NBA teams were notified in an April 17 memo that they would be withholding 25 percent of players’ salaries and that steps should be taken to preserve the funds as long as possible. There is still a chance the 2019-20 season could be cancelled. Even so, each franchise can choose to spend the money on whatever it wants if at all.
Most teams would likely not spend any of the withholding. Some teams may need to cover expenses incurred during the current COVID-19 crisis. If the NBA decides to pick up the regular season where it left off and finish, teams would be responsible for refunding the money to their players.
Depending upon how the league decides to play out the rest of the season, players could lose up 26 percent of their full season salary. The current collective bargaining agreement shows that players would lose approximately one percent of their salary per canceled game. The players union has told players that any decision on canceling games will likely not be made until June.
Five of the NBA’s highest-paid players – Stephen Curry, Paul George, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, and John Wall – will not see a reduction in salary. They have already been paid in full for the season. Their salary reductions will come out of their advances for the 2020-21 season on October 1 or with their November 15 paycheck.
Each player would owe their respective team 25 percent of their paycheck. For Curry, that amounts to $420,000. For James, it’s $390,000.Those amounts would increase if games are cancelled because of the coronavirus. If the NBA would decide to cancel the entire 2019-20 season, players stand to lose over $1 billion in total salary.