With the NBA hemorrhage money due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic forcing the league to enter into an indefinite suspension, teams have been forced to take different measures in the face of challenging economic times.
The biggest one comes in the form of temporary salary reductions for both players and staff across the league. Different teams have gone about this in their own ways, but the constant has been that players and executives won’t be seeing the same amount of money as usual.
For the players, the change began with checks issued on Friday. However, some of the league’s top players are not yet facing that reality.
According to Bobby Marks of ESPN, Los Angeles Lakers All-Star LeBron James is among five NBA superstars who aren’t seeing a reduction because their yearly contract has already been paid in full:
NBA teams will withhold more than $30 million from player paychecks on Friday, as players receive their first salary reduction since the league and union agreed to a plan to temporarily cut pay by 25%. But five of the NBA’s top 10 earners this season — LeBron James, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Blake Griffin and Paul George — have already been paid in full and will not see a pay decrease Friday.
However, even though these stars won’t see a reduction now, they will still see a reduction in the future once payments for the 2020-21 season begins:
Their salary reductions will come out of their advances for the 2020-21 season on Oct. 1 or beginning with their Nov. 15 paychecks. Each player will essentially have an IOU per paycheck to his team ranging from $390,000 (James) to $420,000 (Curry) each time there is a scheduled 25% pay reduction. That amount will increase if games are eventually canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Though there are standards for all NBA contracts, there is always language put inside that can determine things like this and for stars who earn the most money, it is completely plausible that they were able to negotiate something like this.
This global pandemic is unlike anything the NBA has ever dealt with and there simply aren’t things in place that can prepare the league or its teams for something like this. A superstar of LeBron’s caliber and notoriety will usually be fine, especially with the endorsement money he also receives, but that isn’t the case for most players.
Once things get back to normal all players will eventually receive all the money they’re owed in their contract, but until that happens, these reductions will continue.