NBA: The 10 superstars that could lose the most money if 2019-20 season is canceled
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The 10 superstars that could lose the most money if the 2019-20 NBA season is canceled

NBA players could soon be forced to “refund” part of their salaries if the league decides to cancel the remainder of the 2019-20 season in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Players could be forced to forgo a portion of their salary under the Force Majeure clause. A potential 25% of player salaries would be reduced under these circumstances, according to the National Basketball Players Association (via SNY).

As it is, the league can already withhold 1.08% of players’ salaries for each canceled game due to the Force Majeure clause (a provision that allows the NBA to stay afloat in case of unforeseen circumstances), but some of these stars could lose a great deal of their salaries if this crisis greatly affects the owners in The Association.

Editor’s note: These rankings are under the premise that most players have received only 10 of their 24 checks for the 2019-20 season by April 1, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times. The majority of players (more than 400) are paid bi-monthly through 12 months. Nine of Rich Paul’s clients with Klutch Sports receive an accelerated payment method that doles out an all-you-can-get deal — roughly 90% of their salary upfront by April 1.

Refunds are based on how much players have earned in 2019-20 by April 1.

1. John Wall

2019-20 salary: $38,199,000

Refund total: $8,594,775

John Wall, Wizards, NBA

Wall is earning a beefy $38.2 million in the first year of his four-year supermax extension with the Washington Wizards. While that’s not the most, he is one of Rich Paul’s top clients with Klutch Sports and one who has opted for the 90% advance, according to Marc Stein of The New York Times.

He’s cashing those checks even as he sits through the whole 2019-20 NBA season recovering from a major injury. If the season is canceled, he could be forced to give back a large chunk of what he has already received as a supermax player.

According to the NBPA (per Jabari Young of CNBC), players under contracts that run past this season could be asked to pay this back over the life of their deals.

2. LeBron James

2019-20 salary: $37,436,858

Refund total: $8,423,293

LeBron James, Lakers, NBA

The MVP candidate is Rich Paul’s main client and the one that allowed him to build his agency empire. Upon receiving that 90% upfront, James will have a hefty amount to give back to the Los Angeles Lakers ownership at nearly $8.5 million in refunds.

While others will have to pay even more back, that will be either trickled down over the rest of the remaining payments this season or stretched over the life of their deals. Luckily James makes oodles of money off the court, which should help cover up for that slice.

3. Kevin Durant

2019-20 salary: $38,199,000

Refund total: $8,369,775

Kevin Durant, Nets

Durant falls under that elite group that received an all-you-can-get deal through his manager and agent Rich Kleiman. Durant could see $1 million in incentives shaved off the top, considering that the following conditions could be in peril if the 2019-20 NBA season is canceled.

According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks, KD would receive that extra million if:

  • The Nets make the playoffs.
  • The Nets win at least 43 games.
  • Durant appears in at least 50 games.
  • Durant makes the All-Star team.

Considering there would be no playoffs, the Nets have won only 30 games thus far, and Durant has yet to play a single game in the 2019-20 season — he could lose this potential bonus if ownership deems he missed these triggers.

4. Blake Griffin

2019-20 salary: $34,449,964

Refund total: $7,702,867

Pistons, Blake Griffin

Griffin has battled injuries throughout this 2019-20 NBA season, but he’s still enjoying the benefits of a five-year, $173 million deal from the Los Angeles Clippers.

As a result of that and his 90% advance, which he obtained through agents Jeff Schwartz and Sam Goldfeder, Griffin stands to pay back a hefty $7.7 million of the roughly $31 million he has already received through April 1.

5. Kyrie Irving

2019-20 salary: $31,742,000

Refund total: $7,141,950

Kyrie Irving

Irving has only played 11 games this NBA season, but he has already collected a hefty $28.5 million of his $31,742,000 contract. It’s worth noting Irving has $1 million in unlikely incentives, which are not counted toward the final figure.

Uncle Drew has completed two of those eight (make 2.8 triples per game and shoot above 88.5% from the foul line) for a total of $250,000, as most are tied to playing at least 60 games this season, per ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Bobby Marks.

6. Otto Porter Jr.

2019-20 salary: $27,250,575

Refund total: $6,131,250

Otto Porter Jr., Bulls

The Chicago Bulls forward is the only one on this list who doesn’t fit the star or franchise player tag, but thanks to his agents, David Falk and Danielle Cantor, he’s one of the select few who makes 90% of his contract by April 1.

Porter hasn’t had much of a regular season, appearing in only 14 games in 2018-19. He will have to give back upward of $6.1 million if the NBA decides to shut it down in the coming months.

7. Stephen Curry

2019-20 salary: $40,231,758

Refund total: $4,190,808

Stephen Curry, Warriors

The highest-paid player this season, hovering above $40 million in 2018-19. Curry once had the richest overall contract in the NBA but was soon overtaken.

His refund total is roughly 10% of his actual contract, thanks to adhering to the regular 24 payments throughout the year, as most NBA players do in their contracts.

8. Chris Paul

2019-20 salary: $38,506,482

Refund total: $4,011,091

Chris Paul

The second-highest-paid player in the NBA, tied with the very man he was traded for. Paul, also the president of the NBPA, would have to give back over $4 million if the league called it wraps today.

Paul hit the mother lode when the Houston Rockets stayed true to their promise of paying him a four-year, $160 million max contract in 2018, but they soon changed their mind — trading him to the Oklahoma City Thunder this past summer.

9. Russell Westbrook

2019-20 salary: $38,506,482

Refund total: $4,011,091

Russell Westbrook, Rockets, Jazz

Westbrook is making just as much as Paul and has just as much to lose if that 25% premise kicks in. While the percentage could be more or less, depending on what the NBPA can negotiate with the 30 NBA owners, Westbrook and his superstar counterparts could wind up losing a big chunk of their pay.

He’s in Year 2 of a ginormous five-year, $206.8 million contract, so giving back those $4.4 million shouldn’t be much unless the losses extend to affect the start of next season.

10. James Harden

2019-20 salary: $38,199,000

Refund total: $3,979,063

James Harden, Rockets, NBA

The Beard makes as much as John Wall and Kevin Durant this season but won’t need to give up as much thanks to a standard payment structure.

Harden is among the five best-paid players in the NBA and with good reason after being an MVP candidate in each of the last five seasons before snagging the award in 2018.

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NBA contract data and bonus provisions provided by Spotrac.