Kobe Bryant Tops the 5 Highest-Paid NBA Players

Highest-paid NBA players - Kobe Bryant

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The NBA regular season will kick off Tuesday with three games: the Orlando Magic are matching up against the New Orleans Pelicans; the Dallas Mavericks are facing off against the San Antonio Spurs; and the Houston Rockets will be in Los Angeles to play the Lakers.

The athletes of the NBA have spent the last weeks hard at work to get back in top form. The results will play out on the court, but the value of their talent has already been monetized.

NBA player salaries have remained fairly consistent in recent years due to the salary caps and payment structures outlined by the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement. But thanks to a lucrative new broadcasting deal the NBA brokered, salaries will likely rise.

NBA Broadcasting Deal Will Increase Player Salaries by $870M in 2016

The NBA announced a new deal in early October that will bring in $2.67 billion a year from broadcasting rights starting in the 2016-2017 season, nearly triple the current rate of $930 million a year, reports SBNation. The deal will last through 2025, giving the NBA a long stretch of dramatically increased earnings.

The most notable effect of this increase in broadcasting revenue will be a jump in player salaries; under the CBA, half of the NBA’s income goes toward paying players.

This extra money will definitely heat up competition for the most talented players, and could push team salary caps as high s $94 million — $31 million more than the 2014-2015 salary cap of $63 million, according to SBNation.

Plus the NBA and its players will have the option to terminate the CBA at the end of the 2016-2017 season. With this new money on the table, the athletes of the NBA might see a reason to negotiate an agreement with better terms for them.

Related: These 13 Athletes Won the Most Lucrative Endorsement Deals

Kobe Bryant Is the Highest-Paid NBA Player This Season

While NBA players will likely look forward to those bigger payouts come 2016, there is still plenty of cash to go around for now. Together, NBA players will be paid a combined $2.33 billion this season. Here’s a look at the five highest-paid NBA players, according to ESPN.

1. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers: $23.5 million

The Black Mamba has long reigned as the highest-paid NBA player and, despite several injuries, has remained a central member of the Lakers team and an icon of the franchise. Though his value might be lower as his on-court performance has slowed in recent years, the Lakers still consider Kobe Bryant to be worth $23.5 million this season.

2. Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks: $23.4 million

Amar’e Stoudemire is on the last year of a $100 million contract with the Knicks, according to Forbes. While this NBA player started strong with the Knicks, putting up 25 points per game on average during his first season with the team, his performance has since slipped a bit due to injuries and age. Stoudemire is enjoying his huge paychecks according to his Instragram feed, which includes a picture of him taking a bath in red wine.

3. Joe Johnson of the Brooklyn Nets: $23.2 Million

Joe Johnson is on his fifth year of a $120 million, six-year contract that was originally made with the Atlanta Hawks and then bought out by the Nets. Over a 15-year career Johnson has maintained a 17.5 points per game average, and off the court he has an endorsement deal with Nike, reports Forbes.

4. Carmelo Anthony of the New York Knicks: $22.5 million

Carmelo Anthony just signed a five-year contract worth $124 million with the Knicks this summer, a near-max payout in the NBA. Endorsements with the likes of Nike, Foot Locker and Mission also brought in $8 million for Anthony in the last year, reports Forbes.

5. Dwight Howard of the Houston Rockets: $21.4 million

Dwight Howard actually took less money to sign on with the Rockets in 2013, leaving the Los Angeles Lakers behind. But the lower paycheck also means Howard got out from Bryant’s shadow, and will be paying less taxes on his earnings in Texas than in California. Howard also said he saw more opportunity to win a championship with the Rockets.

Photo credit: Cliff