How much are max contracts worth?

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In the coming weeks, you’ll surely hear a lot about max contracts.

But how much are they actually worth?

It depends and can vary a great deal.

That’s an unsatisfying answer, but if you’re looking for clarity on the term, it’s necessary to understand.

To start, maximum salaries are based on the salary cap and experience. Experience levels are split into three groups: 0-6 years, 7-9 years and 10+ years. The more experienced the group, the greater percentage of the salary cap that forms a max contract.

However, a free agent can always get 105% of his previous salary – even if that’s more than his experience calls for. This year, four potential free agents – including those who’ve already stated their intention to opt in – are or would have been eligible for a higher max than prescribed by their experience level.

Only the first year of a new contract follows that rule. After that, players who re-sign can get 7.5% raises and players who leave can get 4.5% raises. Players who re-sign can also get five-year contracts, and players who leave can get just four years.

Larry Coon’s FAQ have more information on max contracts if you’re interested.

Based on the projected salary cap of $63.2 million, here’s what max contracts would be based on experience and the four exceptions:

0-6 years

Year Re-sign Leave
One $14,756,881 $14,756,881
Two $15,863,647 $15,420,940
Three $16,970,413 $16,085,000
Four $18,077,179 $16,749,060
Five $19,183,945
Total $84,852,064 $63,011,880

7-9 years

Year Re-sign Leave
One $17,708,257 $17,708,257
Two $19,036,376 $18,505,128
Three $20,364,495 $19,302,000
Four $21,692,615 $20,098,871
Five $23,020,734
Total $101,822,477 $75,614,256

10+ years

Year Re-sign Leave
One $20,659,633 $20,659,633
Two $22,209,105 $21,589,316
Three $23,758,578 $22,519,000
Four $25,308,050 $23,448,683
Five $26,857,523
Total $118,792,889 $88,216,633

Dirk Nowitzki (probably won’t get the max)

Year Re-sign Leave
One $23,857,450 $23,857,450
Two $25,646,759 $24,931,035
Three $27,436,068 $26,004,621
Four $29,225,376 $27,078,206
Five $31,014,685
Total $137,180,338 $101,871,312

Amar’e Stoudemire (declining his early-termination option)

Year Re-sign Leave
One $22,763,888 $22,763,888
Two $24,471,179 $23,788,263
Three $26,178,471 $24,812,638
Four $27,885,762 $25,837,012
Five $29,593,054
Total $130,892,354 $97,201,800

Carmelo Anthony (already committed to opting out)

Year Re-sign Leave
One $22,458,402 $22,458,402
Two $24,142,782 $23,469,030
Three $25,827,162 $24,479,658
Four $27,511,542 $25,490,286
Five $29,195,922
Total $129,135,810 $95,897,375

Rudy Gay (opting in)

Year Re-sign Leave
One $18,783,379 $18,783,379
Two $20,192,132 $19,628,631
Three $21,600,885 $20,473,883
Four $23,009,639 $21,319,135
Five $24,418,392
Total $108,004,427 $80,205,027

The NBA will announce its official salary cap in July, and I’ll update these figures then.

In the meantime, if you’re projecting which teams have room to sign Melo, LeBron James or any other high-level player, these are good baselines for knowing how much cap room is necessary.