Now that the current NBA season is coming to an end, front offices are looking towards the NBA Draft and free agency in order to adjust their cap space. While some teams have flexibility to make certain moves, others are paying the top players in the league for years to come. Here are the top NBA cap hits heading into the 2018-19 season:
Point Guard: Stephen Curry
2018-19 Cap Hit: $37.4 million
Although Stephen Curry has been hindered with injuries this season, he has still been one of the most revolutionizing stars in NBA history. With his range behind the arc, Curry has actually averaged over four three-point shots per game. In result, the Golden State Warriors handed their point guard the first $200+ million deal in NBA history.
Not only is Curry reliable from deep, but his free throw percentages are among the elite in the league. In fact, the point guard has lead the league in free throw percentage on four occasions, including this season. While injuries aren’t common for Curry, hopefully he can provide service for Golden State for years to come.
Shooting Guard: Gordon Hayward
2018-19 Cap Hit: $31.2 million
After just five minutes played in the 2017-18 season, Boston Celtics shooting guard Gordon Hayward will surely be a story to watch out for next season. The front office snagged the 28-year old on a four-year, $127.8 million deal, as he was previously the face of the Utah Jazz.
There were previously rumors about Hayward returning before the end of the season, but at this point, those aforementioned rumors have been put to rest. While the shooting guard is set to make over $31 million this upcoming season, that number will actually increase as time goes on. In the 2019-2020 season, it will tally up to $32.7, and the year after that will result in $34.1 million (2020-2021 is a player option).
Small Forward: LeBron James
2018-19 Cap Hit: $35.6 million
With a player option looming in the upcoming offseason, the “King” has the right to claim his $35.6 million for the 2018-19 season. After a season such as his, I would fully expect for LeBron James to test free agency and aim to becoming the highest-paid player in NBA history.
While James is getting into the twilight stages of his career, the film and numbers haven’t shown any regression. Over the course of the last two seasons, James has lead the league in minutes played on both occasions. With the Philadelphia 76ers, Houston Rockets, and Los Angeles Lakers playing as potential free agent suitors, James’ cap hit could very well near $40 million.
Power Forward: Blake Griffin
2018-19 Cap Hit: $32 million
After being dealt from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Detroit Pistons, power forward Blake Griffin has made the most of his new opportunity. He once again finished with 20+ points per game, as well as maintain a career-high in his free throw percentage with 78.5%.
The guards seem to be taking the role as the flashiest NBA players nowadays, but Griffin could be a vital piece to any championship roster. The 2017-18 season will mark the second time in his career that Griffin has not reached the postseason (the previous was his rookie campaign in 2010). Technically under contact through the 2020-21 season, the future of Detroit is in Griffin’s hands.
Center: Al Horford
2018-19 Cap Hit: $28.9 million
After signing with the Boston Celtics on a four-year, $113 million deal, Al Horford has been one of the best all-around centers in basketball. Shooting nearly 50% from the field, the aspect that is most surprising includes his three-point percentage, which sat at a career-high 42.9% this past season.
While his 2019-2020 cap hit is over $30 million, it is also included as a player option year. With that being said, as the Boston Celtics continue to be one of the most dominant teams in the Eastern conference, it seems unlikely that Horford has plans of moving his talents elsewhere.