Ten NBA Players Who Resigned From Pay to Support Their Teams

Ten NBA Players Who Resigned From Pay to Support Their Teams

In order to give a team more depth, some of the most recognizable NBA players in history have had to accept wage reductions.

While it is rare and never anticipated, several NBA stars have declined more salaries in order to support a club that is trying to strengthen its depth. Much has been said about LeBron James’s early willingness to accept a salary reduction this summer in exchange for the right player, but that opportunity has long since passed since The King inked a $104 million, two-year contract. We’ve compiled a list of NBA players who, over their careers, accepted pay reductions and reexamined how those decisions turned out.

1. Dwyane Wade

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$15 million is the pay cut.

One of the main factors in the Miami Heat’s Big Three, or “Heatles,” development in 2010 was Dwyane Wade’s decision to accept a sizable pay reduction. Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh arranged their contracts to make financial space available for the three players to join forces in Miami. Wade demonstrated his dedication to creating a dynasty and winning championships by sacrificing $15 million in potential profits over the course of his deal.

Wade’s financial hardship made it possible for the Heat to sign Bosh and James, creating one of the most potent trios in NBA history. Wade’s wage reduction made it possible for the Heat to win back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013 and to make four straight trips to the NBA Finals between 2011 and 2014. Wade is ranked #1 because the Heat was his team and he gave up the most to let LeBron James take the lead.


2. LeBron James

LeBron James

$15 million is the pay cut.

In NBA history, LeBron James’ 2010 decision to forgo a $15 million salary increase was historic. James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh arranged their contracts in a way that made it possible for the Heat to sign all three players in the most unusual free agency configuration in history. LeBron’s financial sacrifice demonstrated his dedication to creating a Miami dynasty and winning titles.

LeBron’s wage reduction demonstrated his ability to see the wider picture and his readiness to put the success of the team ahead of his own financial gain. His choice allowed the Heat to put together a competitive team, which led to four straight trips to the NBA Finals and two titles. James’ choice created one of the most powerful dynasties in history, even if he has not suffered a pay loss as great as this one.

3. Chris Bosh

Chris Bosh

$15 million is the pay cut.

Chris Bosh made a number of concessions in the last game of the Big Three, including financial ones. Bosh’s readiness to take a lower salary played a crucial role in providing the Heat with the financial leeway they needed to sign all three superstars. In addition to accepting his position as the team’s third option, the All-Star forward saw a decline in his stats—he finished each game with 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds, which is less than his career average of 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds.

Bosh’s passion to win titles and his team-first approach were demonstrated by his wage reduction. His financial selflessness made it possible for the Heat to assemble a more competitive and well-rounded team, which resulted in four straight trips to the NBA Finals and two titles in 2012 and 2013. Bosh subsequently became a two-time NBA champion and was inducted into the Hall of Fame after joining the Heat, even though he could have established a history with the Toronto Raptors.

4. Dirk Nowitzki

Dirk Nowitzki

$15 million is the pay cut.

Dirk Nowitzki’s 2014 decision to forgo a sizable salary increase was an unmistakable indicator of his commitment to the Dallas Mavericks and his readiness to go above and beyond to maintain the team’s competitiveness. After serving as the team’s face for more than ten years, Nowitzki accepted a three-year, $25 million contract, which is far less than the highest pay he could have received. This $15 million cut demonstrated Nowitzki’s unwavering dedication to the team’s success and allowed the Mavericks to target elite free agents and enhance their squad.

In order to assemble a more formidable supporting group around him, the Mavericks were greatly assisted by Nowitzki’s wage reduction. It allowed the team to stay adaptable in the very competitive Western Conference and made it easier to acquire players like Chandler Parsons, who signed a three-year offer sheet worth over $45 million with a player option after Year 2. Nowitzki is the greatest player in franchise history because, despite his inability to play on a championship team after 2011, he tried his hardest to support the Mavericks in their rebuilding process.

5. James Harden

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$14 million is the pay cut.

James Harden made a big decision in 2022 that demonstrated his dedication to earning a championship: he decided to forgo $14 million in salary in order to assist the Philadelphia 76ers in signing important players. In order to make room for P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, Montrezl Harrell, and Danuel House Jr., the Sixers signed Harden to a new contract for a much lower salary, opting out of his $47.4 million player option. His commitment to put team success ahead of personal gain was evident in his sacrifice, which was made in an effort to assemble a more competitive and balanced lineup.

Harden made a calculated financial concession in order to improve the 76ers’ depth and all-around team effectiveness. He gave the front management the financial breathing room to bolster the group surrounding Joel Embiid and himself by accepting a pay cut. Even though the 76ers with Harden and Embiid only made it to the second round of the playoffs, it was still stunning to watch The Beard risk everything financially to pursue his first NBA championship.

6. Udonis Haslem

Udonis HAslem

$14 million is the pay cut.

In 2010, rather than earning $34 million, Udonis Haslem accepted a five-year, $20 million contract, a $14 million pay cut, which was evidence of his commitment to the Miami Heat. Being a seasoned leader and beloved by the fans, Haslem chose to stay with the Heat and support the team’s championship hopes by taking a pay cut. His monetary giving was crucial in free agency space creation so Miami could sign Chris Bosh and LeBron James.

Haslem’s pay reduction was a perfect example of his steadfast devotion to the Heat and his desire to play for a successful team. He made sure Miami could assemble a championship-caliber team by accepting less money, which helped the Heat win two titles and go to the NBA Finals four times in a row. Haslem is among the most adored players in Heat history for a reason.

7. Tim Duncan

Tim Duncan vs. LeBron James

$11 million in pay reduction

Tim Duncan’s legendary career with the San Antonio Spurs was marked by devotion to the team and a team-first mindset. Despite being available for a considerably higher deal, Duncan chose to take a three-year, $30 million contract in the summer of 2012, taking a significant pay drop. His choice to take a $11 million pay cut from his prior salary was crucial for the Spurs because it allowed them to keep a competitive roster around him.

San Antonio’s ability to sign big free agents and re-sign important players was greatly aided by this sacrifice, which ultimately resulted in their 2014 NBA Championship. Duncan’s willingness to continue competing at the top level and his selfless personality were demonstrated by his pay reduction. As they developed Kawhi Leonard, it allowed the Spurs to hold onto key players like Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

8. Shaquille O’Neal

Shaquille O'Neal

$10 million is the pay cut.

Making the choice to forgo a $10 million salary increase in 2006 was crucial for Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat to create a championship-caliber team. Shaq signed a five-year, $100 million contract after being transferred from the Los Angeles Lakers, which was far less than the maximum pay he was qualified for (three years, at least $90 million). The Heat won the NBA Championship in 2006 as a result of this decision, which also allowed them to sign important free agents and keep hold of key players.

Shaq showed that he was prepared to change and put the success of the team before his own financial gain by taking a salary cut. O’Neal gave the Heat the financial liberty they needed to assemble a potent supporting group around himself and Dwyane Wade by cutting his contract. Shaq’s fourth NBA championship was won by the Heat thanks in large part to this calculated financial sacrifice that allowed them to play at the top level.

9. Kevin Durant

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$10 million is the pay cut.

The Golden State Warriors’ ability to continue their domination in 2017 was greatly aided by Kevin Durant’s willingness to accept a $10 million salary reduction. Durant chose a two-year, $53 million contract after winning his first championship with the Warriors, which is substantially less than the highest pay he could have demanded ($10 million less than he was eligible for). Golden State was able to retain its core and competitive edge by signing important players like Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala again thanks to this financial sacrifice.

Durant’s salary reduction was evidence of his dedication to the Warriors’ success and his awareness of the team’s financial limitations. He made sure the Warriors could keep their depth and pursue championships by accepting less money. The Warriors’ subsequent championship run in 2018 was greatly aided by Durant’s selfless choice, cemented the team’s status as one of the best in NBA history.

10. Andrei Kirilenko

Andrei Kirilenko

$7 million is the pay cut.

2013 saw Andrei Kirilenko take a $7 million wage cut, which is a noteworthy example of a seasoned player putting team success ahead of personal gain. Despite holding a player option worth $10 million for the 2013–14 season, Kirilenko signed a two-year, $6 million contract with the Brooklyn Nets after being dismissed by the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nets were able to strengthen their roster and increase their level of competition in the Eastern Conference as a result of this financial sacrifice.

Kirilenko’s desire to adjust and contribute to a squad aiming for a championship was demonstrated by his pay decrease. He gave the Nets the freedom they needed to recruit more players and improve their depth by taking a lower contract. Throughout his time with the Nets, Kirilenko’s selflessness and team-first approach were crucial to the team’s attempts to assemble a more formidable and well-rounded roster.


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