Stephen Curry, LeBron James will have to pay NBA back as league begins reductions

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The NBA will begin withholding salary from player paychecks on Friday as part of the agreed upon pay checks between the NBA and the NBA Players Association. Players will experienced a 25 percent pay cut in compliance with the collective bargaining agreement’s “force majeure” clause.

The cuts apply to every player, but six of the game’s 10 highest earners have already been paid and will not see cuts immediately due to the COVID-19 crisis.

LeBron, Curry miss early pay cuts

LeBron James, Stephen Curry, John Wall, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant and Paul George have all already been paid in full, per ESPN.

They will therefore not see a pay cut, but will have to pay back that reduction when they get their advances for the 2020-21 season, per the report. That will be on Oct. 1. They could also pay it back with a reduction on their Nov. 15 paychecks that start the scheduled season.

Curry makes approximately $40.2 million per season, most in the league, and will have to pay back $420,000 per paycheck each time there is a scheduled 25 percent reduction. James, who makes approximately $37.4 million per year, will have a pay-back of $370,000 per paycheck. He ranks seventh in player salaries.

Stephen Curry and LeBron James will have to pay back their team if games are canceled due to the pandemic. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Stephen Curry and LeBron James will have to pay back their team if games are canceled due to the pandemic. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Pay cuts could rise with cancellations

The two sides agreed to a 25 percent pay cut after negotiations. The Athletic reported the NBA wanted players to take a 50 percent pay cut.

If the remainder of the regular season is canceled and teams jump into the playoffs, ESPN reported players will likely have a 40 percent pay reduction.

If the entire season is canceled players could lose a total of $1 billion in combined salary.

Paychecks for 100 of the 434 players experienced drops of at least $100,000. In early April, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum voiced concerne for some players he said were living paycheck-to-paycheck.

What happens to the money?

Teams are free to spend the money how they want, per ESPN, but those contacted by the site had no immediate plans to spend it.

They can use it if cash flow is low, but they’ll have to pay it back to players if the league picks up in the schedule where it left it on March 11. It could be June 15 before there is any clarity on the season.

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