May 14, 2019

The biggest earners left in the NBA and NHL playoffs

Kendall Baker, author of Sports

Thanks to an exploding NBA salary cap and a wild NHL postseason that saw many of the league's highest-paid players sent home early, the salary disparity between the two leagues has never been more glaring.

Expand chart
Data: NBA salaries from, NHL salaries from; Chart: Harry Stevens/Axios

By the numbers: Not a single player left in the Stanley Cup playoffs makes more than San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns' $10 million — a salary that would rank eighth-highest on the Milwaukee Bucks, alone.

  • Burns' salary would rank seventh-highest on the Portland Trail Blazers; sixth-highest on the State Warriors; fifth-highest on the Toronto Raptors; and just 23rd-highest amongst all remaining NBA players.
  • It's also nearly four times less than Steph Curry's salary ($37.5 million), and more than three times less than Kyle Lowry's ($31.2 million).

More fun facts:

  • San Jose's Logan Couture is the postseason's leading point-scorer (13 G, 6 A), and he's making $6 million this season. ... Portland's Meyers Leonard will make almost twice that much ($10.6 million), and he's played a total of 82 minutes in the playoffs.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes have the NHL's smallest payroll and their highest-paid player, Jordan Staal, makes just $6 million — $1 million less than what the Bucks are paying career journeyman Ersan Ilyasova ($7 million).

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