Ranking the NBA players most likely to earn a supermax extension

A supermax contract in the NBA accounts for 35 percent of the salary cap. Only a select few players are eligible; here are the candidates to watch out for.
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 6

The new NBA collective bargaining agreement allows a certain group of NBA players to sign 'supermax' contracts worth 35 percent of a team's salary cap.

The rules are simple. From ESPN cap guru Bobby Marks:

  • "[A player must be] named to the All-NBA first, second, or third team, or was named Defensive Player of the Year, in the immediately preceding season or in two of the immediately preceding three seasons; or
  • The player was NBA MVP during one of the preceding three seasons."

Okay, maybe not that simple.

The player must also have seven years of NBA service under his belt. For example, Jayson Tatum is not currently eligible for a supermax because he has only played six NBA seasons. Next summer, however, Tatum will be eligible since he has met the above criteria.

Also of note, the new CBA will only allow players who have played 65 games in a regular season to win awards. So, health and rest could have a direct impact on a player's financial situation, which wasn't the case before.

Jaylen Brown was the first player to sign a supermax under the new CBA, re-upping with Boston for up to $303.7 million over five years. Marks details several logical candidates for a supermax extensions over the next two years.

Let's focus on the six most deserving possibilities.

Best NBA supermax candidates: 6. Brandon Ingram, Pelicans

Brandon Ingram has never been honored with All-NBA, but he's a good enough player to achieve that milestone if the Pelicans can stay healthy and mount a competitive season. Ingram doesn't normally get the credit he deserves, especially after New Orleans' disastrous 2022-23 campaign and a rocky Team USA stint, but he continues to stuff the stat sheet.

He averaged 24.7 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.8 assists on .484/.390/.882 splits last season. He's efficient at all three levels, weaponizing his length to shoot over defenders in the mid-range or to extend for finishes at the rim. He has become a very good 3-point shooter, he's an underrated creation hub for the Pelicans — especially when Zion's not available — and he can impact the game defensively for obvious reasons.

Ingram's flexible skill set and two-way impact are made to shine for a deep, multi-faceted team like the Pelicans. Zion's health struggles have cast a dark shadow over an otherwise promising group, but Ingram can adjust his approach depending on the personnel around him. He's comfortable on or off the ball, with a clutch shot-making gene that serves as the lifeblood of New Orleans' late-game offense.

As Marks notes for ESPN, the supermax — now worth upwards of $300 million over five years — occupies the same percentage of the cap space as the $20.6 million annually afforded to Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat. A lot of folks will balk at the idea of paying such a large sum of money to the former No. 2 pick, but Ingram has earned a pretty penny and a long-term commitment from the Pels.