Credit: Luca Sgamellotti, Rodolfo Molina, Tolga Adanali - Getty Images | BasketNews illustration/E.Alšauskas
Credit Luca Sgamellotti, Rodolfo Molina, Tolga Adanali - Getty Images | BasketNews illustration/E.Alšauskas

The highest-paid EuroLeague player earns similar to an average NBA salary.

Jan Vesely

Jan  Vesely
Team: Fenerbahce Istanbul
Position: C
Age: 31
Height: 211 cm
Weight: 109 kg
Birth place: Ostrava, Czech Republic

The highest valued position remains in the frontcourt, but at least four guards made the Top 10 highest-paid players list.

Only three players outside Europe made this list. And don't expect to make the Top 10 until the age of 26. Three of the ten best-paid EuroLeague players wear CSKA Moscow jerseys.

That's what BasketNews' Top 10 highest-paid EuroLeague players list reveals.

Due to the complexity of essential factors, such as the confidentiality of the contract information, different taxation, and bonuses, a slight error of calculation exists. But BasketNews tried to be as accurate as possible, making a picture of the Top 10 highest-paid players in the EuroLeague.

Few players were left just below the Top 10 mark of €2M.

For example, Fenerbahce BEKO Istanbul guard Nando De Colo earns around €1.9M per season. Floor generals of Olympiacos Kostas Sloukas and Barcelona Nick Calathes make approximately €1.8M.

BasketNews introduce you to the top 10 highest-paid EuroLeague players.

10. Nicolo Melli ≈€2M

AX Armani Exchange sacrificed a lot to get Nicolo Melli back to Europe.

At first, they decided to let Zach LeDay go. Even Melli considered LeDay as one of the best AX Armani players of last season. However, Milan made big moves and gave Melli a solid three-year contract.

BasketNews sources say Melli will earn more than €2M per season, making him the best-paid Milan player.

"I'm here in Milan because this is an ambitious club," Melli said at the opening press conference in Milan. "Last season, they went just one shot shy of the EuroLeague final, and the club wants to remain at the highest level possible. So my decision to come here was absolutely a basketball decision."

Tornike Shengelia

Tornike  Shengelia
Tornike  Shengelia
MIN: 24.82
PTS: 12.73 (53.3%)
REB: 4.67
As: 2.47
ST: 0.93
BL: 0.27
TO: 2
GM: 15

"They showed me how much they wanted me, they even decided to let Zach LeDay go to have me, and Zach was probably the best player of last season, so that kind of commitment showed me that this was the right move for me," he added.

Melli quickly adapted to Ettore Messina's system and added a lot of skill for his offense. Milan hopes that it was one of the missing pieces for their championship puzzle.

9. Walter Tavares ≈€2.1M

Walter Tavares might not be the highest-paid player in the EuroLeague, but he arguably holds the highest NBA buyout in Europe.

According to BasketNews sources, Tavares' buyout is even more significant than the one Campazzo had (€6M). That might also be related to Tavares earning around €2.1M, sources say BasketNews.

In 2019 Tavares agreed to a five-year contract with Real Madrid, so the Spanish powerhouse locked him until 2024.

That's great news for Real fans. A 29-year-old hidden gem from Cabo Verde made the All-EuroLeague First Team last season, and there's no reason why he should stop being the most dominant EuroLeague center. 

7-8. Alexey Shved ≈€2.2M

Alexey Shved was set for at least three well-paid years in Khimki Moscow Region until the Russian club fell apart and was erased from the European basketball map. But the best Russian player quickly found a solution out of a complicated situation.

He switched from Moscow Region to capital and from the worst EuroLeague team to a title contender. He also will be paid solidly.

Per BasketNews sources, his compensation from a big Khimki sponsor and his new contract with CSKA will combine for around €2.2M per year.

His old contract with Khimki would have listed Alexey Shved in the Top 4, but it's still not too bad to remain in the Top 8 before turning 33 in December. Shved is the oldest player on this Top 10 list.

"I talked to my agent and said that one team I want to be in is CSKA," Shved said in an interview with BasketNews. "And I didn't want to talk to other teams. I know I had offers from other teams, but I told my agent I didn't want to go anywhere. I want to be here."

7-8. Mike James ≈€2.2M

BasketNews sources say that Mike James will earn close to €1M in AS Monaco. But it wouldn't be fair to rank him based only on his income from his newest EuroLeague team. 

You can't ignore the fact that James parted ways with CSKA Moscow receiving solid compensation. Per BasketNews sources, he should earn more than €2M this season by getting paychecks from Monaco and CSKA.

That helped Monaco bring Mike James on more team-friendly terms since his real market value was higher than just €1M. Although it still makes him the highest-paid player in France ever.

"Our president Mr. Sergiy Dyadechko and our shareholder Mr. Alekszej Fedoricsev were discussing between each other that we need to improve the roster," AS Monaco GM Oleksiy Yefimov said on the Urbonus podcast. "The market was really small on the guard position, and it was hard to find an experienced player."

"Suddenly I said: 'ok, last year it sounded like a joke when Mike was talking to Mindaugas, but let's try.' We reached out to his agent and started talking. We tried to present all the benefits and good points of potential coming to Monaco," Yefimov revealed.

Mike James is now the second-highest-paid US player in the EuroLeague.

6. Nikola Milutinov ≈€2.3-2.5M

Despite everyone talking about Nikola Milutinov potentially moving to San Antonio Spurs, he signed a three-year contract with CSKA Moscow in 2020. And he did that for a reason.

Per BasketNews sources, this year, Milutinov will earn around €2.3-2.5M, which makes him the highest-paid center in the EuroLeague. Also, Milutinov is the youngest player on this Top 10.

Last Milutinov's season in Moscow was cut by an unfortunate shoulder injury, leaving CSKA without their main center from January. It significantly impacted CSKA's chances to compete for the EuroLeague title.

This year Milutinov was ready to help his team from the start and lift it to another level. However, a legit All-EuroLeague Team candidate suffered another painful injury in the first minutes of the opening game.

At least it wasn't that bad as it looked, and the 26-year-old center won't need surgery. Medical examination revealed partial damage to the internal lateral ligament of the left knee, which means he will undergo conservative therapy, and his timing of the return will be adjusted according to test results.

5. Tornike Shengelia ≈€2.5M

That was one of the most complex decisions Tornike Shengelia ever made. Show us any other transfer, which forced the president of any country to call it "unacceptable".

And that's how the president of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili reacted to Shengelia's move to CSKA.

In 2020, CSKA paid a buyout of around €1M for his transfer from Vitoria to Moscow and signed Shengelia to a three-year contract.

"It is unfortunate for me and unacceptable for the President of Georgia that the captain of the Georgian national team is moving to CSKA," Zurabishvil wrote on Facebook.

According to BasketNews sources, Shengelia earns around €2.5M per season. 

"I don't intend to justify myself. I'm going to play basketball, and this won't change my relationship with Georgia. I hope it won't change the attitude of the Georgian people towards me either," Shengelia was quoted by Rustavi-2 TV channel.

4. Jan Vesely ≈€2.6-2.7M

Although he had to take a pay cut the last year when Fenerbahce started the rebuild with a reduced budget, Vesely remains the highest-paid Fenerbahce player. According to BasketNews sources, his salary is around €2.6-2.8M for the upcoming season.

Vesely is on an expiring contract since he's set to hit the free agency in summer 2022. But it's hard to imagine Fenerbahce without Flying Czech, who's been with the team since 2014 and stayed with the Fenerbahce family after the Zeljko Obradovic era. Many would agree that Vesely jerseys should go into the rafters of Ulker Sports arena.

"Honestly, it's not my goal, but that would be a crazy career accomplishment to have my jersey retired," Vesely told on the Urbonus podcast. "But I'm 31-year-old. There's still a lot in front of me. We'll see what's going to happen. I try to lead by example, try to go on the court to do my best and help my team the best I can."

3. Vasilije Micic ≈€3.1M

Vasilije Micic became the most expensive free agent in the summer of 2021. He received the most significant salary increase compared to the last contract. Now it's around two times higher than the previous one.

Anadolu Efes had to spend over €3M for the upcoming season to keep their best player. That's even without bonuses, which might increase the MVP's income by more than half of a million euros for the upcoming season (that would make him the second best-paid player in the EuroLeague). And that's only the first year of Micic's three-year guaranteed deal.

Anadolu Efes had to open their wallet because CSKA persuaded Micic to come to Moscow. CSKA gave him an unexpectedly early offer in June. Anadolu Efes matched it, and without having a clear path in Oklahoma City Thunder, Micic decided to remain in Europe.

"I wanted to give Efes the priority if they can match or offer me something similar. I was very happy Efes understood my desire to stay. In the end, they offered me the conditions I wanted," Micic told on the Urbonus podcast.

2. Shane Larkin ≈€3.2M

Anadolu Efes accommodates two of the three best-paid EuroLeague players. One of them is the highest-paid US player in the EuroLeague.

EuroHoops reports that Larkin signed a two-year contract with a pay raise for the second year, making him a €3.7M player.

BasketNews sources indicate that he shares a very similar salary with Vasilije Micic, and Micic could surpass him if he would reach his bonuses. But as of right now, Larkin has a slight advantage over his teammate.

Larkin had an NBA-out clause in his contract with Efes, but a solid contract with Efes convinced him not to chase NBA opportunities.

1. Nikola Mirotic ≈€5M

The highest-paid EuroLeague player wears Barcelona jersey. Nikola Mirotic keeps the most significant contract in Europe, around €5M net per season, sources say BasketNews.

Compared to the NBA, the highest-paid EuroLeague player gets something similar to the average NBA player's salary, which was $12.2M (before taxes) in season 2020-2021.

Two years ago, Mirotic had a lucrative offer from Utah. But despite having a three-year guaranteed deal prepared on the table in the Jazz front office, Mirotic canceled the flight at the last minute and left the NBA.

Mirotic quickly became one of the most efficient EuroLeague scorers. Last two years, he made the EuroLeague Top 3 by efficiency. However, the most significant contract in the tournament adds pressure to do more than that. And we're talking about the EuroLeague title.

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