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Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant are the two highest-earning players in the NBA. James will make an estimated $64.6 million this season between his $20.6 million salary and slew of endorsement deals. His endorsements include lucrative deals with Nike, Samsung and Beats by Dre.

By SI Wire
January 21, 2015

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant are the two highest-earning players in the NBA, according to Forbes.

James will make an estimated $64.6 million this season between his $20.6 million salary and slew of endorsement deals. His endorsements include lucrative deals with Nike, Samsung and Beats by Dre.

James signed a two-year deal, $42.1 million deal with the Cavaliers last year to return to Cleveland. He is expected to sign a new contract in 2016 when the league's salary cap increases.

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Forbes estimates Durant will make $54 million this season. He has a nearly $20 million salary with the Thunder and will make more than $30 million in endorsements. Nike and Under Armour had a bidding war for Durant during the summer before he ultimately re-upped with Nike for a deal reportedly worth $300 million over 10 years.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant ($49.5 million), Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose ($38.9 million) and New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony ($30.5 million) complete the top five. Bryant had been the highest-paid player for the previous nine seasons.

While Bryant dropped out of the top spot, the Lakers are once again the most-valuable franchise at $2.6 billion, beating the New York Knicks' $2.5 billion valuation. The Bulls are worth an estimated $2 billion. Eleven franchises are currently valued at $1 billion or more.

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The Los Angeles Clippers, which were sold for $2 billion last season, are valued at $1.6 billion. The Milwaukee Bucks are valued at $600 million after being sold for $550 million last year.

The average value of an NBA franchise is $1.1 billion, the highest in league history.

- Paul Palladino

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