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The Highest-Paid NBA General Managers

David Griffin
Jun 21, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) poses with his jersey along with owner Gayle Benson and Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations David Griffin and head coach Alivin Gentry during a press conference at the New Orleans Pelicans Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA’s global prominence makes it valued at $50 billion, with about one billion regular viewers worldwide.

Players and coaches have been earning higher and higher salaries as the league has grown, but top general managers have also seen major increases to their compensation in recent years.

Highly-valued GMs can rake in salaries that rival some NBA players.

R.C. Buford is the highest-paid NBA GM of 2024. 

The Spurs GM earns $10 million per year managing roster moves and contract negotiations. Buford has helped oversee one of the most successful franchises of the modern NBA era. San Antonio has won five championships during his tenure since 2002. 

He’s recently shifted to a new role with the Spurs while they continue to rebuild their team to its previous levels.

Second on the list is David Griffin at $6.5 million per year. He leads the front office of the Pelicans and has been in his role since 2019.

Griffin previously spent nine years in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers made three straight finals appearances and won the 2016 NBA title under his leadership.

Tied for third are two Western Conference GMs: Nico Harrison of the Mavericks and Rob Pelinka of the Lakers. Both earn $5 million a year in their roles.

Harrison is a former Nike executive hired in 2021 to be the team’s general manager. He’s built strong relationships with players around the league including Luka Doncic.

Pelinka has been the GM of Los Angeles since 2017. He’s presided over the signings of LeBron James and Anthony Davis and their 2020 NBA title.

Fifth is Sam Presti of the Thunder who makes $4.5 million annually.

Presti served as the assistant GM of the Spurs for seven years before his promotion in 2007 to Oklahoma City.

He is faced with the challenges presented to small-market teams. The Thunder have the third-lowest total cap allocation budget of any team in the top 10.

Ranking The Highest-Paid General Managers in the NBA

Below is the entire list of the highest-paid NBA GMs, and includes their respective team’s total cap allocations. The list was compiled with data from MoneyInc and the Desired Desk.

  • Updated: June 6, 2024
RankNameTeamTotal Cap AllocationsCompensation
1R.C. BufordSan Antonio Spurs$155 million$10 million
2David GriffinNew Orleans Pelicans$199 million$5.8 million
T-3Nico HarrisonDallas Mavericks$192 million$5 million
T-3Rob PelinkaLos Angeles Lakers$212 million$5 million
5Sam PrestiOklahoma City Thunder$163 million$4.5 million
6Elton BrandPhiladelphia 76ers$245 million$4 million
7Masai UjiriToronto Raptors$176 million$3.5 million
T-8Danny AingeUtah Jazz$151 million$3 million
T-8Mike Dunleavy Jr.Golden State Warriors$249 million$3 million
T-10Arturas KarnisovasChicago Bulls$221 million$2.5 million
T-10Trent ReddenNew York Knicks$206 million$2.5 million
T-12Tim ConnellyDenver Nuggets$210 million$2 million
T-12Koby AltmanCleveland Cavaliers$192 million$2 million
14Zach KleimanMemphis Grizzlies$186 million$1.8 million
15James JonesPhoenix Suns$244 million$1.7 million
16Jeff WeltmanOrlando Magic$180 million$1.5 million
17Mitch KupchakCharlotte Hornets$146 million$1.4 million
18Tommy ShepardWashington Wizards$213 million$1.3 million

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