Jose Colorado

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Chinese Basketball Association [CBA] Salaries: CBA Salary Cap, Average CBA Salary, Highest Paid Players [Updated 2022]

Chinese basketball association salaries [chart]


Salary Ranges:

$250,000 - $4.4 Million USD/year

Most Commonly Reported Salary:

$1 – $3 Million USD/yr

Lowest Reported Salary:

$250,000 USD/yr

MAX Salary (Foreigner):

$4.4 Million USD/yr

MAX Salary (Chinese):

$930,800 USD/yr

Chinese Players’ Team Salary Cap:

$2.5 Million – 6.8 Million USD/yr

Foreigner Players Team Salary Cap:

$5 Million USD/yr

Sources Referenced [Players, Media, Coaches]:


Source :, Professional Basketball Players Survey Data [2022]

CBA Player salary

Under the Chinese Basketball Association’s (CBA) salary system (2021/22), the maximum a Chinese-born basketball player (domestic) can earn is US$937,800/per year.

But teams are allowed four foreigners and they can earn much more.

Combined their salaries cannot exceed US$5 Million however.

Important note here:

Clubs are not required to spend that entire $5 Million budget.

They can distribute it however they want to.

That means a CBA club do any of the following:

  • Hire a single foreigner and pay him exceptionally well ($2 mill - $4 mill)

  • Hire two foreigners and split the money $2.5 mill/per player

  • Hire four foreigners and split it approx. $1 mill/per player


The point being:

The club has the freedom to spend the money however they want.

But it must stay within the CBA’s salary cap system.

How much do players make in the Chinese basketball association (CBA)

Overseas basketball players in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) enjoy some of the highest basketball salaries worldwide as the average foreigner salary sits at US$1 - $3 million/per year.

On the lower end, players would be looking at roughly $250 - $500k/per year.

These salaries would be reserved for first-time import rookies in the CBA.

Interestingly enough:

While the average salary is quite high at $1 - $3 Million/per year, the highest MAX salary ever reported isn’t that much more.

That’s largely due to the salary cap that’s in place.

who is the highest paid player in the cba?

While former NBA stars such as Stephon Marbury and Tracy McGrady have all played in the Chinese Basketball Association, it is actually NBA journeyman Kenneth Faried who earned the biggest pay day in CBA history.

In 2019, he inked a $4.4 million USD deal with the Zhejiang Lions (he was released after 7 games).

Outside of Faried, multiple ex-NBAers have made a comfortable living in the CBA.





CBA Team (Year)

1. Kenneth Faried

$4.4 million/yr

Zhenjiang (2019)

2. Lance Stephenson

$4 million/yr

Liaoning (2019)

3. Jeremy Lin


Beijing (2019)

4. Andray Blatche

$2.5 million/yr

Xinjiang (2017)

5. Ty Lawson

$2 million/yr

Fujian (2019)

6. Stephon Marbury

$2 million/yr

Beijing (2017)

7. Jordan Crawford

$2 million/yr

Xinjiang (2014)

8. Jimmer Fredette

$1.6 million/yr

Shanghai (2020)

9. Emmanuel Mudiay

$1.2 million/yr

Guangdong (2014)

10. Tracy McGrady

$1 million/yr

Qingdao (2012)

11. Metta World Peace


Sichuan (2014)

12. John Spencer


Jiangsu (1996)

Chart :, Professional Basketball Players Survey Data [2021]

Look at that chart again.

That’s 8 different CBA teams shelling out million dollar contracts!

So unlike in the vast majority of overseas leagues, where the money seems to be concentrated amongst a select few clubs, the CBA appears to have - at the very least - a handful of teams being able to break the million dollar barrier in player salaries.

Chinese Basketball Association salaries are the highest in overseas basketball.

Chinese Basketball Salaries (CBA) are the highest when it comes to overseas basketball salaries.

Is the Chinese basketball association the highest PAID overseas basketball league?

In the end, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) is the highest-paying overseas basketball league with its million-dollar salaries and shorter 6-month season compared to Europe’s (8 - 10 mths).

It’s no surprise then that so many former NBA players want to play in the league when their time in the NBA is up.

In terms of money, it is the closest thing to the NBA.

But the CBA wasn’t always like this.

In fact:

Much of that change came in the early 2010s due to the decision of a single player: Stephon Marbury.

Stephon marbury in china

Stephon Marbury made Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) salaries increase dramatically.

While the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has existed since 1995, the league’s international popularity and massive revenue streams didn’t truly explode until Stephon Marbury made his debut in 2010.

That’s when he signed with the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons, never looking back on route to:

  • 3 CBA Championships (Beijing Ducks)

  • Statue in his honor

  • Personal museum in his honor

  • Broadway musical on his life

  • A movie based on his life

Stephon Marbury’s success in the Chinese Basketball Association had a significant impact on the league’s popularity and basketball salaries.

On his own Starbury was box office - reportedly commanding a $2 million USD salary in his final year with the Beijing Ducks (although he declined it and played elsewhere).

But more importantly:

Once his success and surreal fandom caught wind in the States, many ex-NBAers began looking at the league as a much more viable option since they could:

  1. Continue playing

  2. Earn a decent living

  3. Play a shorter 6-month season and then be back home to potentially sign for the NBA playoffs







In fact:

A 2017 ESPN report from Thomas Neumann reported “the average salary of foreigners is reportedly climbing upward of $500,000, and $1 million deals are now common.”

Fast forward a few years later:

And Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated reports a CBA agent “estimates the league’s imports earn an average of $1 million per season, with some salaries climbing close to $3 million.”

Average import cba salary (2017 - Present)

This is an estimation based on CBA salary numbers released throughout the years. Numbers are not considered exact.

Along those same lines:

According to a report by The Standard, China Central Television data showed viewership and revenue in the already basketball-crazed country significantly increased in the 2020 season.

Chinese Basketball fans are among some of the most loyal and devoted, increasing revenue and Chinese Basketball Association player salaries.

So considering all this:

The million-dollar CBA salaries we see today seem much more reasonable and realistic.

But this explosion in popularity is not without its complications on clubs, payrolls and budgets.

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) Salary Cap


Chinese Basketball Association Salary Cap System

Domestic players salary cap

US$2.5 – US $6.87 Million/per year

Recommended domestic players salary cap (benchmark)

US$3.75 Million/per year

Domestic player MAX salary

US$937,800/per year

Foreigner players salary cap (4 total)

US$5 Million/per year

Luxury tax penalties (going over or under cap)


Reported by: Xinhua (Chinese State News Agency)

With the Chinese Basketball Association’s (CBA) new salary cap agreement (2021/22), CBA clubs are able to spend between US$2.5 Million - $6.87 Million USD) on Chinese players and no more than US$5 Mill on foreign-born players (4 per team).

Players are then given a classification based on their pay grade from A - E (D being the MAX salary).

This is all a relatively new concept in China.

The 2020 - 2021 CBA season marked the first time the league operated under a salary cap restriction.

Per The Standard, CBA personnel are saying the move was made in an apparent attempt to get “reasonable control of the [team] spending.”

The hope - it seems - is that player salaries will slow a bit moving forward.

And that’s important for the CBA’s sustainability.

Many teams are reportedly operating at a financial deficit by trying to simply remain competitive (i.e. overpaying players).

So the CBA may be the highest-paying league in overseas basketball at the moment, and with the biggest contracts, but it might be due to slow down in the near future.

Interestingly enough:

While foreigner (American) salaries are relatively easy to come by online, Chinese national players are a bit more difficult to discover.

highest paid chinese players in the Chinese basketball association

With the new CBA' salary structure in place for 2022, Chinese players can make just short of US$1 Million/per season.

It is likely Guo Ailun, Ding Yanyuhang and Yi Jianlian - among others - earn these MAX dollars for domestic Chinese players.

Yi Jianlian has one of the highest Chinese Basketball Association salaries.


Ailun is the first Chinese athlete signed by Jordan Brand ($1.4 million/yr deal).

Meanwhile Jianlian is likely the highest-profile Chinese player ever besides Yao Ming.

It only seems probable they would warrant such big bucks.

highest paid chinese players in the chinese basketball association (2015)



Salary (USD)


1. Yi Jianlian

$1.6 million/yr


2. Sun Yue

$1.12 million/yr


3. Zhou Qi



4. Liu Wei



5. Zhu Fangyu



6. Tang Zhengdong



7. Wang Shipeng



8. Li Gen



9. Han Dejun



10. Zhang Qingpeng



Chart :, Professional Basketball Players Survey Data [2021]

In terms of the highest-paid Chinese players ever, a 2015 report coming out of China did a nice job of compiling some of the highest CBA basketball wages with Yi Jianlian ($1.6 mill/yr) making the most.

That being said:

Salaries have obviously increased and changed slightly since then.

But it is interesting taking a look back at what was as the CBA exploded.

Chinese Basketball Association minimum salary

And although not confirmed, the lowest-paying Chinese Basketball Association team would likely have been the Bayi Rockets - a club that was actually founded and bound with the Chinese army.

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Despite its long-standing historical roots in Chinese sport and the CBA (8 championships), the Rockets actually pulled out of the CBA just prior to the 2020 - 2021 season following a string of woeful seasons.

The Global Times reports the Rockets’ demise stems from:

“CBA becoming increasingly commercialized, the tight-budgeted Bayi Rockets began to lose its appeal to Chinese elite players, as other clubs were able to offer much higher salaries, and being affiliated to the army, it was unable to recruit foreign players.”


So there you have it.

Outside of the NBA, a professional basketball player would be hard-pressed to find a better situation than the Chinese Basketball Association.


  • Multiple teams with million dollar pockets

  • A shortened 6-month season

  • A crazy and loyal fanbase that only seems to be gaining in numbers

….the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) salary may just be the most No.1 objective in overseas basketball today.

Have you ever watched the Chinese Basketball Association?
What do you think of their pay grade based on the quality of pay?
Let me know in the comments below!

Jose Colorado, professional basketball player, talks overseas basketball scams.

Jose Colorado is a 6-year professional basketball player helping others achieve their dreams of pro basketball with a proven and tested approach to overseas basketball.