The Women’s National Basketball Association, better known as the WNBA, pays its players merit bonus money each season for winning awards, making the all-star game, and for making and advancing through the playoffs. Below I’m listing all the merit bonus money that WNBA players can earn each season under the current collective bargaining agreement.
I’ve broken down the merit bonus pay into two separate categories. Bonus money players can win individually, and bonus money that players win collectively playing on teams in the playoffs. The money listed for players on teams in the playoffs is paid to each player, with every player on the team getting the same amount as noted below.
Bonus Money WNBA Players Can Earn Each Season
Individual Bonus Money WNBA Players Can Earn Each Season
These are the money bonuses that WNBA players can win individually each season. The money listed is how much each player gets for winning an award, even in the case of a tie. So the money is not split in the case of tie, but each player gets the amount shown.
Players get paid for each award they win. One player can win multiple awards, and be paid multiple bonuses.
- Most Valuable Player or MVP Award Winner – $15,000
The largest merit bonus that any WNBA player can win each season is $15,000 for being the league MVP. Tina Charles of the Connecticut Sun was the league MVP in 2012, so she collected a $15,000 bonus for winning the award.
- Being Named to All WNBA First Team – $10,000
At the end of each WNBA season a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters votes five players onto the All WNBA First Team. Each player voted onto the All WNBA First Team gets a $10,000 bonus.
In 2012, Tina Charles, Candace Parker, Tamika Catchings, Cappie Pondexter, and Seimone Augustus were all voted onto the All WNBA First Team, and each player got a $10,000 bonus. This is the third highest bonus a player can earn in the WNBA each season.
- Being Named to All WNBA Second Team – $5,000
The sportswriters and broadcasters also vote players onto the All WNBA Second Team each season, and each of those players get a $5,000 bonus. In 2012, the players on the All WNBA Second Team who each got a $5,000 bonus were Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Kristi Toliver, Lindsay Whalen, and Sophia Young.
- Defensive Player of the Year Award Winner – $5,000
Tamika Catchings of the Indiana Fever got a $5,000 bonus in 2012 for being named the Defensive Player of the Year in the WNBA.
- Sportsmanship Award Winner – $5,000
The WNBA names a player each season as its Sportsmanship Award Winner, and that player gets a $5,000 bonus. In 2012, the winner was Kara Lawson of the Connecticut Sun.
- Rookie of the Year Award Winner – $5,000
The annual Rookie of the Year in the WNBA gets a $5,000 bonus. In 2012, Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks won the award and got the $5,000 bonus.
- Most Improved Player Award Winner – $5,000
In 2012, Kristi Toliver of the Sparks was named the Most Improved Player, and she got a $5,000 bonus.
- All-Star Game Participants – $2,500
Each player who participates in the WNBA All-Star Game gets a $2,500 bonus. The all-star game was not played in 2012 due to the Summer Olympics.
Bonus Money WNBA Players Earn by Being on Teams in the Playoffs
The following is a list of the money players in the WNBA earn by being on playoff teams. To earn the full bonus, a player must be on the regular season roster (active or inactive) on the last day of the regular season for a playoff team.
Players who played on playoff teams during the season, but are not on the regular season roster at the end of the season earn prorated bonuses based on the number of days the player was on the active or inactive list of the playoff team.
- WNBA Championship Team Members – $10,500
Each player on the WNBA Championship team earns a $10,500 bonus. So each player on the 2012 WNBA Champion Indiana Fever earned a $10,500 bonus last year.
The championship bonus is the second largest amount of money a player in the WNBA can earn each season from the merit bonuses.
- WNBA Championship Runner-up Team Members – $5,250
Each player on the team that makes it to the WNBA Finals but loses to the WNBA Champion gets $5,250. So each player on the Minnesota Lynx, the team that lost to Indiana in the WNBA Finals in 2012, got a $5,250 bonus.
- Playoff Teams Eliminated in the Semifinals – $2,625
Each player on the two teams that were eliminated in the semifinals in the playoffs gets $2,625. In 2012, the Connecticut Sun and the Los Angeles Sparks were both eliminated in the semifinals, so each player from those two teams got a $2,625 bonus.
- Playoff Teams Eliminated in the First Round or Quarterfinals – $1,050
Each player on the four teams eliminated in the first round of the playoffs, also called the quarterfinals, gets $1,050.
In 2012, the New York Liberty, Atlanta Dream, Seattle Storm, and San Antonio Silver Stars, all made the playoffs and were eliminated in the first round. So each player on those teams got a $1,050 merit bonus.