Luka Dončić (left) and Jimmy Butler secured serious bags this summer. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
TRADING CARDS & COLLECTIBLES

Checking the Trading Card Markets for the NBA’s Biggest Offseason Signings

The biggest contract extensions and free agency deals of the summer have been signed. Let’s look at what that means for the NBA trading card market.

Less than 24 hours after the NBA’s 2021 offseason signing period officially began on the evening of Aug. 2, teams had already committed approximately $1.5 billion to players either via free agent deals or contract extensions.

Leading the way? Steph Curry, who became the first NBA player on a designated veteran player extension (“supermax”) contract to sign a subsequent extension. His four-year, $215 million deal with the Golden State Warriors is the offseason’s biggest contract by total value, and at $53.75 million per year, it’s also the fattest by average annual value.

But some serious heavyweights weren’t too far behind him. And with so much money thrown around so quickly, it’s time to take a moment to check in on the trading card markets for the biggest offseason signings around the NBA to determine where the momentum in the hobby is leaning.

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1. Stephen Curry: 4 years, $215 million
Total value of daily Steph Curry trading card auction sales, 5/14/21 – 8/12/21 (via Card Ladder)

90-day high: $598,580 (May 20)
30-day high: $140,930 (Aug. 9)
14-day high: $140,930 (Aug. 9)

Over the last 90 days, Steph Curry’s card market peaked all the way back on May 20, one day after his Warriors were eliminated by LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers in the finale of the Western Conference’s first-ever Play-in Tournament for a spot in the NBA Playoffs. According to Card Ladder, total auction sales of Curry cards nearly reached $600,000 that day.

(Not to be outdone, trading card investment platform Alt purchased a majority stake in a Steph rookie card worth $5.9 million in a private sale in early July, the highest price ever paid for a trading card to date.)

Since free agency began, however, Steph’s card auction market hasn’t had a day that reached even a quarter of the way to the $598,580 mark achieved in May.

2. Trae Young: 5 years, $207 million
Total value of daily Trae Young trading card auction sales, 5/14/21 – 8/12/21 (via Card Ladder)

90-day high: $586,480 (Aug. 9)
30-day high: $586,480 (Aug. 9)
14-day high: $586,480 (Aug. 9)

Yeah, that is a spike.

Fresh off a record-setting rookie max extension, Hawks phenom Trae Young is buzzing. Aug. 9, three days after his re-signing became official, Ice Trae’s card auction market absolutely exploded to over $586,000, more than triple the next-best day of the past three months, a $130,160 total on May 23.

We know who and what Steph Curry is. But with Young only beginning to show what he’s really capable of at basketball’s highest level, his market is one investors need to watch — and consider buying into sooner rather than later.

3. Luka Dončić: 5 years, $207 million
Total value of daily Luka Dončić trading card auction sales, 5/14/21 – 8/12/21 (via Card Ladder)

90-day high: $475,550 (June 28)
30-day high: $270,180 (July 22)
14-day high: $262,040 (Aug. 9)

From the very beginning, Luka Dončić has been one of the biggest names in trading cards. His 1-of-1 Logoman Jersey Patch Autographs rookie card was a previous all-time record-setter across the entire hobby at the start of March 2021 thanks to a $4.6 million sale, though he’s since been overtaken a few times over.

Still, his market is extremely healthy for a young player — but most importantly, it’s consistent and not subject to a sudden, dramatic spike offset by subsequent weeks of stagnation.

His auction market came close to the $500,000 mark in late June, leapt up again just before he began his run with Solvenia to the Olympic semifinals, and had another big day up above $270,000 when he signed the exact same deal as Young: five years and $207 million.

4. Kevin Durant: 4 years, $198 million
Total value of daily Kevin Durant trading card auction sales, 5/14/21 – 8/12/21 (via Card Ladder)

90-day high: $811,020 (June 5)
30-day high: $731,180 (Aug. 9)
14-day high: $731,180 (Aug. 9)

Kevin Durant is the only player on our list with two different days over the last three months that produced over $350,000 in card auction sales.

He’s also the only one with two days up above $700,000.

Yes, it’s good to be the Slim Reaper, who signed a four-year, $198 million contract last Sunday. The very next day, his market experienced its highest point since early June — when Nets and Bucks opened their Eastern Conference Semifinals series — hitting $731,180.

5. Jimmy Butler: 4 years, $184 million
Total value of daily Jimmy Butler trading card auction sales, 5/14/21 – 8/11/21 (via Card Ladder)

90-day high: $1,813.88 (July 22)
30-day high: $1,759.68 (May 29)
14-day high: $1,670.74 (May 22)

Jimmy Butler may be the outlier here in terms of card markets, but you won’t hear Mr. Big Face complaining. Not only does he now get to call NBA champ and fellow two-way destroyer Kyle Lowry his teammate, but the Miami All-Star is the owner of a spiffy four-year deal worth an outstanding $184 million.

His market is the only one of the bunch that has occasional days with zero recorded auction sales based on data available to Card Ladder, but if anything, that makes him an intriguing investment target. If 2021-22 is the year the Heat break through and win their first-ever title that didn’t feature Dwyane Wade on the roster, Jimmy Buckets’ legend will be sealed.

And his 90-day high of $1,813.88 in sales will look tiny by comparison.