I've always wondered how this worked. If a player is getting paid $5,000,000 a year, how do they get that salary? Do they receive it at the beginning of the season as a lump sum? Or do they receive payments weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly? Do they get paid during the off season?
According to this cbafaq.com page, NBA payroll rules can vary by the player's contract, within limits stipulated by the CBA:
The league's standard paydays are on the 1st and 15th of each month, beginning November 151. For contracts signed under the current CBA, the default is 24 paychecks paid over one calendar year. Teams and players whose salaries are over the minimum salary can also agree to a 12-check or 36-check schedule, paid over six months or 18 months, respectively. For contracts signed under the previous CBA the standard is 12 paychecks paid over six months, with teams and players also able to negotiate a schedule of 24 paychecks paid over 12 months.
There are various ways for players to be paid at times other than the standard paydays, including signing bonuses, advances, loans, and deferred compensation. However the basic rule is that players must be paid at least 20% of their base compensation, not including bonuses, on regular league paydays. Players cannot have signing bonuses, advances, loan repayment schedules or deferred compensation that cause this rule to be violated.
In contrast, NFL paycheck distribution is simpler. According to USA Today, player paychecks are distributed weekly during the season:
Players are paid their season salary in 17 installments during the regular season.
@Mansfield's answer agrees what with I know about NHL paychecks - 13 paychecks, paid biweekly during the season. According to this Yahoo Answers post:
All salaries are denominated in USD
Players are paid on the 15th and last day of every month starting with September 30th and ending on April 15th
According to this post on baseball-fever.com, MLB players are paid:
We get paid on the 1st and the 15th.
There is a caveat - these paycheck rules can change periodically due to the CBA rules negotiated by the leagues and their player associations.
I can only speak for the NHL, but I believe they receive a percentage of their paycheck in standard two week intervals from the beginning of the regular season till the end of the season(13 paychecks total). Some contracts include signing bonuses (which are generally paid when the contract is signed, as implied) or performance bonuses (paid either when the performance goal is achieved or at the end of the season, I'm not sure which).
Since the NHL has a salary cap based on projected revenue, a certain percentage of the player's salary goes into escrow. If the league hits the target revenue for the year this money will be returned to the player, otherwise a portion of it may be kept by the league.
I don't have an official source on this, it's just based on what I've heard unofficially in articles discussing the CBA negotiations.