NBA coaches don’t get the same fat contracts as NBA players do, but being an NBA coach is still a much more lucrative job than any other normal job. Coaches make millions per year, with the best paid Coaches in NBA up to eight figures annually.
The money that these coaches make is well-deserved. They’re a huge reason why NBA games are so smooth and entertaining to watch, and they play a significant role in unlocking the full potential of the greatest players in the league.
The Highest Paid Coaches in NBA are of course among those who have coached in recent years, thanks to the increase in the revenues of the NBA. But these coaches nonetheless have impressive track records that warrant their salaries, and their impact to the teams they’ve coached for and the league cannot be denied.
Steve Kerr – $5 million
Steve Kerr had no prior professional coaching experience when he was called up by the Golden State Warriors in 2014. What he had was a stellar career as a role player and sharpshooter, winning an NBA championship five times in his playing days. This however wasn’t enough to show if Kerr was cut out for a head coaching job in the NBA.
Nonetheless, Steve Kerr proved to be an incredible coach as he retooled the Warriors offense to fully unleash Splash Brothers Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and Golden State won the championship in Kerr’s first season as head coach. The Warriors went on to win two more rings after the addition of Kevin Durant to their powerhouse roster, and although the current team is not as powerful as it was during the height of its dynasty, Steve Kerr’s Warriors is still a team to watch out for.
Jason Kidd – $6 million
The Milwaukee Bucks Paid Coaches in NBA Jason Kidd well throughout his stay with the team until 2018. Although Kidd’s head coaching career is not as outstanding as his playing career yet, the Hall of Fame point guard’s tremendous basketball IQ translated well to the sidelines. Kidd’s stint with the Bucks saw him supervise Giannis Antetokounmpo’s growth into a bona fide superstar, and the Bucks missed the playoffs just once under Kidd.
Kidd has since parted ways with the Bucks, but he is now a key cog in the Los Angeles Lakers as assistant coach. With Kidd in the coaching staff, the Lakers were able to win the 2020 NBA Championship and Kidd now has an additional ring in his collection.
Scott Brooks – $7 million
Scott Brooks is another member of the long list of former NBA players who transitioned into coaching. Brooks rose to prominence as head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder during the Westbrook-Durant-Harden era where the Thunder was able to make the NBA Finals in 2012 only to lose to another Big Three in the Miami Heat.
In 2016, Brooks was acquired by the Washington Wizards where he was able to work with the superstar backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Wizards haven’t found much fortune in the past few years, but with Brooks being reunited with Russell Westbrook in the revamped Wizards backcourt, there is potential for growth.
Dwane Casey – $7 million
The Toronto Raptors during the Dwane Casey era wasn’t as star-studded as the other top teams in the league, but they were nonetheless a perennial playoff team who posed a legitimate threat to LeBron’s Cavaliers’ reign over the East.
Unfortunately, due to him being unable to get the Raptors over the hump, he was let go just as LeBron left the Eastern Conference. Casey is now the head coach of the Detroit Pistons where he is expected to transform a less than stellar team on paper into a playoff team.
Stan Van Gundy – $7 million
Stan Van Gundy has coached for a number of NBA teams, but the best team that he has helmed so far is the Dwight Howard era Orlando Magic. With Van Gundy at the sidelines, the Magic was able to make the NBA Finals in 2009 only to fall to Kobe Bryant’s Lakers. Van Gundy also had the privilege to coach the NBA All-Star Game twice in 2005 and 2010.
Now with the New Orleans Pelicans, Van Gundy looks to utilize his acumen to develop the young core of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball into a title contender in the future.
Rick Carlisle – $7 million
Carlisle began his head coaching career in 2001, but he solidified his standing as one of the best coaches today during his stint with the Dallas Mavericks. The 2002 Coach of the Year took over Dirk Nowitzki’s Mavericks and led the team to the 2011 NBA Finals, where the Mavs upset the newly-anointed Miami Heat Big Three to give Dallas its first NBA championship.
Rick Carlisle’s competence has earned him his salary, and the Mavericks are now expecting Carlisle to oversee the meteoric rise of Luka Doncic and to turn the Mavs, together with the European duo of Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, into a Western Conference powerhouse.
Tom Thibodeau – $8 million
Tom Thibodeau came into the head coaching scene as the head coach of the Chicago Bulls, where he was able to coach stars such as Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Jimmy Butler. In 2016, Thibodeau signed a five-year, $40 million contract to become the head of basketball operations and head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves, where Thibodeau oversaw the core of Butler, Karl Anthony Towns, and Andrew Wiggins.
Thibodeau’s stint with the Timberwolves was unfortunately cut short, but he is now the head coach of the New York Knicks. The Knicks’ haven’t been a competitive team for a while now, but with Thibodeau as head coach and with 2019 3rd overall pick RJ Barrett on the team, there is hope in New York.
Doc Rivers – $10 million
Doc Rivers has had a storied head coaching career, winning the Coach of the Year award in 2000 with the Orlando Magic, before moving on to the Boston Celtics where he led the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen to the 2008 NBA Championship. Rivers’ Celtics likewise made the NBA Finals in 2010 where they succumbed to the Lakers, but Boston remained an established contender under Rivers.
Rivers made the most money, however, with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers enlisted the services of the championship coach where he was able to coach the famed Lob City trio of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. Unfortunately, the Clippers were perennially unable to make it past the second round of the playoffs. Rivers is now the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers where he is tasked to coach the team highlighted by the core duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Gregg Popovich – $11 million
There is no denying that Gregg Popovich is the greatest head coach amongst all active head coaches, and that he has a legitimate case as the greatest coach of all time. The track record speaks for itself. Popovich has coached the legendary trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili, and present NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard. Under Popovich, the San Antonio Spurs were a mainstay in the Paid Coaches in NBA and have won the NBA Championship five times.
The three-time Coach of the Year remains the head coach of the Spurs, and although the team is not the contender that it once was, the fluidity of Popovich’s offense and the superb passing of the Spurs remain to be things that other coaches seek to emulate.