NBA coaches have a very hard job and they are partially responsible for every victory that their team wins. For good reasons, the NBA coach salary is one of the highest in the field.
In spite of this pressing factor, NBA coaches don’t make a similar income when contrasted with the players. Still, all things considered, it is one of the most lucrative positions around.
While the job of NBA coaches became increasingly harder and tougher every year, some of them still make an incredible job with lots of victories and, for this reason, get a very high salary.
According to ESPN, NBA players earn as much as $43 million. While NBA coach salaries are high, there is a significant difference between them both. This is why we’ll go through the average salaries of experienced coaches today.
From the experience of Gregg Popovich to the titles of Doc Rivers and more, we’ll go through the NBA coach salary as well as how these coaches got where they are.
Here below, you will find the highest NBA coach salary that you need to know.
Top 8 Highest-Paid NBA Coaches
Most NBA coaches don’t earn as much as some players. However, as you will be able to see below, some NBA Coach salaries are still very high and they live on pretty comfortable standards.
If you’re here to know the highest-paid NBA coaches, their salary, how they got there, and their titles, make sure to read below to have a better idea of why NBA coaches are well paid.
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs ($11 million)
Gregg Popovich has proven himself time again to be one of the most successful coaches in the league. He is on a very high-profile job, many people still hold his head high for the job he has done with the Spurs.
He took over the Spurs in 1996 and he’s still their coach nowadays. It is important that he holds the title of the longest lasted NBA coach and, therefore, his experience is unequaled and this explains his NBA coach salary.
In addition, Popovich has the most victories in NBA history surpassing all other coaches.
The Spurs have won 5 National Basketball Association championships and Popovich has made it known over the years that he plans to win more of them in the future.
Gregg Popovich also received many important titles such as:
- On the 9th of February 2015, Gregg Popovich was named the 9th coach in NBA history to ever win 1,000 games
- On the 22nd of April 2014, Gregg Popovich is awarded the Red Auerbach Trophy for his winning of the NBA Coach of the Year
- On the 13th of April 2019, Popovich became the all-time winningest coach in NBA history with his 1,413th game won.
More recently, on the 27th of March 2021, Popovich, together with the San Antonio Spurs, won the 1300th season game of his career. Needless to say, this is an impressive milestone and Popovich is only the 3rd NBA coach to have reached it.
To sum up, Gregg Popovich is simply the best coach in National Basketball history and his NBA coach salary only reflects his experience.
Popovich joined the Spurs in 1994 as a general manager. His previous $8 million per year contract, which started in 2014 for 5 years, was extended for 3 years for $11 million per year and is due to end in 2022. However, he is expected to sign a further 3-year contract and continue with the San Antonio Spurs for longer than expected.
Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets ($8.7 million)
Steve Nash is a Canadian professional basketball coach and former NBA player. He is the current head coach of the Brooklyn Nets. He played a total of 18 seasons in the NBA since 1996.
Nash started his career in 1996 with the Phoenix Suns and then moved to the Dallas Mavericks in 1998. Steve Nash was a veteran point guard in the NBA when he signed with the Dallas Mavericks in 1998. The team had not been to playoffs in more than 10 years, but after joining forces with Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Finley, they made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. Nash averaged 15 points per game that season on his way to being named an All-Star for the first time of his career.
After that, he came back to Phoenix from 2004 to 2012. During this time, he got voted the All-Start Game for the eighth time in his career.
Lastly, he played for Los Angeles Lakers from 2012 to 2015 and this was the last step in his career. During the first season at the Lakers, he got his leg injured and he then suffered from nerve problems in the 2013-2014 season due to this trouble.
Eventually, in September 2020, he was named head coach of the Brooklyn Nets with a salary of $8.5 million. In March 2021, Steve Nash was voted the Eastern Conference Coach in February – the first time since 2014 for a Brooklyn Nets coach.
All things considered, Nash is a brilliant coach with lots of experience as a player and we can see why he has one of the highest NBA coach salaries in 2021.
Steve Nash signed a 4-year contract with the Brooklyn Nets in 2020 worth $8.7 million per year, with Jacque Vaughn staying in the team as an assistant coach. The news came as a surprise in the NBA world since Nash didn’t have any previous experience as a coach.
Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat ($8.5 million)
Erik Spoelstra is a professional basketball coach and the current head of the Miami Heat. He became head coach of the Miami Heat in 2008 and never left the team and the position since.
In the 2012–13 season, Spoelstra was named head coach of the 2013 Eastern Conference All-Stars in the 2013 NBA All-Star Game, when he was the Miami Heat’s leader in wins. He went on to lead the Heat to a 27-game winning streak (third-longest in NBA history).
Following the signings of LeBron James and Chris Bosh in 2010, expectations for the team’s success were significantly increased for the following season and beyond. After the Miami Heat began the 2010–2011 campaign with a 9-8 record, some players on the team were “disappointed” with Spoelstra, suggesting if he should keep his job as head coach.
That said, he stayed in the same position and eventually managed to get the team better results.
On December 16, 2017, Spoelstra surpassed Riley for most wins in Heat history when the team defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 90–85. In the 2016–17 season’s finale, Spoelstra was named the NBCA Co-Coach of the Year after leading Miami to a 30 win record in the final 41 games of the year.
During the 2019–20 season, Spoelstra coached again led Miami back to the 2020 NBA Finals before losing 4–2 to Los Angeles Lakers.
To sum up, Erik Spoelstra is a great professional and we can see why he’s got one of the best NBA coach salaries in 2021.
After coaching the Heat for the previous 11 seasons, Spoelstra signed a 4-year contract extension with the team back in 2019. With this extension, Spoelstra becomes the second-longest active coach in a team, right behind Gregg Popovich at the Spurs with an $8.5 million salary.
Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors ($8 million)
Steve Kerr is another head coach that has years of experience as a player behind him. First of all, he’s the only player in the NBA that won 4 consecutive titles. Also, he used to hold the record for the highest three-point percentage in a single season with 52.4%.
Kerr played in numerous teams as a player hence why he has so much experience as a head coach today. In the 1988-1989 season, he was selected as part of the Phoenix Suns. After this, he joined the Cleveland Cavaliers for 3 years, from 1989 to 1992.
He was then, in the 1992-1993 season, with the Orlando Magic. After this, he became an exceptional player for the Chicago Bulls for 6 years, from 1993 to 1999. Following this 6-year successful part of his career, he then joined the San Antonio Spurs, the Portland Trail Blazers where he played 65 games, and eventually the Spurs again for 1 season before retiring.
Steve Kerr started a new career as a consultant and general manager of the Phoenix Suns from 2004 to 2010.
Eventually, he started his new head coach career at the Golden State Warriors from 2014 until today.
Kerr is the first coach in history to win more than 67 wins in 3 consecutive seasons and is overall one of the most experienced individuals in the whole of the NBA. This is why he clearly deserves one of the highest NBA coach salaries in 2021.
In 2018, Steve Kerr signed a multi-year contract, which the length remained undisclosed, and hopes to be coaching the team for at least the next 10 to 15 years to come. His previous contract was of 5 years and worth $25 million with the new salary being $8 million yearly.
Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors ($8 million)
Nick Nurse is one of the most experienced head coaches in 2021 despite the fact of having been a professional player only for a year, from 1990 to 1991 at Derby Rams.
Nurse started his NBA career in June 2013 at the Toronto Raptors and took care of the offense while being under Dwane Casey.
Following a few years as an assistant coach, Nick Nurse became the head coach of the Toronto Raptors in 2018 and lead the team to the 2019 NBA finals for the very first time. The team eventually won the NBA league against the Golden State Warriors in June 2019.
Last but certainly not least, Nurse was voted the NBA Coach of the Year in August 2020. Despite this, the Raptors were not able to reach similar levels as the previous season and, therefore, were eliminated during the Conference Semifinals.
Nurse signed a multi-year contract extension worth $8 million per year and, given his experience, we can see he’s here to stay.
Doc Rivers – Philadelphia 76ers ($8 million)
Doc Rivers started his coaching career in 1999 for the Orlando Magic where he stayed until 2003. In 2000, he was voted Coach of the Year after just a year as a coach. In 2004, he took over the head coach role at the Boston Celtics where he stayed until 2013. This is with the Celtics that Rivers won his first NBA Championship in 2008 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Following a successful career at the Boston Celtics, he moved to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2013 and he stayed head coach until 2020.
In 2020, Rivers was hired as a head coach by the Philadelphia 76ers. He signed a 5-year contract that secured him $8 million per year making him one of the highest-paid NBA coaches.
Tyronn Lue – LA Clippers ($7 million)
The Los Angeles Clippers is a team with several great players, but they need their great coach Tyronn Lue. Tyronn Lue is a firestorm in the basketball world, as he is one of the most innovative coaches in the NBA.
He has won titles with some of the greatest teams in the history of the game, and he has led his teams to some surprising, almost never-ending success.
Many people agree that Tyronn Lue is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game, and his reputation is deservedly so. For this reason, he has one of the highest NBA coach salaries which is well deserved.
He joined the LA Clippers in 2013 and he was, before that, part of the development team of the Boston Celtics.
Moreover, it is important to highlight that, with Lue as a coach for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team won the 2016 NBA finals.
Lue signed a 5-year coach contract with the LA Clippers back in October 2020. Of course, given his experience and the years passed at the LA Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers, and the number of titles won, his NBA coach salary is remarkable at $7 million.
Jason Kidd – Dallas Mavericks ($7 million)
Jason Kidd has a high NBA coach salary due to his experience, the teams coached, and the seasons won, and we can only understand why.
At the beginning of his career in 1994, Kidd joined the Dallas Mavericks as a player. During his time there, Kidd was able to increase the team performance compared to the previous season. In fact, the team’s record improved to 36–46. In 23 total games, it was, at the time, the largest improvement in the whole of the NBA.
After that, Kidd spent a few years at Phoenix Suns and New Jersey Nets before coming back to the Dallas Mavericks in 2008.
Following a career as a player for over 14 years, Jason Kidd was named coach of the Brooklyn Nets in 2013 and the Milwaukee Bucks in 2014.
Jason Kidd was hired as the Mavericks’ coach in 2021, 9 years after leaving the team as a player in 2012.
Needless to say, his experience as a coach in multiple teams makes him one of the best coaches and, therefore, got him a high NBA coach salary. His previous position as the Los Angeles Lakers was his first as an assistant coach and the team won the 2020 NBA Finals. Naturally, the results successfully prepared Kidd as a head coach for the Dallas Mavericks.
The 3 Lowest-Paid NBA Coaches
While some of the salaries aren’t publicly disclosed, we researched all the NBA coach salaries for you so you don’t have to.
Of course, there are several factors to their salary from experience to popularity, and this is why they are lower than their colleagues above. Let’s go through the lowest-paid NBA coach salary:
Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies ($2.5 Million)
Jenkins has worked with the San Antonio Spurs basketball operations department, the Austin Toros, the Atlanta Hawks, and now with the Milwaukee Bucks. He was also an assistant coach for the Eastern Conference All-Star Team.
In June 2019, Jenkins was named as the new head coach of the Memphis Grizzlies. In January 2020, after guiding the Grizzlies to an 11–4 record, Jenkins was named Western Conference Coach of the Month.
All in all, Jenkins surely has some experience and brought fresh air to the Memphis Grizzlies. Naturally, while he receives one of the lowest NBA coaches’ salaries, it is still an impressive amount with $2.5 million.
James Borrego, Charlotte Hornets ($2 Million)
Borrego is another coach that gets $2 million per year and that worked hard in is career for this income.
In fact, James Borrego has been assistant coach as well as head coach in different teams such as San Antonio Spurs, Orlando Magic, and Charlotte Hornets, where he was named the first Latino person as head coach in 72 years of NBA history.
While his NBA coach isn’t the highest, the Hornets performance is remarkable and they are among the first teams in the Eastern Conference in the season 2020-2021.
Needless to say, Borrego brings lots of experience to the NBA field and he definitely deserves his millions.
Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks ($2 Million)
Last but not least, Mike Budenholzer is another incredible coach with years of experience in different teams.
Budenholzer, or coach Bud, was assistant coach for the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich and was then head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks.
On top of that, Budenholzer was also voted the NBA Coach of the Year 2018-2019.
If we check all of them, the lowest NBA coach salary is $2 Million. Of course, while this is calculated on much more than that, it is still a good income for playing 82 games a year.
What Is The Average NBA Coach Salary?
If we take the 3 highest and 3 lowest salaries, we can see that the average NBA coach salary is just over $5 million ($5.3, to be precise).
Given the fact that each season has 82 games, NBA coaches earn around $64,500 per game.
Of course, there is much more than this such, as preparation and strategy, however, it is still a considerable amount to live comfortably.
Our Final Thoughts
These were all the NBA coach salaries that one should know. Of course, these are pretty high amounts but they are nonetheless justified for the years and amount of experience that all these professional coaches have.
Other than that, it is important to note that most NBA coaches have studied in reputable and popular universities. In fact, other than a background as an NBA player, they will also need to have the mathematical mindset and sometimes even a science one.
To conclude, you now know the salaries of worldwide famous NBA coaches and how they got there. Whether you are a professional willing to get to their level or simply getting some experience, you know what to expect as a premium coach.