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Who are the highest paid head coaches in the NBA?

Here are the National Basketball Association’s highest-paid coaches, who may not make as much as the players they lead but still earn significant salaries.

Detroit Pistons head coach Monty Williams watches the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Detroit Pistons during the first half at the American Airlines Center.
Jerome MironUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Though the majority of attention in any sport is paid to the players who participate, we’ve seen time and time again the difference that having a visionary coach can make. Join us for a look at the top dogs and their salaries.

The highest-earning coaches in the NBA

Unlike players, what coaches in the NBA are paid is not often so easy to discover. That being said, there are some elite tacticians in the league, and their cases, the numbers are known, and to be fair, we can’t say they aren’t worth it. Based on Sportico’s list of highest-paid coaches in the United States from 2021, we’re bringing you those who work in the NBA. While these guys aren’t necessarily earning what their players do, they’re not making peanuts. Here we go!

#1 Monty Williams - Detroit Pistons: $13.5 million

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported this off-season that the Detroit Pistons have signed a six-year contract with a total value of $78.5 million, making it the largest coaching deal in NBA history. The contract has options for the seventh and eighth year; with incentives, the total value could go up to almost $100 million.

#2 Gregg Popovich - San Antonio Spurs: $13.0 million

If you’re an NBA fan, this one can’t surprise you. Coach ‘Pop’ is undoubtedly the most respected coach in the modern era of basketball and, quite frankly, has had a hand in the success of almost every other who’s come since. With five NBA titles, three Coach of the Year awards, and 22 consecutive playoff berths for the Spurs between 1998 and 2019, we think this one is well deserved. With a new contract extension signed this summer and with Wemby on the roster, we don’t see Pop getting in retirement any time soon.

#3 Steve Kerr - Golden State Warriors: $9.5 million

In recent years, the team to beat has been the Golden State Warriors. Having had a successful playing career alongside Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls, Kerr has seemingly taken that appetite for titles to the Warriors. Since joining the franchise in 2014, Kerr has helped the team to four NBA championships and was named the Coach of the Year in 2016.

#4 Erik Spoelstra - Miami Heat: $8.5 million

A two-time NBA champion in 2012 and 2013, Spoelstra started his career in the NBA as a video coordinator with the Miami Heat in 1995. He would compile clips for the coaching staff to help them map out upcoming opponents. From there, he would be promoted to head coach in 2008, and as we mentioned before, that turned out to be a success—two straight years.

#5 Mike Budenholzer - Milwaukee Bucks: $8 million

As mentioned before, Popovich has had a hand in tutoring many a coach, and Budenholzer is one of them. His first head coaching job arrived in 2013 with the Atlanta Hawks, where he would stay until 2018, when the Milwaukee Bucks signed him. It was there that Budenholzer would come into his own as he led Giannis and the Bucks to the franchise’s second-ever NBA title in 2021. His CV also includes Coach of the Year awards in 2015 and 2019.

#6 Nick Nurse - Toronto Raptors: $8 million

A game veteran, Nurse started as an assistant coach with Northern Iowa in 1989 before moving to England to play with the Derby Rams for a season. The following year, he would take on a player-coach role with Derby before hopping from job to job until finally entering the NBA via the then-D League in 2007. Working under the radar, Nurse would land a job with the Raptors in 2013 as an assistant before ultimately taking over as head coach in 2019. That same year, he led the franchise to its first-ever NBA title.

#7 Steve Nash - Brooklyn Nets: $8 million

A former two-time league MVP and a talented coach, Nash’s accomplishments - it has to be said - don’t measure up to the others on the list. On the other hand, having taken over as Nets head coach in 2020, it’s fair to say that he and the team have seen their share of obstacles since. With that said, we’ve got the feeling that the eight-time NBA All-Star could be on the cusp of sensational seasons with a team loaded with firepower and finally seems ready to work together.