Who are the highest paid head coaches in the NBA?
Say what you like, but as talented a roster as you might have, an equality talented coach is required for success. That’s why you’ve got to pay them well.
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 of course some elite tacticians in the league and in 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. Needless to say, while these guys aren’t necessarily earning what their players do, they’re definitely not earning peanuts. Here we go!
#1 Gregg Popovich - San Antonio Spurs: $11.5 million
If you’re an NBA fan, this one can’t be a surprise. Coach ‘Pop’ is without doubt 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 22 consecutive playoff berths for the Spurs between 1998 and 2019, we think this one is well deserved.
#2 Steve Kerr - Golden State Warriors: $9.5 million
Let’s be honest, in recent years the team to beat has most definitely 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 he joined the franchise in 2014, Kerr has helped the team to four NBA championships and was even named the Coach of the Year in 2016.
#3 Doc Rivers - Philadelphia 76ers: $8.5 million
Though his most recent season was dogged by speculation that he might be dismissed - the 76ers underperformed - Rivers is without doubt one of the league’s top coaches. Formerly with the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers, the player turned coach joined Philadelphia in 2020. Though many are waiting to see whether or not he can repeat the feat, we should mention that he won a title with Boston back in 2008 and was named Coach of the Year with the Magic in 2000.
#4 Erik Spoelstra - Miami Heat: $8.5 million
A two-time NBA champion in 2012 and 2013, Spoelstra actually started his career in the NBA as a video coordinator with the Miami Heat back in 1995. There, he would compile clips for the coaching staff in an effort 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 the tutoring of 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 he was signed by the Milwaukee Bucks. It was there, that Budenholzer would really 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 both 2015 and 2019.
#6 Nick Nurse - Toronto Raptors: $8 million
A veteran of the game, Nurse started out 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. In 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 clearly 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 a sensational seasons with a team that’s loaded with firepower and finally seems ready to work together.