NBA Coaches With The Highest Salary
29 October 2020
Last updated: 25 February 2021 at 4:07 pm
The NBA is seen by many as the pinnacle sporting competition in the world of sport, with players have to compete through a gruelling regular season and playoff schedule just to reach the NBA Finals. As well as needing a talented roster of players that are perfect for dealing with every imaginable situation, the best teams are often determined by the coaches.
The coaches make all the difference in the NBA, as they are able to make immediate changes on the game when the teams need them most. Their importance can easily be shown by the inflation in the NBA coach salary.
The average NBA coach salary and NBA assistant coach salary has increased with every passing year, and that average is much higher than that of the NBA strength and conditioning coach salary. These are the five coaches that are paid the most by their respective teams.
The NBA coach with the highest NBA head coach salary is Gregg Popovich. It has been reported that the five-time NBA title winner is paid as much as $11 million per season. It is hard to argue against the San Antonio Spurs coach receiving a higher salary than the majority of other coaches in the league, as he has led the franchise to five NBA championships.
That success means that he is only one of five coaches that has been able to win the NBA Championship on five occasions. His reputation in the game is unquestionable, as he is regarded as one of the greatest coaches that have been seen in the NBA. As well as that, during his tenure in charge of the Spurs, he has overseen a winning record against every other team in the NBA. Popovich has also won the NBA Coach of the Year award on three occasions, with the most recent of these successes coming in 2014.
Steve Kerr is one of the most instantly recognisable figures in the history of basketball, as he has achieved success both as a player and a coach. He is now one of the figures with the highest NBA coach salary. During his playing days, he won five NBA Championships, with three of those coming with the immortal Chicago Bulls. However, he has been able to find success as a coach too, as he has won three NBA Championships with the Golden State Warriors.
He joined the Warriors as head coach in 2014 and became the first rookie since Pat Riley to win the NBA Championship. Kerr would then guide the Warriors to the NBA Finals in four successive seasons, with the winning championships coming in 2015, 2017 and 2018. Kerr has won the Coach of the Year award on three occasions.
Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra is also among the highest-earning NBA coaches, and he has been with the Miami Heat since 1997. He served as the assistant up until 2008 when he was promoted to head coach. There was enormous pressure on Spoelstra immediately after he was appointed shortly after the franchise brought in LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
However, his time as head coach has been a huge success, as he has won the NBA Championship on two occasions, and also has led his team to the NBA Finals on five occasions. The most recent of those NBA Finals came in the 2020 post-season, as the Miami Heat were beaten by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rick Carlisle is also one of the highest-paid coaches in the NBA, as he is one of just eleven people that have won the NBA Championship as both a coach and a player. His only NBA Championship as a player came during a two-year stint with the Boston Celtics, as he won the championship in 1986. He ended his playing career with the New Jersey Nets, before becoming their assistant coach in 1989.
Carlisle served as the assistant at the Nets for five years, before occupying the same position with the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers. His first head coach role was with the Detroit Pistons, where he would become the NBA Coach of the Year in his second season at the franchise. Carlisle could coach the Indiana Pacers, before moving onto the Dallas Mavericks in 2008. At the Mavericks he won the NBA Championship again in 2011, and in January 2015, he signed a new five-year deal with the franchise.
The most recent addition to the highest earners list in the NBA coaches is Nick Nurse, who recently signed a new multi-year contract with the Toronto Raptors worth $8 million a season. Nurse spent much of his early coaching career around Europe and coached teams such as the Birmingham Bullets and the Manchester Giants. He would get his first break in North America with the Iowa Energy in 2007, before moving onto the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2011.
Nurse’s big break came in 2013 as he was appointed as assistant coach to Dwayne Casey, before making the step up to head coach in 2018. Nurse became a national hero in Canada during the 2018-19 NBA season as he led the team to their first-ever NBA Championship. His reputation has continued to build since then, as the Raptors continued to improve without Kawhi Leonard. Nurse was awarded the Coach of the Year award in 2020, and his long-term commitment to the Raptors ensures that they will be solid NBA picks to continue to excel in the Eastern Conference next season.