At the end of the day, NBA players aren’t the only ones walking away with a large paycheck. Some of the league’s head coaches are known to make a pretty penny for writing X’s and O’s on a whiteboard, calling out some plays, and bringing their teams to a championship victory.
From Detroit Pistons coach Dwayne Casey making a whopping $6 million to San Antonio Spurs Gregg Popovich making $11 million, here are some of the highest-paid head coaches in the NBA.
Steve Kerr – $9.5 Million
Steve Kerr has had quite a career as both a player and as a head coach. From 1988-2003, Kerr played for the NBA, jumping around from team to team. Even so, it didn’t stop him from winning five Championship rings, two with the San Antonio Spurs and three with the Chicago Bulls.
He’s been the head coach of the Golden State Warriors since 2014 and hasn’t disappointed fans. With an all-star team backed by Steph Curry, Kerr has brought the Warriors three Championship victories. With eight NBA championship wins on his resume, it’s no wonder Kerr’s salary is $9.5 million.
Dwayne Casey – $6 million
Dwayne Casey was a top recruit straight out of high school. After playing four seasons with the Kentucky Wildcats, making it to an NCAA Championship, and being captain his senior year, Casey wound up as an assistant coach for his alma mater, from 1979-1989.
After coaching both overseas for some time, Casey brought his talents back to the NBA. As of 2021, he is the head coach of the Detroit Pistons. His first year as their coach, Casey won the NBA Coach of the Year. His current salary is a whopping $6 million.
Billy Donovan – $6 Million
Since he was a high schooler, Billy Donovan has been all about basketball. During his college years, he was the starting point guard for Providence College. He spent a few years trying to make it in the NBA, playing for the New York Knicks but gave up playing professionally in 1989.
That year, he set his sights on being an assistant coach for the Kentucky Wildcats. He then moved to Marshall before landing a head coaching position with the Florida Gators from 1996-2015. Donovan then moved to the NBA, coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder before taking a job with the Chicago Bulls in 2020. His salary is $6 million.
Tyronn Lue – $7 Million
Tyronn Lue has had quite a basketball career. Selected during the first round of the 1998 NBA draft by the Denver Nuggets, Lue was soon traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where he would go on to win two Championship rings. His last season as a professional player was in 2009.
That same year, he went on to begin coaching, starting as an assistant for the Boston Celtics. Lue went on to coach the Los Angeles Clippers and the Cleveland Cavaliers before finding a head coaching position with the Clippers in 2020. His current salary is $7 million.
Gregg Popovich – $11 Million
Gregg Popovich played for the United States Air Force Academy from 1966-1970. He skipped the NBA draft and went straight into coaching. And it’s a good thing he did because he is now considered to be one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time.
As a five-time NBA Champion, a three-time NBA Coach of the Year, and a four-time NBA All-Star head coach, it’s safe to say “Coach Pop” knows what he’s doing. He’s been the head coach for the San Antonio Spurs since 1996, and, in 2021, Pop won his 1,300th game with the team. He deserves every cent of his $11 million salary.
Rick Carlisle – $7 Million
After playing his last two years of college basketball at the University of Virginia, Rick Carlisle was drafted by the Boston Celtics. Alongside Larry Bird, Carlisle was on the winning team for the 1986 NBA Championships. He retired from playing professionally in 1989.
From 1989 until 2000, Carlisle hopped around teams, always the assistant coach. He was finally offered a heading coaching position with the Detroit Pistons in 2001, the Indiana Pacers in 2003, and, finally, the Dallas Mavericks in 2008. He is currently one of 11 people to win a championship as both a coach and player. Carlisle’s salary is a solid $7 million.
Michael Malone – $2 Million
Son of former NBA head coach Brendan Malone, it seems like the game was always in Michael Malone’s blood. After playing four years for the Loyola Greyhounds, Malone went on to assistant coaching positions at various universities, starting at Oakland University.
From 1994 until 2013, Malone hopped from assistant coaching position to assistant coaching position, finally securing a head coaching gig with the Sacramento Kings from 2013-2014. Malone has recently been working as the head coach for the Denver Nuggets, where he has an annual salary of $2 million.
Nick Nurse – $8 Million
While Nick Nurse played basketball at the collegiate level, appearing in 111 games at the University of Northern Iowa, he never made it to the NBA. Instead, he played a year with the Derby Rams before hopping straight over to a coaching career. He’s been the one calling the shots since 1989, starting with his alma mater.
Nurse went on to become the head coach of more than one D-League team before landing his current position as the head coach of the Toronto Raptors. In 2019, he led the Raptors to their first-ever Championship win. A year later, he was named Coach of the Year.
Doc Rivers – $10 Million
After his third year at Marquette University, Doc Rivers found himself drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. There, he found great success as a defensive player, something that he became known for throughout his career as both a player and now as a coach.
Rivers finished up his professional career in 1996 before pursuing a coaching career in 1999. He started as a head coach for the Orlando Magic and then moved to the Boston Celtics, where he found great success, winning the 2008 NBA Championship. As of 2021, Rivers is coaching the Philadelphia 76ers and making a salary of $10 million.
Steve Nash – $8.7 Million
Steve Nash is a relatively young coach, having just ended his professional career in 2015 with the Los Angeles Lakers. But it was quite the career. While he never won a Championship ring, Nash left the league as a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and an eight-time NBA All-Star.
After retiring from the court, Nash took up some consulting duties with teams such as the Golden State Warriors before finally becoming a head coach for the Brooklyn Nets in 2020. His current salary is a solid $8.7 million.
Scott Brooks – $7 Million
For the vast majority of his career, from college to the NBA, Scott Brooks bounced around. He played at the collegiate level for not one but three schools, with his last two years playing for the University of California, Irvine. He then went undrafted during the 1987 draft, hopping around from farm team to NBA team until his retirement in 2001.
Brooks then went to bounce around coaching positions, including time as an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets, Sacramento Kings, and a head coach for the Oklahoma City Thunder. In 2016, he was offered the head coaching position for the Washington Wizards. His salary is a whopping $7 million.
Monty Williams – $3 Million
From 1989-1994, Monty Williams played small forward for Notre Dame. He was then selected in the 1994 draft by the New York Knicks, a team he played with until 1996. After playing for the Knicks, Spurs, Nuggets, and Magic, Williams finally retired from the NBA in 2003, after a season with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Two years later, he began his coaching career as an assistant for the Portland Trail Blazers. In 2019, Williams signed a five-year deal with the Phoenix Suns and became the NBCA Coach of the Year for the 2020-2021 season. As of 2021, Williams’s salary is $3 million.
Eric Spoelstra – $3 Million
After receiving multiple basketball scholarship offers, Eric Spoelstra finally accepted one from the University of Portland. He played for the team for all four years, even earning the West Coast Conference freshman of the year in 1989. He never went on to play in the NBA but has had some luck as a coach for the Miami Heat.
Taking up the head coaching position in 2008, Spoelstra has brought the team two NBA Championship victories. And, in 2021, he became one of six coaches to secure 600 wins with a single team. His current salary with the Heat is $3 million.
Frank Vogel – $2 Million
As the student manager of the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team, it seems as though Frank Vogel always had an interest in leading a team off the court. He began his coaching career in 2001 as an assistant for the Boston Celtics. It wasn’t until 2011 when he got his first head coaching job with the Indiana Pacers.
After moving from the Pacers to the Orlando Magic for a few years, Vogel found a home with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019. And the match seems to work, considering the team won the NBA Championship in 2020. His salary is currently $2 million.
Brad Stevens – $3.6 Million
Brad Stevens graduated from DePauw University, having played basketball there and earning a degree in economics. But he didn’t fall into coaching right after college. His first gig came in 2001 as an assistant coach for Butler’s program. He moved to the head coaching position from 2007-2013, bringing the university to its first Final Four.
As of 2013, Stevens is the head coach for the Boston Celtics. Since 2014, Stevens has led the team to the NBA Playoffs each year, earning him a solid salary of $3.6 million. His six-year contract with the team is for a whopping $22 million.
Alvin Gentry – $3.5 Million
While he played point guard at Appalachian State University, Alvin Gentry never made it to the NBA as a player. Instead, he worked for a private business before taking an assistant coaching position at Baylor University in 1980. Gentry then made a career hopping around from team to team, both at the university and professional levels.
Gentry was fired as the New Orleans Pelican’s head coach after a disappointing 2019-2020 season. But he was then hired as the associate head coach for the Sacramento Kings. He’ll be earning a salary of $3.5 million.
Terry Stotts – $5 Million
After playing for the University of Oklahoma Sooners basketball team, Terry Stotts was drafted by the Houston Rockets in 1980. Unfortunately, he didn’t make the cut and wound up playing in Europe for various teams. Retiring from the court in 1990, Stotts soon found himself as an assistant coach for multiple teams, including the 2011 NBA Champs, the Dallas Mavericks.
The following year, Stotts secured a head coaching position with the Portland Trail Blazers. After a rocky first year, Stotts has led the team to more than one winning season. His current 2021 salary is $5 million.
James Borrego – $2 Million
James Borrego attended the University of San Diego, where, right after graduation, he hopped at the opportunity to become the men’s basketball team’s assistant coach. In 2003, he began his career in the NBA, starting with an assistant coaching position with the San Antonio Spurs.
After a career as an assistant, in 2018, Borrego was offered a four-year contract deal as the head coach of the Charlotte Hornets. While Borrego is a two-time NBA Champion, he has yet to win with the Hornets. His current salary is $2 million.
Stan Van Gundy – $7 Million
While Stan Van Gundy has always been surrounded by basketball, he wasn’t a talented enough player to make it to a Division I school during his college days. Instead, he played for his father at The College at Brockport, State University of New York. From there, he went on to coach at multiple universities, both as the head and as an assistant.
It wasn’t until 1995 that Van Gundy moved up to the NBA as the assistant coach of the Miami Heat. As of 2020, he’s the head coach for the New Orleans Pelicans. Van Gundy’s current salary is $7 million.
Quin Snyder – $2 Million
From 1985 to 1989, Quin Snyder was a Duke Blue Devil, playing point guard for the men’s basketball team and helping his team make it to the Final Four during three seasons. While he never made it to the NBA, it didn’t take long for Snyder to pick up a coaching job.
His first job was in 1992 as an assistant for the Los Angele Clippers. After some time coaching at the university level, Snyder returned to the NBA as an assistant for multiple years. Finally, in 2014, he landed the head coaching position with the Utah Jazz. His current salary is $2 million.