Coaching in the NBA is among the toughest jobs in professional sports, but it’s a very demanding job. It involves motivating the troops together to play a certain way, trying to lift your players’ spirits when everyone is down, and most of all, taking the blame when everything goes downhill even if there was nothing you could do about it.
Just ask Doc Rivers, Mike Budenholzer, or even Ime Udoka. They’ll tell us all about it. The crucial point is, do coaches get remunerated fairly for the quality of their services? Some do. Others… maybe not as fairly but for now, let’s take a look at the five highest-paid coaches in the league.
1. Monty Williams
Monty Williams recently made history, receiving the largest coaching contract ever offered in the league, from the Detroit Pistons. Williams won the prestigious Coach of the Year award in 2021, the same year his Phoenix Suns went to the finals and lost in 6 games to the Milwaukee Bucks. Williams was recently fired by the Suns for his team’s failure in the western conference semifinals, despite having one of the top offenses in the league.
Williams recently inked a six-year $78.5 million deal with the Detroit Pistons, thereby making him the highest-paid coach in the league and NBA history. Williams will be having a predictably significantly more challenging time this season managing the Pistons due to their lack of talent when compared to the Suns, so the contract is rightfully deserved if he can bring the Pistons back into relevancy.
2. Gregg Popovich
The legendary Gregg Popovich is the second highest-paid coach in the NBA. He signed a 3-year, $33 million contract with the San Antonio Spurs in 2019. Popovich is and has been the head coach of the Spurs for the last 27 seasons, also being the coach with the longest tenure with one franchise.
Popovich is highly revered by players and coaching staff alike. With the Spurs securing the number one overall pick and drafting generational prospect Victor Wenbanyama, it seems Popovich’s career has no end in sight and Spurs fans will hope he will be able to do with Wenbanyama, what he already accomplished with Tim Duncan.
3. Steve Kerr
The name Steve Kerr is associated with a multitude of things in the NBA world. Older fans remember him as a part of the 90’s Chicago Bulls, playing with Michael Jordan and even hitting a game-winning shot off a pass from MJ in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA finals. Others know him as the coach of the Golden State Warriors, as the man who was able to lead the modern Warriors to 4 championships. Kerr deservedly earns about $9.5 million per year and is in the last year of his deal.
Kerr is the ultimate offensive maestro, managing and forming Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant into a lethal machine that was able to win back-to-back championships. He is a great mediator as he’s even been able to manage the sometimes erratic behavior of Draymond Green and mold him into one of the best defensive players on the court in his prime.
4. Erik Spoelstra
Erik Spoelstra is the head coach of the Miami Heat and is the poster man for consistency. In fifteen seasons of coaching, Spoelstra has been able to make the NBA finals in seven of them. Spoelstra has signed a five-year, $42.5 million deal with the Miami Heat and no one in the Heat front office is rethinking that decision.
Erik Spoelstra this season, has led an eighth-seeded Heat team with their lone superstar, Jimmy Butler all the way to the NBA finals. If that fact alone doesn’t speak for the mans coaching qualifications and calls to the fact that he is underpaid, nothing does.
5. Rick Carlisle
Rick Carlisle is the head coach of the Indiana Pacers and has been for the past two seasons. Carlisle signed a four-year, $29 million dollar contract with the Pacers back in 2021. He has over twenty years of head coaching experience in the NBA and notably coached an aging Dallas Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki and Co. to a title in 2011.
Carlisle has played an important role in restoring a fading Indiana Pacers franchise back to relevancy. With great young stars like Tyrese Haliburton and Benedict Mathurin, Carlisle has an important job in coaching them to reach their full potential and in turn, make Indiana a prime free-agent destination.