The NBA’s courtside commanders rake in salaries that reflect their integral role in steering their teams to glory. Our focus today centers on these strategic maestros of the basketball world,the coaches. These stalwarts command respect and awe for their tactical brilliance, bringing together a group of individuals and molding them into a cohesive, successful unit. But who is bringing home the most bacon? Here, we take a look at the top-ten highest-paid NBA coaches in 2023.
As we delve into the compelling world of NBA coaching, we’ll introduce you to the individuals whose strategic prowess and leadership abilities earn them spots among the highest earners. From their initial steps into the basketball world to the peak of their coaching careers, their stories are as diverse as they are inspiring.
We aim to shed light on these remarkable individuals who are central to the teams they lead and the sport itself.
Their commanding salaries reflect the esteem and the trust placed in them by their respective teams. Amid the heat of NBA games, these coaches orchestrate their squads, devise winning strategies, and manage player dynamics – all while under the constant scrutiny of fans and pundits.
These ten top-earning NBA coaches are notable not just for their lucrative contracts, but also for their significant impact on the game. Let’s get to know them better.
Top-10 Highest-Paid NBA Coaches in June, 2023
Let’s take a closer look at these high-earners and their coaching careers.
Click to jump to a head coach on the top-10 list:
- Monty Williams, Detroit Pistons — $13.05 Million
- Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs — $11.5 Million
- Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors — $9.5 Million
- Nick Nurse, Philadelphia 76ers — $9 Million
- Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat — $8.5 Million
- Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks— $8 Million
- Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks — $8 Million
- Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers — $7.5 Million
- Rick Carlisle, Indiana Pacers — $7.25 Million
- Ime Udoka, Boston Celtic — $6.75 Million
Leading our list is Monty Williams, head coach of the Detroit Pistons, who tops the chart with a salary of $13.05 million. Williams was hired in May 2023 and instantly made history with the highest contract in NBA coaching history. His six-year contract, worth $78.5 million, has the potential to reach a whopping $100 million, marking the Pistons’ belief in his capability.
Williams’ journey began as an NBA player before transitioning into an assistant coaching role in 2005. After years of perseverance, he got his big break in 2019 when he was appointed head coach of the Phoenix Suns.
Despite the team’s struggling history, Williams steered the Suns to the NBA finals in his second season and then to consecutive conference semi-finals. Now, Williams brings his winning mindset to Detroit, a team with a 17-65 record last season. As the 2022 NBA Coach of the Year, expectations are high for Williams to spearhead the Pistons’ turnaround.
The silver medal for highest paid NBA coach goes to the seasoned Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs, earning $11.5 million per year. Popovich is the embodiment of stability, having maintained his position as head coach since 1996.
His extensive list of achievements, including five NBA championships and three NBA Coach of the Year titles, speaks volumes about his strategic genius. Additionally, his coaching has been central to four NBA All-Star games. Popovich, known for his dry wit, unwavering principles, and incisive views on social issues, remains one of the most respected figures in the game.
Further elevating his stature, he led the USA team to a gold medal in 2020, reinforcing his pedigree as a winning coach. As the winningest coach of all time, Popovich’s influence extends beyond the Spurs, nurturing many coaches, including Steve Kerr and Monty Williams.
Coming in at number three with a $9.5 million annual salary is Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors. Kerr embarked on his coaching career with the Warriors in 2014, and in the ensuing years, he has led the team to four NBA championships.
As a five-time NBA champion as a player, Kerr’s transition into coaching was watched with great anticipation. His brief consulting stints with the Suns and in television honed his understanding of the game from a different perspective before he took the reins at Golden State.
Working as an assistant coach to Popovich in the 2020 Olympics, Kerr added a gold medal to his illustrious trophy cabinet. Kerr currently holds the NBA record for the highest winning percentage in a season and in playoffs, reflective of his winning culture. With just one year left on his current contract, the future holds interesting prospects for Kerr.
Nick Nurse of the Philadelphia 76ers ranks fourth on our list, earning $9 million per year. Before earning his NBA stripes, Nurse built his reputation internationally and in the NBA development league.
His break came in 2018 when he took charge of the Toronto Raptors, leading them to their first NBA championship in the following year. Nurse took over from Doc Rivers as the head coach of the 76ers in May 2023, and seems to signify his reputation as a meticulous and innovative coach.
His journey serves as a reminder that the path to NBA coaching greatness can come from different routes. Philadelphia’s acquisition of Nurse points to exciting times ahead for the franchise.
Standing steadfast at the center of Miami Heat’s basketball operations is Eirk Spoelstra, coming in at fifth place with an $8.5 million annual salary. Prior to his tenure with the Heat, Spoelstra played professionally and served as an assistant coach in Germany, collecting invaluable insights that he’d later employ in the NBA.
Appointed as head coach in 2008, Spoelstra quickly showcased his strategic prowess, leading the Heat to back-to-back NBA championships in 2012 and 2013. He’s maintained his standing as one of the NBA’s top-tier coaches, continually adapting his approach to achieve success, even with a team considered an underdog. In the past four years, he’s led Miami to two NBA finals and a conference final.
The longevity and consistency in his performance are commendable, standing as a testament to his tenacity and deep understanding of the game.
The New York Knicks’ head coach, Tom Thibodeau, claims the sixth spot with an $8 million salary. Thibodeau entered the Knicks’ fold on a five-year deal in 2020 and is just fresh off his most successful season with the team.
He made a name for himself while at the Bulls, transforming the Chicago team into perennial playoff contenders. Before making his mark in Chicago, Thibodeau’s career took him on various coaching roles across the NBA, with notable stints at Houston Rockets and Boston Celtics.
Thibodeau’s return to the Knicks presents an intriguing challenge and opportunity. Known for his intense and defensive-minded approach, Thibodeau looks to reinvigorate the Knicks, despite being the highest-paid NBA coach without a championship to his name.
Jason Kidd, of the Dallas Mavericks, ranks seventh on our list with an annual salary of $8 million. Kidd transitioned to coaching remarkably quickly after retiring as a player in 2013. In the ensuing years, he has demonstrated his acumen in roles with the Milwaukee Bucks and Brooklyn Nets.
His experiences from an illustrious playing career give him a unique perspective that Mark Cuban, the Mavericks’ owner, clearly appreciates. Kidd’s journey so far has been a rollercoaster ride, but the man who was known for his court vision as a player is now looking to steer the Mavs towards long-term success.
Currently midway through a four-year stint with Dallas, Kidd is expected to translate his success as a player into his coaching career.
Coming in eighth is Tyronn Lue of the LA Clippers, who earns $7.5 million annually. Lue was thrust into the spotlight after signing a five-year deal in 2020. He immediately made an impact, leading the Clippers to the playoffs in his first season. However, they fell short in the conference finals.
Despite an early exit this year, Lue’s experience with the Cavs, where he won an NBA championship and reached two NBA finals in his first three years, suggests he understands what it takes to compete at the highest level. It’s clear that Lue’s career is still on an upward trajectory, with plenty more to come.
At number nine with a salary of $7.25 million is Rick Carlisle of the Indiana Pacers. Carlisle’s name is synonymous with experience and versatility. Most renowned for his 13-year stint with the Dallas Mavericks, culminating in an NBA championship in 2011, Carlisle has returned to his roots in Indiana.
He spent 11 years honing his craft as an assistant before transitioning to head coaching roles with Detroit Pistons, the Pacers, and the Mavericks. His track record in the league, although currently marred by a 60-104 record in his two seasons back at Indiana, is proof of his strategic thinking and player development prowess.
Rounding out the top ten with a salary of $6.75 million is Ime Udoka of the Houston Rockets. Known for his stint as an assistant coach in Boston, Udoka’s career has had its share of ups and downs.
Controversy unfolded in Boston when he was dismissed for violating team policies, clouding his coaching credentials. Yet,the Rockets signed Udoka to a four-year deal just months after his departure from Boston.
This gamble by the Rockets signals their belief in Udoka’s ability to move beyond the controversy and focus on his coaching abilities. His journey to Houston represents a fresh start, a chance to prove himself once again on the grand stage of the NBA.
While his hire is risky, the Rockets must see a significant upside in Udoka, they seem to think he has a good basketball acumen and like the promise he brings as a head coach.