Top Ten Highest Paid Coaches in the NBA

This year’s NBA season has drawn to a close in the form of a dramatic 7-game finish between the San Antonio Spurs and the Miami Heat. With another championship under their belt the Miami Heat can now enjoy the summer until the next season starts. This down time gives us the ability to examine some of the people behind the scenes – the coaches. Here are the top ten highest paid NBA coaches in 2012:


Scott Skiles

Milwaukee Bucks

Salary: $4.5 million

After attending Michigan State University, where he set the still-standing record of most points in a season, Skiles was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks where he played a season. After that he played with the Indiana Pacers, the Orlando Magic, the Washington Bullets, and the Philadelphia 76ers. Skiles’ NBA coaching career began in 1999 when he was named the head coach of the Phoenix Suns. After 3 seasons, he parted ways and was named the head coach of the Chicago Bulls where he coached for 4 seasons. Most recently he was the head coach of the Milwaukee Bucks the same place where his NBA career had began.


Stan Van Gundy

Orlando Magic

Salary: $4.5 million

Stan Van Gundy started his professional coaching career in 1981 when he was named the assistant coach of the University of Vermont basketball team. His NBA debut occurred in 1995 when he was offered the assistant coaching position of the Miami Heat. After 8 years, he was eventually named the head coach of the Miami Heat in 2003 and led the team until 2005. After a year hiatus, he assumed the role of head coach of the Orlando Magic until the end of the 2012 season.


Mike Brown

Los Angeles Lakers

Salary: $4.5 million

Considered one of the best defensive coaches in the league, Mike Brown has had a long coaching history. His career started as an assistant coach for the Washington Wizards in 1997. After spending two seasons with the Wizards, he accepted another assistant coaching role with the San Antonio Spurs in 2000. Three seasons later, he accepted another assistant coaching position with the Indiana Pacers. His first head coaching opportunity came with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2005. After spending 5 seasons with the Cavaliers and being named NBA Coach of the Year in 2009, he was named the head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers. After two short seasons with the Lakers, he returned back to Cleveland.


Rick Carlisle

Dallas Mavericks

Salary: $4.5 million

The Boston Celtics drafted Rick Carlisle originally in 1984 with which he won a NBA Championship with in 1986. After playing several with the Celtics until 1987, he was signed by the New York Knicks and played a season with them before departing and playing a season with the New Jersey Nets. His coaching career began in 1989 when he accept an assistant coaching position with the Nets where he spent five seasons under Bill Fitch.  His first head coaching gig was with the Detroit Pistons which began during the 2001 season and lasted through 2003. After 2003, he spent 4 seasons with the Indiana Pacers before assuming the mantle of the Dallas Mavericks in 2008. In 2011 he coached the Dallas Mavericks to win the NBA Championship, making him only the 11th player in history to win a NBA Championship both as a player and as a coach.


Flip Saunders

Washington Wizards

Salary: $4.8 million

Flip Saunders is the current President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Prior to assuming this role, he was the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves from 1995 to 2005, the head coach of the Detroit Pistons from 2005 to 2008, and most recently the head coach of the Washington Wizards from 2009 to 2012. During his career he has won more than 638 NBA games and holds an all-time win-to-loss ratio of .548.



Rick Adelman

Minnesota Timberwolves

Salary: $5 million

Rick Adelman has been an NBA coach since 1983 when he accepted the assistant head coach position for the Portland Trail Blazers. By the time the 1989 season rolled around he was promoted to head coach. and stayed with the organization until 1994. After coaching for the Trail Blazers he coached the Golden State Warriors for two years, then the Sacramento Kings for 7 years, the Houston Rockets for 4 years, until joining the Minnesota TImberwolves in 2011. Over the years, Adelman was named the NBA All-Star Game head coach on three different occasions in 1991, 2001, and again in 2003.


Nate McMillan

Portland Trail Blazers

Salary: $5.5 million

Originally drafted in 1986, Nate McMillan began his NBA career with the Seattle SuperSonics.  Over his 12-year playing career, McMillan was named the NBA steals leader in 1994, and made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team two years in a row, during 1994 and 1995. When McMillan retired in 1998, he stayed with the Seattle franchise and earned the position of assistant coach. During the 2000 season, he was promoted to head coach and remained with the organization for 5 years in that position. After almost 20 years with the SuperSonics, he made the decision to leave and become the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers and served in that role until 2012 when he was eventually fired. Another interesting fact about McMillan is he was the assistant coach under Mike Krzyzewski for the US National Team during the 2012 London Summer Olympics.


Gregg Popovich

San Antonio Spurs

Salary: $6 million

Gregg Popovich has the longest tenure of any coach in the NBA. He has been the head coach of the San Antonio Spurs since 1996. During this time he has won four NBA Championships and named the NBA Coach of the Year on two separate occasions.  Over the course of his career, Popovich has won more than 900 games and has an all-time win-to-loss ratio of .681 making him one of the best coaches in NBA history. Outside of basketball, Popovich is heavily involved in several charities and programs in San Antonio. He is actively involved in the Spurs/Pizza Hut Drug Free Youth Basketball League and the San Antonio Food Bank.


Mike D’Antoni

Los Angeles Lakers

Salary: $6 million

Mike D’Antoni is the current head coach of one of the most storied teams in all of basketball, the Los Angeles Lakers. Like many coaches, he started off as a player before later becoming a coach. As a player, D’Antoni played for the Kansas-City-Omaha Kings, Spirits of St. Louis, San Antonio Spurs, and ended his career in Italy playing for the Olimpia Milano. His coaching career has spanned more than 20 years and started in 1990 when he accepted a coaching position in Italy for the Phillips/Recoaro Milano. His NBA coaching debut occurred in 1998 when he was named the Director of Player Personnel for the Denver Nuggets. A year later he was a scout for the San Antonio Spurs. His first high-profile coaching position occurred the next year when the Portland Trail Blazers made his an Assistant Coach. After a few setbacks here and there, he ultimately ended up with the Los Angeles Lakers and has high ambitions for the team.


Doc Rivers

Los Angeles Clippers

Salary: $7 million

Doc Rivers has been involved with the NBA for 30 years. He started as a payer in 1983 when he was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks. He spent 8 seasons with the Hawks before spending a season with the Los Angeles Clippers, two with the New York Knicks, and ending his playing career with the San Antonio Spurs After a 3 year hiatus, Doc began his coaching career with the Orlando Magic in 1999. After several seasons with the Magic, he spent the last 9 years with the Boston Celtics, and most  recently with the Los Angeles Clippers after he was traded for a NBA first round draft pick. As a head coach he has amassed 587 total career wins with an overall win-to-loss ratio of .554. During the 2007-2008 season with the Celtics, he won his first NBA Championship.

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