Behind every head coach is a team of assistants.
In the NBA, assistant coaches dissect film with players, prepare scouting reports, lead workouts, and offer any support they can to help their team win. It’s a 24/7 job during the season that takes place behind the scenes.
Playing such an important role, how much do assistants take home?
How Much Does an NBA Assistant Coach Make?
It’s hard to place an exact figure since the NBA doesn’t disclose coaching salaries. According to a Washington Post article from New Year’s Day 2019, salaries range from $100,000 to over $1 million depending on coaching experience.
The meat of the story revolves around WNBA player Kristi Toliver’s unique situation as a member of Scott Brooks’ Washington Wizards coaching staff. Toliver was making a lowly salary compared to her peers. The new WNBA CBA helped her get a well-deserved raise.
Jason Kidd became the highest-paid assistant in the league when he was hired by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2019. It’s unclear how much the deal is worth, but it can be assumed it’s in the ballpark of Ty Lue’s four-year, $6.5 million deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers that made him the richest assistant in the league in 2014. Kidd was hired as an assistant before Frank Vogel was brought in for the head coaching job.
Head coaches make an average of around $3 million. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the highest-paid coach in the league, reportedly earning around $11 million. Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers makes around $8 million. There is no salary cap for coaches.
Former players at the NCAA and professional level are strong candidates to assume assistant duties.
Some current assistants who played include Vin Baker of the Milwaukee Bucks; Mike Woodson of the New York Knicks; Jay Larranaga of the Boston Celtics; Chauncey Billups of the Los Angeles Clippers; Sidney Lowe of the Detroit Pistons; Adrian Griffin of the Toronto Raptors; Alvin Gentry of the Sacramento Kings; Darrell Armstrong of the Dallas Mavericks; Greg Foster of the Indiana Pacers; Vitaly Potapenko of the Memphis Grizzlies; Rex Walters of the New Orleans Pelicans; Ryan Bowen of the Denver Nuggets; Tyrone Corbin of the Orlando Magic; John Lucas of the Houston Rockets; Caron Butler of the Miami Heat; and Pablo Prigioni of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The goal of any head coach isn’t to win a coach of the year award. It’s to take that offseason work and put it in practice for the regular season and playoffs. Assistants are a vital part of that process.