NBA

How much do NBA Assistant Coaches really earn?

In the understatement of the year, the NBA makes a lot of money.

With the average NBA player with earnings tens of millions of dollars in salary each year. But what about the coaches who lead these teams from the sidelines – specifically, how much do NBA assistant coaches make in salary?

The salary range for NBA assistant coaches are all over the place and depends on a number of factors. Their experience level and their specific responsibilities within the organization primarily determine how much a AC makes, but how much assistant coaches make is also indirectly impacted by the franchise they’re working for; meaning a good or bad season affects their paycheck too.

A couple poor seasons often means fewer fans in the stands, players’ jerseys sit unsold, and less money from sponsorships and endorsements. The sports betting industry is impacted, too especially for high-dollar gamblers who follow sportsbook reviews on thegruelingtruth.com.  All this can be magnified when the team is in a small market.

NBA Assistant Coach Salaries Vary Widely

If you are to believe Glassdoor, the website that tracks self-reported salaries, the average salary for an NBA Assistant Coach is somewhere between $39,446 and $51,294 per season. Considering what we know about the billions of dollars the NBA brings in one season, we can’t believe that NBA Assistant Coaches make less than G-League players and Associate Managers that work in their corporate offices.

What we do know is that some Assistant Coaches earn six figures, with some making as much as $1 million or more per year. According to an 2019 article by The Washington Post, the top-earning assistant coaches routinely make in the high six figures, but can vary wildly depending on the need and responsibilities.

There’s at least one assistant coach that makes as little as $10,000 a season. Current WNBA player and former WNBA all-star Kristi Toliver pulled in exactly five figures in 2019e.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Toliver told the New York Times. “For me, I looked at the pros and the cons, the pros obviously being I get to rest my body, it being my first time in 10 years of not playing year-round, not going overseas. Obviously there are financial burdens that come with that, but this is also a very exciting opportunity that I want to take advantage of, being home, still being around the game, around the best players in the world, around the best coaches in the world.” 

Of course this wasn’t as tough of a decision for Toliver as this wasn’t her primary career. In 2019, she was making $115,000 playing for the Los Angeles Sparks. Being an assistant coach was supplemental income as the WNBA seasons and NBA seasons don’t overlap.

Highest Paid Assistant Coaches in the NBA

While most assistant coaches can make over a million in annual salary. They are rare. What we’ve seen in our research is the big money Assistant Coaches were Head Coaches at some point, former NBA players, or other high-profile names in the game.

The same year that Toliver made $10,000, Jason Kidd signed a contract that made him the highest-paid Assistant Coach in NBA history — which means he had to be earning at least $1,625,000 a year in salary.  We know that because prior to his signing, Tyronn Lue earned the most as an Assistant Coach when he signed a four-year, $6.5 million contract.

It’s important to note that these figures represent reported salaries and may not include additional compensation such as bonuses or incentives.

Other recent big names that are/were Assistant Coaches in the NBA include Kenny Atkinson, Sam Cassell, Mike D’Antoni, Maurice Cheeks, Alvin Gentry, Becky Hammon, Scott Brooks, Ron Adams, John Beilein, Brian Shaw, Mark Bryant, and Terry Stotts.

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