Among the 10 highest paid coaches in the NBA, there are four with a championship ring (Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, Rick Carlisle, Doc Rivers) and two who are in their first season on the job, coming from college basketball this summer – Fred Hoiberg (Chicago Bulls) and Billy Donovan (Oklahoma City Thunder).
Fred Hoiberg, Chicago Bulls
It took $5 million a season to draw Hoiberg away from his cushy job with Iowa State, so far leading the Bulls to a 22-15 record. He played for the Pacers, Bulls and Timberwolves during his NBA career and later worked in the Timberwolves front office. He coached the Cyclones five seasons, compiling a 115-56 record, winning two Big 12 tournaments, making the Sweet Sixteen once.
Derek Fisher, New York Knicks
When Fisher isn’t busy pissing off Matt Barnes, he’s the head coach of the Knicks, into his second season, making $5 million a year. After an awful 17-65 tanking debut season, the Knicks are 20-21 at this point, strong in the developing playoff race and looking towards what might be a bright future. As a player, Fisher doesn’t need much introduction. He’s a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, doing quite well next to Kobe Bryant who was his backcourt partner for most of his career, although Fisher retired after playing for the Oklahoma City Thunder, chasing one final ring.
Jason Kidd, Milwaukee Bucks
Kidd has been doing this thing one year more than Fisher, quickly getting into coaching after retiring. He is making $5 million in his second season with the Bucks, following a 44-38 first year with the Nets, making the playoffs in both seasons with both teams. Overall, he’s 101-104 as a head coach with a disappointing start to this season in Milwaukee. As a player, he’s one of the best point guards in NBA history with 10 All-Star appearances and five All-NBA first team selections. He won the NBA title with the Mavericks in 2011.
Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors
Kerr makes $5 million a season, and via Luke Walton in 2015-2016, has an incredible 103-18 record as an NBA head coach, having the perfect debut season on the sidelines that ended with an NBA championship in a very dominant playoff run following a 67-win season. Unlike Fisher and Kidd, Kerr spent some time either in a front office or working on television before taking the head coaching job in the Bay Area. As a player, he never made any All-Star games, but he was one of the best shooters around, finishing his career as five-time NBA champion with the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs.
Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers
The 58-year old Stotts from Cedar Falls Iowa makes $5 million a season with the Portland Trail Blazers, a team he’s been coaching since 2012. He has a 155-132 record in Portland, taking the Blazers to the playoffs in the two previous seasons including the conference semifinals in 2014. He’s been an assistant in the NBA since 1994 and from time to time got a head coaching job stint, not doing too well with Milwaukee and Atlanta, making the postseason once in four years. He was an assistant under Rick Carlisle in 2011 when the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA title. He played his college basketball in Oklahoma (an All-Big 8 pick in 1980) and spent his proffesional career in Europe.
Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City Thunder
Donovan is making $6 million a season as he surprised a lot of people by leaving college basketball and the comforts of coaching Florida (has been since 1996), where he won two national titles, and joining the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Thunder are doing well under him with a 28-12 record through the first 40 games. It’s worth noting that Donovan signed with the Orlando Magic back in 2007 but changed his mind after an introductory press conference. The Magic released him from his contract.
Stan Van Gundy, Detroit Pistons
The man the Magic hired at the time instead of Donovan was Van Gundy, who is now making $7 million a season as the head coach and president of basketball operations in Detroit. The Pistons are 53-67 under Van Gundy, doing quite well in his second season with the team. He coached the Magic to an NBA finals appearance and did quite well in Miami too, fired shortly into his third season with the team, that ended with an NBA championship, credit going to Pat Riley on the sidelines.
Rick Carlisle, Dallas Mavericks
Carlisle is making $7 million a season with the Mavericks, who he has been coaching since 2008. He led them to an NBA championship in 2011, and is overall 360-238 as the head coach in Dallas, making the playoffs in all but one season with the team. He previously coached the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers, following a decade of being an assistant in New Jersey, Portland and Indiana. He played for the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Nets in a short playing career, that included being a part of the 1986 Celtics championship team.
Doc Rivers, Los Angeles Clippers
Like Fisher and Kidd, Rivers, another former point guard, didn’t wait too long before getting into the coaching business after retiring. He’s making $10 million a season now with the Clippers as the head coach and president of basketball operations, with an impressive 139-64 record as their head coach, yet still unable to get past the conference semifinals. He previously coached in Boston where he made two NBA finals and won one and before that in Orlando. As a player, he made one All-Star game and played for the Atlanta Hawks, Clippers, Knicks and Spurs, making the NBA finals in 1994.
Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs
Popovich is making $11 million a season in San Antonio. His title might be head coach, but he’s much more than that, now into his 20th season on the sidelines. It began with a 17-47 record in 1996-1997 as the Spurs tanked their way to the first overall pick and Tim Duncan. The rest? Five NBA championships and never winning less than 61% of their games in a season, making the playoffs for 18 consecutive years. The Spurs are 34-6 so far this season, second best record in the NBA.