They say behind every man there’s a strong woman, but in the NBA’s case, next to every great head coach, is an even greater assistant coach. At times, assistant coaches don’t get the recognition they deserve and they tend to be overshadowed by head coaches. But since it all comes down to the money, how much do assistants really get paid to sit on the bench and do all the work?
The NBA tends to be secretive about the current salaries of assistant coaches. Besides, they aren’t even allowed to speak to the media because they probably know about all the NBA’s dirty laundry. Well, maybe.
Here’s what we know: Mike Malone, now the head coach of the Sacramento Kings was said to be the highest-earning assistant last season, banking $750,000 with the Golden State Warriors. After Brooklyn Nets head coach Jason Kidd, let go of Lawrence Frank late last year, reports swirled that he was the league’s top-paid assistant in the NBA for the 2013-2014 season. Frank was given a four-year deal worth more than $1 million a season. The Pistons still owe Frank $4 million for next year following his discharge after two seasons, but his salary with Brooklyn will be deducted from Detroit.
Here’s a list of 10 popular assistant coaches who were players before they donned suits and clipboards and who are probably making significantly less money than they once did on the court.
10. Ime Udoka – San Antonio Spurs – Career Player Salary: $3.9 million
Seen sitting to the left of Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, Ome Udoka is probably most known for his romance with actress Nia Long, because he made less than $4 million in the NBA. The small forward got his start in the league in 2003 after he signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was waived. During the 2006-2007 season he signed a free agency contract with the Portland Trail Blazers for $744,551 for one year. For the remainder of his professional playing time in the league, he continued to sign free agency deals. Udoka ended his career with the San Antonio Spurs after 2009-2011 with a $264,232 contract.
9. Popeye Jones – Indiana Pacers – Career Player Salary: $17.2 million
Jones has spent more than 10 years in the NBA. Initially, he was drafted by the Houston Rockets in the 2nd round (41st pick overall) of the 1992 NBA Draft. A year later, he was traded by the Rockets to the Dallas Mavericks and signed a three-year contract. He made the most money during 2000-2001 while with the Washington Wizards, banking $2,812,500. He finished his career with Golden State after the 2003-2004 season making $1,070,000. Overall, Jones earned $17,261,288 in his career.
8. Brian Scalabrine – Golden State Warriors – Career Player Salary: $20.1 million
Brian Scalabrine (right) was selected by the New Jersey Nets during the second round of the 2001 NBA draft. In 2005, he signed a five-year $15 million contract with the Boston Celtics. After being traded to the Chicago Bulls and signing with an Italian team during the NBA lockout in 2011, he joined Mark Jackson and the Golden State Warriors in July 2013. His current salary is $854,389.
7. Tyronn Lue – Los Angeles Clippers – Career Player Salary: $21.3 million
In 1999, the small 6’0 guard was drafted 23rd out of Nebraska and spent 11 years playing in the NBA. During the start of his career, Tyronn Lue signed a four-year rookie contract with the Lakers for 2001-2002, but the team declined the option. He then signed a $3.57 million contract with Washington in 2011 and a $3.15 million deal with Orlando in 2003. After a few trades from 2004-2005, Lue signed with Atlanta for $10.5 million over three years. Towards the end of his career, he signed a $2.25 million contract with Milwaukee. His last NBA season was with the Orlando Magic in 2009. Lue now serves as assistant coach for the Los Angeles Clippers.
6. Terry Porter – Minnesota Timberwolves – Career Player Salary: $24.6 million
Compared to other NBA players, Terry Porter didn’t earn a huge multi-million dollar contract when he got his start in the league. He entered the NBA as a Portland Trail Blazer and signed a $151,000 deal for the 1985-1986 season. He spent his career with only three other teams–The Minnesota Timberwolves, Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs and ended his professional basketball tenure with the Spurs, inking a $2,400,000 deal with the the team for 2001-2002. Porter was hired as the head coach of the of the Milwaukee Bucks on August 6, 2003. Currently he is an assistant with the Timberwolves. His total salary playing in the NBA was $24,6661,700.
5. Sam Cassell – Washington Wizards – Career Player Salary: $58.4 million
While not one of the most attractive players in the NBA, Sam Cassell had some skills on the court. He began his career with the Houston Rockets in 1993, signing a $650,000 contract. Though it may not seem like much, ten years later he was banking more than $5 million with the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team he only spent two years with. Cassell retired as a Sacramento King after the 2008-2009 season with a contract worth only $1,262,275. His total career salary was $58,419,775. In 2009, he joined the Washington Wizards as an assistant coach.
4. Nick Van Exel – Milwaukee Bucks – Career Player Salary: $74.4 million
Nick Van Exel was selected by the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the 1993 NBA Draft. In his first year with the Lakers he made $1,000,000 and he stayed with the teams for five years making a total of $8,700,000. He made the most money while playing for Golden State with a salary of $11,956,625. His total career salary was $74,408,867.
3. Patrick Ewing – Charlotte Bobcats – Career Player Salary: $119.9 million
Patrick Ewing made almost $120 million while playing in the NBA. He earned his highest salary playing for the New York Knicks from 1997-1998, making $20,500,000. Ewing did not end his career with Knickerbockers, but finished with the Orlando Magic in 2003, where he earned $1,850,000. Four years later, he became an assistant coach for the Magic in 2007. Currently the 51-year-old NBA veteran is the assistant coach for the Charlotte Bobcats where he has a reported net worth of $45 million.
2. Rasheed Wallace – Detroit Pistons – Career Player Salary: $150.4 million
Rasheed Wallace joined the Pistons’ coaching staff this year with a two-year deal after he retired at the end of last season with the New York Knicks. After a 17-year basketball career that included tenures on teams like Atlanta, Portland, Washington, Boston and Detroit, Maurice Cheeks hired him to replace Lawrence Frank. He’s currently making $854,389 with one year left remaining in his contract.
1. Juwan Howard – Miami Heat – Career Player Salary: $151.4 million
At Michigan, Juwan Howard was part of the Fab Five recruiting class of 1991 and began his NBA career as the 5th overall pick in the 1994 Draft when he was selected by the then-Washington Bullets. He became the first player to receive a $100 million contract. Between 1996 and 2006, he earned a salary of $15 million per year. In 2010, Howard signed a one-year deal with the Miami Heat at the veteran’s minimum salary, which was $1,352,181. Although he was only paid the minimum by the Heat, he was still cashing in the final year of his four-year buyout from the Timberwolves. In 2013, he earned a reported $214,758 and ended his career as part of the Miami Heat. Head coach Eric Spoelstra added Howard to his coaching staff shortly after his retirement.