Doc Rivers Contract: Firing Coach May Cost 76ers $16 Million
Doc Rivers is no longer the head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, yet the former NBA player will still be drawing a paycheck from the organization for the next two years. The team parted ways with one of the highest-paid NBA coaches in the NBA with two years remaining on his five-year deal, which means he should get the remainder of the money even though he is no longer coaching the team.
Doc Rivers contract
While NBA coaches aren’t paid at the same astronomical levels that superstar players are, the highest-paid NBA coaches do make millions of dollars a year.
After 14 years as an NBA point guard, Rivers retired in 1996.
While precise reports regarding players’ contracts weren’t available during Rivers’ NBA career, Basketball Reference estimates the guard made around $8.4 million during his playing career. His career earnings as a coach have since dwarfed that number.
Rivers got his first head coaching job in 1999-00 with the Orlando Magic and has also led the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Clippers, and 76ers. In 24 seasons on the bench, Rivers has amassed a 1,097-763 regular season record, 19 playoff appearances with a 111-104 postseason record, and one NBA championship with the Celtics in 2008.
Coaches’ contracts also aren’t reported with the same accuracy as player pacts. However, Spotrac does have information on two of the more recent Doc Rivers contracts.
In 2011, the Boston Celtics signed a five-year, $35 million deal ($7 million per season) which transferred to the Clippers when the team traded him in 2013. Rivers then signed two different extensions with LA, but those values are unknown.
When Rivers went to Philadelphia, he got a five-year, $40 deal ($8 million per season). He completed three of those five years before mutually parting ways in the 2023 offseason after losing in the playoffs to the Celtics.
Rivers and the 76ers may have reached some type of deal on reducing the amount owed to the now-former coach. But coaches’ contracts are often fully guaranteed. This means the team will still owe Doc around $16 million in the next two years.
Only three of the top seven highest-paid NBA coaches survived 2022-23 NBA season
In 2021, Sportico released the list of the highest-paid coaches in North American professional sports.
As you’d imagine, NFL coaches dominated the list, with several college football (Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher, Dabo Swinney) and one college basketball coach (John Calipari) in the mix.
Seven NBA head coaches were in the top 25.
And as we reach the end of the 2022-23 NBA season, only three of those seven coaches are still employed by the team that paid them.
The list looked like this:
- Gregg Popovich, San Antonio Spurs: $11.5 million
- Steve Kerr, Golden State Warriors: $9.5 million
- Eric Spoelstra, Miami Heat: $8.5 million
- Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers: $8.5 million (per Sportico)
- Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks: $8 million
- Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors: $8 million
- Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets: $8 million
The Nets parted ways with Nash early in the season, firing him on Nov. 1 after a 2-5 start to the campaign. Nurse and the Raptors lost to the Chicago Bulls in the 2023 play-in game, and the coach lost his job shortly after. And the Bucks fired Budenholzer after a first-round playoff exit despite having won a title in 2021.
That leaves the three highest-paid NBA coaches — Popovich, Kerr, and Spoelstra — as the only three from this list left. Spoelstra has the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, and with nine championships between them, Popovich and Kerr aren’t going anywhere until they decide to leave.