Asked whether he, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili would return next season, Greg Popovich said, “We’ll probably come back. Paycheck is pretty good.” When that was met with laughter, Popovich said, “You think I’m lying?”
The players were much less revealing – perhaps because neither Duncan ($10,361,446 salary this season) nor Ginobili ($7 million) is as financially tied to the Spurs.
Word is he contemplated retirement after last season’s championship with more seriousness than any of us on the outside realized, but Pop didn’t just agree to keep coaching. He consented to sign that long-term deal which, according to industry insiders, pays in the $11 million range annually.
Popovich, who’s also the Spurs’ president, was believed to be making an NBA-high $8 million per season before signing a contract extension last summer. If Popovich is paid $11 million now, Tony Parker is the only player on San Antonio’s roster making more (though Kawhi Leonard will soon follow).
That’s just so far ahead of the field for coaches’ salaries, though Popovich certainly deserves it. He has helped mold the Spurs into an annual contender, developing role players and lengthening the careers of his stars by resting them.
Will Popovich’s high salary lead to raises across the league? Maybe.
I think there’s an NBA-coaching salary bubble right now. With revenue pouring in but the luxury tax more punitive than ever, teams both have a lot of money to spend but are limited in their willingness to spend it on players. So, a lot of that cash is finding its way to coaches and other support staff.
As the salary cap skyrockets in coming seasons, it will be easier to invest heavily in players without exceeding the luxury tax. Then, coaches’ salaries could stagnate or even decline.
For now, though, Popovich is raking it in.