Throughout the years, NBA trades have been a big part of what makes the league exciting — and borderline crazy. Trades and even NBA trade rumors have been a source of both jubilation and heartbreak for many fans. Meanwhile, for the association, trades have both built and destroyed championship teams.
Some of the biggest trades in recent history include Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas, Kobe Bryant to the Lakers, and the swap of Luka and Trae during draft day. Player trades truly rock the NBA world, but what about coaches?
Does the NBA allow coaches to be traded? To put it simply, yes, NBA teams can trade their coaches — but it’s a little different from players.
Why Do NBA Coaches Get Traded?
In this age of player empowerment, it isn’t unusual to see superstars demand to be traded away. Most recent examples of this are the trades that followed the request of James Harden, Paul George, and Anthony Davis. These players demand these trades for personal reasons like wanting a change in scenery or wanting to pair up with other fellow superstars elsewhere.
On the other hand, a trade can also be a practical move for NBA teams. By trading away pieces, teams can free up their salary cap and cut down on taxes. After all, the NBA is a business, and running an NBA team requires occasional bold moves to keep the organization afloat.
NBA trades involving coaches also follow the same principles. Like players, coaches may need a change in scenery and personnel. NBA coaches are also pieces that teams can utilize to build their squad even further.
However, unlike the players, NBA coaches cannot be traded for active players because an NBA coach’s salary isn’t a part of the team’s salary cap. With that said, teams may only trade their coaches for cash considerations and draft picks as per NBA rules.
Can a Coach Refuse to Be Traded?
Refusal to be traded is another thing that differentiates coach trades from player trades. NBA players can only refuse trades if they have a no-trade clause in their contract — which doesn’t usually happen.
On the other hand, an essential requirement for trades involving coaches is their consent to the deal. If a coach refuses to be traded, the team won’t be able to proceed with the transaction. However, coaches can be fired by the team, so technically, the team also has leverage.
How Much Do Coaches Make on Average?
Like any job, salaries for NBA coaches depend on their experience and the team they’ll be coaching. For obvious reasons, head coaches also earn higher than members of their coaching staff.
NBA players are regulated by the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), but coaches are not. So, technically, coaches can earn more than the organization’s players because their salaries are not limited. Coaches make a minimum of $25,000 per game. If they coach all 82 games of the season, that’s around 2.05 Million in a season. Of course, that’s the minimum figure, not counting bonuses, pre-season games, and other paid responsibilities.
As of the latest season, the average salary of an NBA coach was around $3.5 Million. San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, who happens to be the winningest NBA coach in history, is the highest-paid coach with a reported salary of $11 Million. Multi-titled Golden State Warriors head coach, Steve Kerr, is not far behind, with a reported salary of $10 Million.
5 NBA Coaches that Have Been Traded
So, who are the most recent coaches that have been traded in the NBA?
The first official instance of a coach trade happened with Mike Dunleavy Sr. back in the 90s. In 1990, Dunleavy was the coach of an LA Lakers team that saw the departure of legendary coach Pat Riley during the twilight years of Magic Johnson’s dynasty. After two seasons in LA, Dunleavy left for the Bucks, and the Lakers were compensated in the form of two future second-round picks.
Pat Riley is undeniably one of the greatest NBA coaches of all time. He coached Magic Johnson’s legendary team to four championships in the 80s and led Miami Heat with Dwyane Wade and Shaq to a championship in 2006.
However, Pat Riley’s illustrious career wasn’t safe from controversy. In 1991, Riley moved from the Lakers to the Knicks and left again for the Miami Heat in 1995. The sour breakup of Riley and the Knicks prompted the NBA to investigate the Heat for tampering. In the end, the Heat compensated the Knicks with a 1996 first-round pick and a million dollars, and that’s how Pat Riley’s trade was legitimized.
Stan Van Gundy
Stan Van Gundy is another high-profile coach who experienced being dealt with in the NBA. The trade happened in 2007 when Van Gundy left the Miami Heat for the Orlando Magic. In exchange for Van Gundy, Orlando sent two second-round picks to Miami for the 2008 draft. Fortunately for Van Gundy and Orlando, this trade ended up being a good move as it led to multiple playoff appearances and a Finals appearance vs. Kobe’s Lakers in 2009.
To this day, Doc Rivers remains one of the most famous coaches in the NBA. After winning the Boston Celtics a ring in 2008, Rivers’ coaching prowess became established in the league. In 2013, the LA Clippers acquired Doc Rivers from the Celtics for a 2015 first-round pick. Doc, with the likes of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, would end up putting the Clippers on the NBA map.
As a player, Jason Kidd is undeniably one of the greatest of all time in his position. The year 2013 would be a pivotal year for Kidd as this was the year he announced his retirement and was given the role of the head coach by the Brooklyn Nets. Jason Kidd was traded three times as a player, so getting traded as a coach was a familiar situation for him. In 2014, the Bucks acquired Kidd for two second-round picks.
Wrapping Things Up: Does the NBA Allow Coaches to be Traded?
The NBA trade scene is a big part of why many people follow the league. Fans, executives, and even players look forward to the latest trade news from their respective associations. Players are the ones that are usually traded in the league, but NBA coaches may also be dealt with.
NBA coaches steer their teams to championships and are well-compensated for that. On average, coaches earn around $3.5 Million depending on their experience and accolades. While trading NBA coaches are allowed by the league, they are only allowed to be dealt with draft picks and cash considerations.
While high-profile player trades have shocked and elated many through the years, trades involving NBA coaches can also play a significant factor in a team’s success.
We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.