Being an executive in modern NBA is not the same as it used to be. The game’s design and dynamics involved in winning games have received several revolutions. What used to be a big man’s game has transformed into a faster, free flowing, scoring game where ball movement and sharp shooting tend to prevail. Defense will always be key but the days of pounding the ball inside are all but gone. As such team roster construction has evolved and so too has the role of general manager.
GMs are always not far away from controversy as they (and coaches) are generally the ones people point fingers at if a team is unsuccessful. To be an NBA GM means rising above the pack and knowing what the game is all about in its most present state.
A General Manager’s annual salary is usually hard to determine. Their wages change sporadically as their career timelines do. Other factors to consider are bonuses, commissions and rewards, as their walk to the bank largely depends on their success both in the board room and on the court.
So, who leads the pack fiscally? Here are the five best-paid GMs in the NBA
Pat Riley is the Miami Heat Team President and GM. He is proclaimed as one of the most prosperous and decorated coaches of all time. His notable achievements include being named NBA coach of the year three times; 1990, 1993 and 1997, and having served as head coach of an NBA all-star team nine times. He was named one of the greatest coaches in history in 1996. He is also the first North American sports personality to win a championship as a player, coach and executive.
He played both basketball and football although chose to go pro with basketball. He was drafted in 1967 by the San Diego Rockets, and this was the start of his pro basketball career. He shifted camp to the Los Angeles Lakers in 1970 and won the 1972 NBA title with them.
After retirement, he returned to the NBA in 1977 broadcasting for the Lakers. His time at the booths was short-lived, and he joined the coaching staff. As the coach, he led the Lakers to four consecutive finals appearances winning in 1982 and 1985. He coached a star-studded Lakers team that included Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy winning his 3rd and 4th NBA titles with them in 1988. He was named coach of the year in 1988 but later controversially stepped down to join the New York Knicks. He won coach of the year later in 1993 and led the Knicks to the 1994 eastern conference finals after defeating arch-rivals the Lakers but then lost to the Houston Rockets.
He left to join the Miami Heat in 1995 after resigning through fax as head coach and team president. His success continued in Miami, leading them to their first Eastern Conference final in their history. In 2003 he stepped down to take up an executive role full time. He, however, regained head coach status in 2006 leading them to the finals that year. Later in 2008 he again stepped down as head coach and resumed GM and presidential duties. As president, Riley signed huge players in LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade among many others, winning the 2012 and 2013 NBA title as a result.
With a net worth of over $80 million, Riley is the best paid GM expected to take home well over $11 million by the end of 2016.
R.C. Bufford is the General Manager for the San Antonio Spurs. Most recent awards include the NBA Executive of the year award for both the 2013-2014 and the 2014-2015 seasons. He played in college for the Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. He received his degree from Friends University. He played at the University of Kansas and was a coach with the Jayhawks when they won the 1988 NCAA title.
He joined Larry Brown’s coaching staff in 1988 as an assistant coach. He was an assistant for four years including the 1989-1990 and 1990-1991 when the Spurs won back to back mid-west division titles. In 1993-1994 seasons he moved to Florida University, and came back to Spurs in 1994 and has been in the team since then. During his early years at Spurs, he was hired as the Spurs head scout and later promoted to VIP/assistant GM from there. He won 5 NBA titles, four as the General Manager. He also won the 2013-2014 NBA Basketball Executive of the year award.
Bufford’s bank account is inflating every year, and it is not hard to see why. He is a basketball game changer who transformed the Spurs to the leading franchise it is now. The Spurs, with an estimated net worth of $527 million, are expected to hand Bufford no less than $9 million this year, owing to the success of the team in the 2015-2016 season. This figure could rise significantly based on the franchise revenues and bonuses.
Robert Michael ‘’Bob’’ Myers is the current General Manager for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Born in Dansville California, he attended Monte Vista High School. He played UCLA college basketball despite interest in rowing while pursuing his Economics and Business degree. He played for the UCLS Bruins from 1993 to 1997 and was a member of the NCAA championship team while on an athletic scholarship.
He interned for prominent sports agent Arn Tellem and later was promoted to a full-time agent specializing in contract negotiation and player recruitment. Tellem and Associates converted to SFX sports, and he was named the Vice President. He spent 14 years as an agent, the last at Wasserman Sports Group negating contracts worth well over 500 million dollars.
In 2011 He began his General Manager career with the Golden State Warriors in what would turn out to be a brilliant move. He led the Warriors to the most successful re-season finish in 36 years. In 2015 he was named the NBA Football Executive of the Year.
Having signed a contract extension with the Warriors till the 2017-2018 season ends, Bob will take home a cool $8 million in salary and bonuses by the end of the year.
Born January 10, 1965, Neil Olshey is the General Manager of the [Portland Trailblazers. Olshey moved to New York to launch his acting career. This feat landed him roles on All My Children, Loving and One Life to Live, before moving to Los Angeles. In L.A he worked as a Player Development Director.
In his early years, he worked as an assistant coach at Artesia High School and also organized Pre-draft training camps for the NBA. In 2003 he joined the L o Angeles Clippers as the director of player personnel. Later in 2004 he was promoted to assistant head coach. Following success on and off the court, he was promoted to assistant GM.
He appeared as himself on the Season 7 of IFC series ‘’Portlandia’’.
His salary is unknown but with bonuses and commissions in the region of $450,000 last year and a net worth well over $50 million, his salary this year should clock $6.5 million; a figure that could change depending on the team’s performance.
David Griffin is the General Manager for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He began his basketball career playing for the Phoenix Suns for 17 seasons. In 1995 he graduated with a Political Science Degree from Arizona State University. He spent his last three years at the Suns as president of Basketball Operations from 2007.
In 2010, he was appointed the Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and he has been with the team since. He was later promoted and was named acting General Manager after dismissing Chris Grant from the same position. The GM status was made permanent on 12th May 2014. Awards followed, and he was runner-up for NBA Executive Award for the 2014-2015 season. H won the 2016 NBA Finals with the Cavaliers, seeing off a stubborn Golden State side in seven games.
Griffin just started to break the bank when LeBron James rejoined the Cavaliers, enjoying team success leading to commissions and bonuses that made him a top tier GM. His estimated annual salary is well over $5.8 million, and this value is highly deserved owing to his exploits with the team this year.