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Comparison of NBA Finals coaches Jason Kidd and Joe Mazzulla in terms of salaries and career earnings

The NBA Finals are set! Starting June 6, the Boston Celtics will face the Dallas Mavericks to see who will be crowned NBA champions in the 2023-24 season. We still have a few days until the action starts on the court, but in the meantime, there's plenty of exciting entertainment to keep you entertained.

The Celtics are seeking their 18th championship in franchise history, which would break an NBA record. They also have the league's only $300 million player in Jaylen Brown. The Mavs, on the other hand, are playing in just their third NBA Finals in team history (and the first against a team other than the Miami Heat). Led by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, the No. 5 seed Mavs are only the second Western Conference team to reach the Finals without having home-court advantage in a single series, the Houston Rockets doing so in 1995.

And there's some great revenge, too. Kyrie Irving left Boston in a very ignominious way when he was with the Celtics, and he'd like to get even with his former team. This final also features two key players traded from struggling teams to title contenders. The Celtics acquired Derrick White last year from the San Antonio Spurs, who finished in the bottom five each of the last two seasons. And the Mavericks got PJ Washington in a mid-season trade from the perpetually disappointing Charlotte Hornets.

All of these things are exciting, but for the purposes of this story, let's look at the two head coaches on the sidelines: Jason Kidd and Joe Mazzulla.

Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd (Joshua Gateley/Getty Images)

How did Jason Kidd get here?

Kidd entered the NBA Draft after two seasons at California University and was selected by the Mavericks with the No. 2 overall pick in the NBA Draft. He spent 19 years in the NBA, playing for the Dallas Mavericks (twice), Phoenix Suns, New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks.

The season after his resignation, Kidd landed a job as coach of the Brooklyn Nets. He led the team to a 44-38 record and an upset win in the first round of the playoffs. That summer, the Milwaukee Bucks traded two draft picks to bring Kidd to their bench. He helped turn the team from a 15-win team to a postseason berth in his first year. However, the Bucks were never able to achieve sustained success, remaining around .500 for most of Kidd's tenure. He was fired midway through the 2017-18 season.

After a year and a half off, Kidd joined the Los Angeles Lakers as an assistant starting in the 2019-20 season. Kidd earned his second NBA championship ring when the Lakers won the 2020 title. His experience with the Lakers earned him another head coaching job when the Mavs hired him in June 2021. His greatest success as a coach came with Dallas, where he won 52 games and reached the Western Conference Finals in 2021-22. This season, he won 50 games and made the Finals.

How did Joe Mazzulla get here?

Mazzulla has been coaching even longer. His first stops were as an assistant at Division II colleges, including Glenville State (2011-13) and Fairmont State (2013-16). Mazzulla then took a job as an assistant with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G League and spent one season there before returning as Fairmont State's head coach. He posted a 43-17 record in two seasons and reached the NCAA Division II tournament in his second year.

His success at the college level caught the attention of the Celtics and the team hired him as an assistant starting in June 2019. He spent three years as an assistant and was interviewed for the Utah Jazz in 2022. It turned out that his next job as a head coach would fall into his lap.

A few days before training camp was to begin for the 2022-23 season, the Celtics suspended then-head coach Ime Udoka for the 2022-23 season. The team named Mazzulla as the new head coach. Despite minimal preparation time, Mazzulla and the Celtics got off to a brilliant 18-4 start. The momentum continued into the playoffs, with the Celtics making it to the Eastern Conference Finals and nearly completing an unprecedented 3-0 comeback before losing to the Heat in seven games. In two seasons, Mazzulla's Celtics are 121-43.

How much money did Jason Kidd earn during his playing career?

Kidd had a long NBA career. His 19 seasons in the league are among the longest of any player, and he ultimately appeared in 1,391 regular-season games and 158 playoff games. At age 37, he was a key player when the Mavs won the franchise's only title.

In his rookie season, Kidd earned just over $2.77 million. In his final season, he earned about $3.09 million. In each of the 17 seasons in between, he earned more than that amount. His most lucrative years were with the then-New Jersey Nets; in his six seasons with the team, he earned $80,184,500. His second season with the Mavericks was also his highest-earning season, when he earned $21,372,000 in the 2008-09 season. From 2007 to 2012 (Kidd's return to Dallas), he earned $67,831,500.

In total, Kidd earned $187,675,468 as a player, according to Basketball Reference, which puts him 56th on the career earnings list. It's a testament to Kidd's longevity that he's still one of the NBA's top earners despite never drawing one of the league's highest salaries. It's also a sign of how much the salary cap has increased. Kidd's $21.372 million salary – the highest of his career – would put him 71st on this season's top earners, between Mikal Bridges and Myles Turner.

How much money did Joe Mazzulla earn during his playing career?

That question is pretty easy to answer. Mazzulla played in college before name, image, and likeness contracts (NIL contracts) existed, so he was never able to earn NIL money. Despite solid team performances, Mazzulla never became a star during his playing days at West Virginia. He turned down a job at Nova Southeastern after going undrafted in hopes of finding a spot as a professional player. He didn't find one, so he took his job at Glenville State, where he began his coaching career the same year he graduated from college.

So the simple answer is: Mazzulla earned $0 as a player.

How much does Jason Kidd earn as a coach?

Kidd is the NBA's sixth-highest-paid coach at $8 million. He agreed to a contract extension during the team's second-round matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Although the terms of that deal are not yet public, Kidd will likely get a nice raise.

He is already earning more than he did in his last job as coach. The Bucks initially paid Kidd $5 million a year before offering him a contract extension worth $18 million over three seasons.

How much does Joe Mazzulla earn as a coach?

Because Mazzulla was promoted fairly quickly, he and the Celtics didn't have a chance to negotiate a longer-term contract extension. Shams Charania of The Athletic reported last summer that Mazzulla has $14 million and three years left on his contract. That means Mazzulla is making about $4.7 million this season.

Who has more at stake?

This is always a stupid question, but NBA fans love to discuss it.

If we had to choose, we would lean a little more towards Mazzulla and the Celtics. This team has been around before and has given its star players generous long-term contracts, even more than the Mavs.

We're just hoping for exciting games. With a lot of star power and a lot of depth on both sides, we should be in for a classic series!