Longest-Tenured NBA Head Coaches

The turnover in the NBA’s coaching ranks reached a high point during the 2016 offseason, when 10 teams – one-third of the league – named new permanent head coaches. Since then, however, none of the NBA’s 30 teams have made a coaching change.

The current streak without a firing is an impressive one, and is perhaps reflective of the prevailing belief that head coaches need time to find their footing — and that significant value should be placed on continuity. It’s no coincidence that many of the NBA’s most highly-regarded franchises, including the Spurs, Heat, and Mavericks, feature some of the league’s longest-tenured head coaches.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we won’t see some changes in the head coaching ranks during – or after – the 2017/18 season, but for the first time since Hoops Rumors’ inception, our annual list of the league’s longest-tenured head coaches doesn’t include any new hires.

Here are the NBA’s longest-tenured head coaches, sorted by the date they were hired:

  1. Gregg Popovich, Spurs: December 1996
  2. Erik Spoelstra, Heat: April 2008
  3. Rick Carlisle, Mavericks: May 2008
  4. Dwane Casey, Raptors: June 2011
  5. Terry Stotts, Trail Blazers: August 2012
  6. Mike Budenholzer, Hawks: May 28, 2013
  7. Steve Clifford, Hornets: May 29, 2013
  8. Doc Rivers, Clippers: June 2013
  9. Brad Stevens, Celtics: July 2013
  10. Brett Brown, Sixers: August 2013
  11. Stan Van Gundy, Pistons: May 14, 2014
  12. Steve Kerr, Warriors: May 14, 2014
  13. Quin Snyder, Jazz: June 2014
  14. Jason Kidd, Bucks: July 2014
  15. Billy Donovan, Thunder: April 2015
  16. Alvin Gentry, Pelicans: May 2015 (remained Warriors assistant through playoffs)
  17. Fred Hoiberg, Bulls: June 2, 2015
  18. Michael Malone, Nuggets: June 15, 2015
  19. Tyronn Lue, Cavaliers: January 2016
  20. Earl Watson, Suns: February 2016
  21. Kenny Atkinson, Nets: April 17, 2016 (remained Hawks assistant through Atlanta’s playoff run)
  22. Tom Thibodeau, Timberwolves: April 20, 2016
  23. Scott Brooks, Wizards: April 26, 2016
  24. Luke Walton, Lakers: April 29, 2016 (remained Warriors assistant through playoffs)
  25. Dave Joerger, Kings: May 9, 2016
  26. Nate McMillan, Pacers: May 16, 2016
  27. Frank Vogel, Magic: May 20, 2016
  28. David Fizdale, Grizzlies: May 29, 2016
  29. Mike D’Antoni, Rockets: June 1, 2016
  30. Jeff Hornacek, Knicks: June 2, 2016
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9 thoughts on “Longest-Tenured NBA Head Coaches

  1. Wow so is exert single coach gonna keep their job? That’s gotta be a first

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    • Grant

      Last season was the first time in a very long time where that happened. I’d be very surprised if this was the case again with Hoiberg, Hornacek, Gentry on the hot seat and guys like Brown, McMillan, and Van Gundy very much a bad season away from possibly being fired. Also with Doc giving up his FO role maybe he is feeling the heat too

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      • acarneglia

        I’d also put Clifford from Charlotte on the chopping block if the Hornets miss the playoffs after the retooling they made to their roster.

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      • Philly Fan

        Hoiberg will stay since the Bulls front office have embraced a rebuild. Brown is a definite stay for Philly because of what he’s done with player development through the last few years. McMillan will also stay with the Pacers rebuilding.

        I agree with the rest of your list and I would actually add Casey if the Raptors have an underwhelming season. Rumor is Jerry Stackhouse, who was G-league coach of the year, is set to replace Casey when he’s done.

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  2. theeterps

    This is wild. Nice piece Luke. Crazy to think Pop has been the Spurs coach for 21 seasons and Spo is next longest at just 9.

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  3. I’d say Brad Stevens has the best chance of approaching Pops status.

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    • gomerhodge71
      gomerhodge71

      Like everything else it will depend on money/contract, but Stevens is approaching Bill Bellichick/Terry Francona status in Boston in that he is hugely respected, unlike most coaches/managers.

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      • Connorsoxfan

        Yes, but keep in mind Francona was here for less than 10 years. When things are good in Boston, they’re good. But when things are bad, they suck.

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