Erik Spoelstra

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, Salary Cap, Robinson, Herro

Erik Spoelstra will have his first stint with USA Basketball this summer, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press, who writes that the Heat head coach will have a role as the coach of the U.S. Select Team. That squad will be made up primarily of younger players and will practice and scrimmage against the Olympic roster. Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards will be among the players on that Select Team, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN (Twitter link).

While Heat star Jimmy Butler declined an invitation to play for Team USA, his teammate Bam Adebayo will be on the roster, and a number of other Heat players could end up representing other countries in Olympic qualifying tournaments or in the Tokyo Olympics. Spoelstra wanted to get involved as well, as Reynolds writes.

“I really just want to be a part of the program,” the Heat coach said. “I’m always pushing myself to get better in the offseasons; I go visit people and all that stuff. This is going to be a basketball immersion. I mean, the dinners, the team meetings … for where I am right now in my career, I think this is the perfect thing for a summer of development.”

Here’s more out of Miami:

  • The salary cap won’t increase as much by 2022 as was once expected, complicating the Heat’s ability to open up a maximum-salary slot for a 10-year veteran next summer, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. As a result, Jackson wouldn’t be surprised if the club signs some players to multiyear contracts this offseason, giving the club the flexibility to potentially acquire a star via sign-and-trade down the road.
  • Duncan Robinson, a restricted free agent this offseason, said his summer priorities will be to work on developing a reliable two-point shot, getting to the foul line more, and “moving better” on defense. Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald has the details.
  • Based on his conversations with league sources, Ethan Skolnick of Five Reasons Sports (video link) says he thinks there’s a 75% chance the Heat will trade Tyler Herro this offseason. Herro’s name came up in trade rumors prior to the March deadline, but the club was reportedly unwilling to include him in an offer for Kyle Lowry.

Eastern Notes: Butler, Spoelstra, Hayes, Williams, Wizards

Heat star Jimmy Butler recently reflected on his relationship with head coach Erik Spoelstra, a partnership that’s lasted since the team acquired Butler in a sign-and-trade back in July of 2019.

Butler and Spoelstra are known as basketball purists, a competitive player-coach duo that helped lead Miami to its first Finals berth since 2014 last season.

“(We) keep it real with one another,” Butler said of his relationship with Spoelstra, as relayed by Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “We got in a little predicament [Wednesday against the Spurs]. But it’s nothing new. Everything is not all good all the time. But we both want to win, we both have the same agenda.

“So I think he’s helping me grow a tremendous amount, talking about leadership as a player and what to look for with my guys. He’s making sure that I put a lot of trust in my teammates and in my young guys, and I appreciate him for it.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division tonight:

  • Pistons rookie Killian Hayes is still playing with a sense of urgency despite his team being eliminated from playoff contention, as relayed by Rod Beard of The Detroit News. The 19-year-old Hayes was the team’s No. 7 pick in the draft last year and has only appeared in 19 games this season due to injury.
  • The Bulls need more production from rookie Patrick Williams, Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times opines. “I’m trying to be aggressive,’’ Williams said. “But kind of like I said, it’s a learning experience, for sure. We have some more games to go, so hopefully I can continue to get better at that.’’ On the season, Williams has averaged 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in 28.2 minutes per game across 63 starts.
  • The red-hot Wizards have three secret weapons in the middle, Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post writes. Boswell examines the production the club has received from Daniel Gafford, Robin Lopez and Alex Len, all of whom have seen valuable minutes in recent weeks. Washington has been playing without its starting center, Thomas Bryant, since he suffered a partially torn ACL in January.

Southeast Notes: Nunn, McMillan, Butler, Hornets

Kendrick Nunn has reestablished himself as a starter and that’s a big reason for the Heat‘s resurgence, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. During the Heat’s 10-3 stretch, Nunn has averaged 17.1 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.2 APG and 1.3 SPG. Nunn will be headed to restricted free agency after the season.

“Defensively, he has really helped us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This has been a year and a half process of really learning our system, being held accountable to that, growing comfortable and being able to defend different ways.”

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Nate McMillan, who was named interim head coach of the Hawks on Monday, confirmed that Lloyd Pierce talked him into being his replacement, according to Charles Odum of The Associated Press. McMillan initially rebuffed GM Travis Schlenk’s offer to take the reins. “We had a conversation about the team and the move … and he just felt he didn’t think this would happen but he felt I could step in and do a good job with the team,” McMillan said. “He basically felt I should take this opportunity.”
  • Heat swingman Jimmy Butler will miss his second straight game on Tuesday due to right knee inflammation, Chiang tweets. Miami has one more game remaining prior to the All-Star break — a road matchup with the Pelicans on Thursday.
  • The Hornets are the latest team to receive approval to have fans in the stands. According to a team press release, they will host crowds at 15% capacity, or approximately 3,000 fans, beginning on March 13.

Heat Notes: Iguodala, Spoelstra, Herro, Robinson

The Heat could benefit from testing Andre Iguodala at starting power forward for the foreseeable future, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel opined in his recent “Ask Ira” mailbag.

Iguodala, who was acquired by the Heat last February, has started two straight games after coming off the bench in his first three contests. Miami has started five different lineups in five games, seeking to finalize its group while juggling injuries.

The Heat started Jae Crowder alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in their run to the Finals last season, though the team opted not to re-sign Crowder with intentions of maintaining salary-cap flexibility for this season and next summer. The club has also tried Meyers Leonard and Maurice Harkless in that position thus far.

Should the Iguodala experiment not pan out (he’s a former Finals MVP, but he’s also turning 37 this month), Miami could test Jimmy Butler alongside Adebayo and start a player such as Avery Bradley instead. The team could also examine the trade market and pursue players such as P.J. Tucker, LaMarcus Aldridge or Blake Griffin ahead of the March 25 deadline if it so chooses.

There’s more out of Miami tonight:

  • Erik Spoelstra isn’t making any excuses for the team’s poor offensive start to the season, Khobi Price of the Sun Sentinel writes. Miami currently owns the third-worst offensive rating in the league at 101.8, according to Price, though the campaign is still young. “It is so early,” Spoelstra said. “You know what we did today? We worked on it. It’s going to get better. We know it will. But there’s no point in me talking about all the little details.”
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald examines how Tyler Herro has adjusted to his new role as the team’s starting point guard. Goran Dragic unquestionably remains the best point guard on the roster, but Miami has tested Herro with hopes of finding a long-term fit at the position.
  • Ira Winderman ponders in a separate “Ask Ira” mailbag whether another level of play is needed from Duncan Robinson, who’s likely been at the top of opposing teams’ scouting reports this season. Robinson established himself as one of the league’s top three-point shooters last season, with rival teams working to slow him down after a productive campaign. He remains an underrated passer, though his game inside-the-arc is a work in progress.

Heat Notes: Butler, Robinson, Spoelstra, Campus

Heat guard Jimmy Butler has cemented his status as a respected star and leader regardless of the NBA Finals outcome, Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com writes.

Butler, who’s in his first season with Miami, has guided his team to a 14-6 postseason record, trailing the Lakers 3-2 in the Finals despite coping with key injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo since Game 1 of the series. He willed his team to victory in Game 5, pouring in 35 points, 12 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals in over 47 minutes.

“His will to win is remarkable,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said postgame. “To do that in 47-plus minutes and take the challenge on at the other end — every young player coming into this league should study footage on Jimmy Butler.”

Miami has surprised the basketball world these playoffs, sweeping the Pacers in round one, upsetting the Bucks 4-1 in round two and defeating a star-studded Celtics team 4-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals. The team has generated its momentum behind the likes of Butler, Dragic and Adebayo, plus the emergence of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson.

There’s more out of Miami tonight:

  • The Lakers learned in Game 5 that Duncan Robinson can be exceptionally deadly from three-point range once he catches fire, Jeff Zilgitt of USA TODAY writes. Robinson scored a career-high 26 points on 7-for-13 shooting from deep on Friday, further solidifying himself as one of the league’s elite shooters. “Obviously, they’ve done a really good job scheming to take things away, but for me, it’s just about finding a way – whatever it takes to get to my spots,” Robinson said. “If you continue to do that, you’ll have your openings. You’ll be able to find spots here and there. If I catch the ball and can see the rim, it’s going up, pretty much.”

Eastern Notes: Heat, Thibodeau, Bane, Nets

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes his assistants rightfully deserve consideration for head coaching vacancies around the league, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

Both Dan Craig and Chris Quinn have seen their names linked to various teams this year, with Spoelstra backing the idea as a whole.

“I think on our staff we have several future head coaches,” Spoelstra said, as relayed by Winderman. “I don’t want them to just be assistant coaches their whole career. I want them to be able to grow and have opportunities to be head coaches at some point.”

The Heat have previously lost coaches such as Juwan Howard, who left for Michigan, and David Fizdale, who left to become head coach of the Grizzlies and Knicks. Spoelstra credits the coaching tree to team president Pat Riley, a former coach himself.

“I think it’s just the whole Heat program, and that started with Pat,” Spoelstra said. “I think he’s taught us all how to become basketball coaches, at all levels, where you have to learn scouting, offense, defense, tendencies in the league, learning how to coach on the floor and teach.

“That was all demanded from Pat. And then growing, that culture of growing you.”

There’s more out of the Eastern Conference tonight:

  • For the Knicks, it won’t be business as usual with Tom Thibodeau now at the helm, Steve Popper of Newsday opines. Thibodeau is looking to ramp up the team’s offseason workload and work closely with the players, though he’ll have to adhere to the league’s COVID-19 guidelines first. “Obviously, we’d have to follow the protocol that’s set forth by the league, but we will have an opportunity to do the individual stuff with guys that are in the bubble up until October 6,” Thibodeau said. “Then we’re waiting on what we’ll be able to do with the guys that are out of the market. So whatever the league tells us we can do, we will certainly do. And if not we’ll find other ways to get to our development piece whether it’s through film, communications with the players. But we‘re planning on spending a lot of time with our players this offseason.”
  • TCU forward Desmond Bane could be the perfect 3-and-D player for the Nets to draft, Brian Lewis of the New York Post writes. Bane credits current Nets forward Joe Harris for a key part of his game, explaining how he’s studied Harris’ ability to work off screens and make shots off different movements. The Nets have the No. 19 pick in this year’s draft, while Harris is set to reach unrestricted free agency.
  • NetsDaily.com examines the Nets‘ draft situation and which player could be selected, suggesting that Bane, Maryland big man Jalen Smith and others could fit nicely with Brooklyn, a team that’s expected to be at the forefront of contention next season. The draft will take place on Wednesday, November 18.

Heat Notes: Iguodala, Dragic, Spoelstra, Rotation

The Heat list reserve forward Andre Iguodala as probable for Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Iguodala missed the second half of Game 2 on Thursday with tightness in his back. He’s averaging 3.6 PPG and 2.5 RPG in 19.1 MPG during the postseason.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Point guard Goran Dragic, who will be an unrestricted free agent after the season, has sparkled in the playoffs after the club tried to trade him last offseason, according to Michael Lee of The Athletic. Team president Pat Riley wanted to ship Dragic to Dallas in the Jimmy Butler sign-and-trade but the Mavericks weren’t interested.
  • Dwyane Wade believes Erik Spoelstra doesn’t receive enough accolades for his coaching accomplishments, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. “He will not get enough credit for the Big 3 era because people think if you put talent together, you’re just going to win,” Wade said. “That is not true. We had an unbelievable general to lead us to those championships and the success we had, and he’s continuing it.”
  • Spoelstra has identified his top six players and is rolling with them, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel notes. While Spoelstra used 10 players on Thursday, six of them played at least 32 minutes. That’s not unusual in the postseason, Winderman declares in his latest mailbag.
  • A fiery halftime locker room got the Heat refocused during halftime of Game 2, Winderman writes in a separate story.

Mike Budenholzer, Billy Donovan Win Coaches Association Award

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer and Thunder head coach Billy Donovan have been voted the co-coaches of the year by the National Basketball Coaches Association, reports ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

This award, introduced in 2017, isn’t the NBA’s official Coach of the Year award, which is voted on by media members and is represented by the Red Auerbach Trophy. The winner of that award is expected to be announced at some point during the postseason this summer.

The Coaches Association’s version of the award – named after longtime NBCA executive director Michael H. Goldberg – is voted on by the NBA’s 30 head coaches, none of whom can vote for himself.

Budenholzer, who also won the NBCA’s award in 2019, has had even more success with the East-leading Bucks this season. His team has a 54-13 record and – before the season was suspended – had been on pace to surpass the 60 victories that last year’s Milwaukee squad racked up.

As for Donovan, he has exceeded expectations with a Thunder team that was viewed as a borderline playoff contender and a candidate for a full-fledged rebuild. Instead of returning to the lottery following the offseason departures of Russell Westbrook and Paul George, Oklahoma City is 41-24, good for sixth in the Western Conference. A strong finish over the next couple weeks could result in a top-four record in the conference for the Thunder.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, widely viewed as the favorite to win the official Coach of the Year award in 2020, was one vote away from finishing in a three-way tie with Budenholzer and Donovan, per Wojnarowski.

Sources tell ESPN that Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies), Nate McMillan (Pacers), Erik Spoelstra (Heat), and Brad Stevens (Celtics), and Frank Vogel (Lakers) also received votes.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Beal, Wizards, Hornets

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra refused to comment on which staff members might be termed “essential” versus “non-essential” this week, with the NBA likely to prohibit teams from bringing more than roughly 35 people once the league returns in Orlando, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes.

“The only thing I’ll say about that is I don’t want to term anything ‘essential’ or ‘non-essential’ staff,” Spoelstra said. “That’s not fair to any of our staff members. These are extreme circumstances. We will plan and act accordingly when we get to that point.”

The NBA recently announced plans to bring 22 teams to Orlando to restart its 2019/20 season, with games slated to start on July 31 and a 16-team postseason tournament scheduled to commence after eight regular season games.

The league postponed its season indefinitely on March 11, with players just getting back to their respective practice facilities within the past month. Teams are expected to play two or three exhibition games prior to the regular season officially restarting, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania.

“It will be different,” Spoelstra admitted. “It will not be like a normal end-of-September training camp, where you have your preseason and gear up for the regular season and get prepared for an eight-month marathon. That is physically, mentally and emotionally different than this preparation.

“This will be much more of a sprint prep and you’ll have to fast track. Thankfully, we have a group that had a lot of built-in chemistry and enjoyed playing with each other. A lot of the nuances of our success were not necessarily Xs and Os, it was the ability of the guys to read and react off of each other and bring the best off of each other.”

Here are some other notes out of the Southeast Division:

  • Quinton Mayo of NBC Sports Washington explores how Bradley Beal could solidify an all-NBA spot in the restarted season. Beal has enjoyed an impressive campaign to date with the Wizards, averaging a career-high 30.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.1 assists per game in 57 contests.
  • The Wizards are set to enter a complicated situation once the league returns from hiatus, Fred Katz of The Athletic explains. In addition to preparing to fight for a playoff spot after a lengthy layoff, the franchise must choose whom to bring to Orlando and address the health of John Wall. As stated previously, the league has recommended that teams should plan on bringing around 35 people (which naturally includes around 15 players), though an exact number has yet to be finalized.
  • Sam Perley of Hornets.com explains how resiliency and character defined the Hornets’ 2019/20 season, rather than a simple abrupt ending. Charlotte finished the campaign with a 23-42 record, trailing the eighth-seeded Magic by seven games and the ninth-place Wizards by 1.5 games when the season was suspended.

Southeast Notes: Hornets, Jordan, Heat, Wizards

After the final two episodes of The Last Dance aired on Sunday, Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer writes that the second act of Michael Jordan‘s life in basketball has been “the polar opposite” of the first. While ESPN’s 10-part documentary series accurately portrayed Jordan as a wildly successful player on the court, he has been largely unsuccessful as a team owner since gaining control of the Hornets.

As Fowler acknowledges, a team owner doesn’t have nearly the same impact on night-to-night results as a star player would, but Jordan has been heavily involved in the Hornets’ personnel decisions. Since Jordan took over as the organization’s majority owner, Charlotte has just three winning seasons and hasn’t advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs.

Fowler wonders if Jordan has any more appreciation for former Bulls GM Jerry Krause than he did during his playing days, since the current Hornets owner could have used his own version of Krause since arriving in Charlotte.

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • There are teams in the NBA that wouldn’t be significantly affected if the NBA’s cap projection for 2020/21 (and potentially 2021/22) dips by a few million dollars. However, the Heat would feel the impact of such a change. Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald examines how the NBA’s new financial reality could alter the club’s approach to free agency in 2020 and 2021.
  • Two sources close to Heat players praised the way the franchise has been handling the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Team president Pat Riley and head coach Erik Spoelstra have both remained in constant contact with players and have advised them to put their health and families’ health first, Jackson writes. “Guys consistently have been getting attended to,” one source told The Herald.
  • Due to a positive trend in COVID-19 cases in D.C., Washington’s stay-at-home order may no longer extend through at least June 8, as previously anticipated. That could be good news for the Wizards, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington, who notes that the team is still waiting for government clearance to reopen its practice facility.