Erik Spoelstra

D’Antoni Captures Coach Of The Year Award

Mike D’Antoni was named the NBA’s Coach of the Year, which was announced on the TNT awards show Monday night.

D’Antoni led the Rockets to the third-best record in the Western Conference at 55-27 in his first year with the club. The Rockets finished 41-41 in 2015/16. He also won the award in 2005 when he patrolled the sidelines for the Suns.

The Spurs’ Gregg Popovich and Heat’s Erik Spoelstra were the other finalists. The Hoops Rumors staff gave two of the five votes to D’Antoni.

NBA Reveals Award Finalists

The NBA is in the process of revealing its finalists for each of the major year-end awards on TNT, the winners of which will be announced at the official award show on June 26.

Below is an ongoing list that we’ll update as the NBA on TNT crew reveals more.

Most Improved Player of the Year
Giannis Antetokounmpo
Rudy Gobert
Nikola Jokic

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MIP


Sixth Man of the Year
Eric Gordon
Andre Iguodala
Lou Williams

Hoops Rumors Analysis: Sixth Man


Rookie of the Year
Malcolm Brogdon
Joel Embiid
Dario Saric

Hoops Rumors Analysis: ROY


Coach of the Year
Mike D’Antoni
Gregg Popovich
Erik Spoelstra

Hoops Rumors Analysis: COTY


Defensive Player of the Year
Rudy Gobert
Draymond Green
Kawhi Leonard

Hoops Rumors Analysis: DPOY


Most Valuable Player of the Year
James Harden
Kawhi Leonard
Russell Westbrook

Hoops Rumors Analysis: MVP

D’Antoni, Spoelstra Share New Coaching Award

Houston’s Mike D’Antoni and Miami’s Erik Spoelstra have been announced as co-recipients of the NBA Coaches Association’s first Coach of the Year Award, tweets Marc Stein of ESPN.com. The award is determined by a vote of NBA coaches and is named for Michael H. Goldberg, the longtime director of the organization.

D’Antoni led the Rockets to a 55-27 record and the third seed in the West in his first year in Houston. He turned James Harden into a point guard and unleashed a powerful offense that set a record for most 3-pointers made in a season.

Spoelstra rallied the Heat after a terrible start and led them to a 41-41 record, just missing a playoff berth on a tie-breaker. He was able to reconfigure the lineup in Miami after the loss of Dwyane Wade to free agency and Chris Bosh to a blood clot condition.

The media’s choice for Coach of the Year will be announced at the NBA’s awards show on June 26th.

Southeast Notes: Heat, Plumlee, Hawks

Despite seemingly messy breakups with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade and missing the playoffs this season, the Heat are not concerned with difficulties of luring free agents to South Beach, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes.  As Jackson notes, Bosh and the Heat seem to be on good terms despite the controversial circumstances surrounding the former All-Star’s battles with blood clots, which prompted to Heat to not play him this season. Also, an associate of Wade tells Jackson the Miami legend is open to playing for the team again in the future.

However, the team’s ultimate calling card may be its coach, Erik Spoelstra. In addition to coaching the Heat to two NBA titles during his tenure, Spoelstra has created a culture that allows players to thrive. Heat forward James Johnson explained to Jackson that “consistency” is the coach’s strength.

“When I say consistency, I [mean] it’s doing the same thing, not giving you the same minutes every game, but consistently getting on you enough, praising you a little bit, holding me to my word,” Johnson said. “When you get a consistent coach you look up to like coach Spo, it makes things easier.”

Miami’s culture includes rigorous training, which Jackson says will deter certain veteran players who do not want to add mileage to their bodies. As Spoelstra has said, the Heat are “not for everybody.”

Here is more news from the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets announced earlier this week that center Miles Plumlee underwent successful arthroscopic debridement on his right knee. The expected recovery for the 28-year-old center is six to eight weeks, so he should be good to go this fall. Plumlee was sent to Charlotte as part of a February deal that included Spencer Hawes and Roy Hibbert going to the Bucks. In 13 games with the Hornets, Plumlee posted totals of 2.4 PPG and 3.2 RPG.
  • Former Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox was seemingly let go by Atlanta earlier this week, but will remain with the team in a different capacity. However, before that move was announced, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Wilcox had been “in contact with other NBA teams and at least one college about other positions.”
  • Meanwhile, Mike Budenholzer will not retain his title as the Hawks’ president of basketball operations and will instead report — along with Wilcox — to whomever the Hawks hire to oversee basketball operations, per Vivlamore.

Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Heat, Millsap

Whenever the time comes that Heat president Pat Riley decides to step down, head coach Erik Spoelstra will be eager to fill the position. Spoelstra recently spoke with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical on his podcast.

The short answer would be, I’m a Pat Riley disciple. He’s always pushed me and nurtured me for the next step,” he said, adding that through both good and bad, the Heat feel like a family. The coach tempered expectations that anything imminent could happen, however.

But, yeah, Pat’s going to go on hopefully for a while though. I think he’s younger now than when he was coaching. […] I want this to be the set up that it is. I feel involved, I’m in every meeting that deals with the [Heat] organization and personnel.

Spoelstra has served as the head coach of the Heat since 2008 and was an assistant coach for ten years before that.

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Though they may have ultimately lost, Dennis Schroder‘s performance in the first round of the postseason shows just what the Hawks see in him, writes Michael Lee of The Vertical. “Dennis’ competitive spirit and his competitive nature, I think we’re always going to bet on that first,” head coach Mike Budenholzer said.
  • With their cap space set to shrink in 2018/19, this is the last chance for the Heat to land a major free agent, Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post writes. Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin and Paul Millsap could be possible options.
  • Although it appears they’ll offer Cavaliers general manager David Griffin their president of basketball operations position, John Hammond and David Morway are also on the Magic‘s short-list, Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders tweets.
  • It’s reasonable to expect Paul Millsap to opt out of his contract this summer but the Hawks forward hasn’t made any decisions about where he’ll go just yet, Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN writes.
  • The Wizards won’t need a seventh game to close out the Hawks but even if they did, center Ian Mahinmi wouldn’t have played in it, J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic writes. The big man had said that he hoped he would be able to recover from a strained calf in time to play in the first round.

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, Johnson, Winslow

Heat players recently cleaned out their lockers, having failed to make the playoffs, and many of them will have an opportunity to go elsewhere this summer. James Johnson, Udonis Haslem, and Luke Babbitt will be free agents. Willie Reed, Josh McRoberts, and Dion Waiters all hold player options and Wayne Ellington could join the free agent market if the franchise declines his $6.27MM team option.

Coach Erik Spoelstra wants his players to feel comfortable returning to Miami, as Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes. “This is clean-up day, not clean-out day,” the coach said.

Spoelstra added that his goal is to move forward with the team’s current group and compete for a championship. “Our organization is not going to change. We’re hard-wired to play and compete for championships,” he said. “Hopefully this is dot-dot-dot continued and we can build on this.”

Here’s more from Miami:

  • The Heat are thrilled with Hassan Whiteside‘s growth this season, as Winderman relays in the same piece. “I think his growth has been staggering,” Spoelstra said of the big man. “You can define it how you want. He can become one of the greats.” Whiteside signed a four-year, $98.4MM contract with Miami last offseason.
  • Johnson may consider taking a discount to stay with the Heat if it means keeping this year’s group together, Winderman passes along (Twitter links). “I’m home. That’s what it feels like. I love it here,” Johnson said of Miami.
  • Justise Winslow is recovering from shoulder surgery and is “way ahead of schedule,” according to Spoelstra, as Winderman relays via Twitter.
  • Prior to the injury, the Heat strongly believed Winslow would become a quality starter due to the work he put in last summer to improve his shooting, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Winslow admits that being sidelined hindered his ability to get comfortable with his new shooting mechanics, but added that he’ll continue to work on that part of his game.
  • Spoelstra feels Winslow would have helped Miami this season because of his efficient play, as Jackson passes along in the same piece. “He can generate threes for you offensively because he puts a lot of pressure in the paint, off the dribble, in transition. He’s an aggressive, bruising, physical type of player and he sees the floor. That helps create your three-point game,” the coach said.
  • In his latest mailbag, Winderman explains why it’ll be hard for the Heat to add a major free agent, such as Paul Millsap, and bring back the core of this year’s squad. The team can feasibly carve out approximately $37MM in cap space this summer and that may not be enough for Miami to add a max player in addition to own free agents.

Dion Waiters “Making Progress,” Still Without Timetable

According to a report from the Sun Sentinel today, Dion Waiters is making progress in his recovery from an ankle injury. Coach Erik Spoelstra indicated to reporters that Waiters no longer requires a walking boot.

“Nothing new, but he is making progress,” Spoelstra said. “He’s starting to do some conditioning. He’s out of his boot, so that’s good.”

Following Sunday’s match-up with the Nuggets, Waiters will have missed eight consecutive games due to injury. Waiters’ career renaissance has been a driving factor of Miami’s success, as the former Syracuse star averaged 21.5 points over a 10-game stretch in January.

The Heat are currently tied for the eighth seed with Indiana, as the Pacers have dropped seven of their last 10. In a recent report from Tom D’Angelo of the Palm Beach Post, Spoelstra noted “The swelling has come down considerably. He’s still going through the process of more mobility and movement.”

Knicks Notes: Rose, Anthony, Hornacek, Porzingis

Following brash remarks from Derrick Rose, the Knicks announced Carmelo Anthony (sore lower back), Lance Thomas (hip), and Rose would sit out tonight’s game against the Heat. Leading into Friday’s road match-up, D-Rose described the Knicks as a superior team to Miami.

“We’re more talented,” Rose told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. “It shows basketball is a team sport. Any year in the league is about whoever catches a rhythm. No matter how your season is going… you can always catch a rhythm, they caught theirs at the right time, winning [13 in a row]. They have been playing great basketball ever since then. So we never caught that luck this year.”

More from The Mecca…

  • Jeff Hornacek sung a different tune than Rose, saying the Knicks have much to learn from Erik Spoelstra‘s Heat. “Use Miami as an example,’’ Hornacek told Marc Berman of the New York Post. “It’s old-school basketball. Bump and grab, and the referees are not going to call all of those. As long as they stay that aggressiveness all game long, they get away with those things. They have good stretches – get five, six, seven stops in a row and take the lead on you.’’
  • Kristaps Porzingis discussed the Knicks’ shortcomings in 2016/17, citing “consistency” as a major issue for the team. “We didn’t do it from the beginning the right way,” Porzingis told Fred Kerber of the New York Post“We didn’t have real fundamentals as a team and I think from the beginning it worked for us because we played based off our talent and based off good energy. Once things got a little tougher, we just didn’t have the fundamentals as a team.” Porzingis went on to say he had the team tabbed for a “six, seven, eight seed” finish.
  • Scottie Pippen aimed pointed criticism at Phil Jackson, saying his former coach should be pushed out of his job. “I just think he [Jackson] hasn’t put the right pieces on the floor,” Pippen said on ESPN program The Jump. “I give a lot of credit to Carmelo, who has been very professional in getting through this 82-game season, and now he’s being benched to some degree, they’ve taken a lot of his minutes away. This team really just hasn’t had it. They haven’t had it since Phil Jackson landed there. I’m sure the fans will love to see Carmelo in New York and Phil out.”
  • Stefan Bondy of the Daily News outlined ‘Melo’s dilemma: being too young for a mentor role, yet too old to be on a tanking team. “Anthony is only 32 years old, too young to serve as a mentor player/coach to the likes of Ron Baker, Maurice Ndour and Chasson Randle,” Bondy writes. “He knows that. There’s too much basketball left in his legs to take on a reduced role for the sake of a rebuild — for more losing and better lottery odds. To use Anthony’s words from Wednesday, “I see the writing on the wall.”

Southeast Notes: Winslow, Oubre, Calderon, Delaney

Justise Winslow turned 21 on Sunday, spending his birthday away from the team as he continues to recover from a torn right labrum. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra used the occasion to point out Winslow’s potential, while mentioning the character he’s built at this stage of his career.

“He still has had a productive year of improvement,” Spoelstra told Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel. “A summer of improvement, where he and J-Rich [Josh Richardson] were two of the top five players in the Orlando summer league; his summer improvement in August and September; the kind of preseason he had was terrific. Then he got hurt with his wrist. Going through all of that, I think, is important for a young player, and even going through adversity, can find a silver lining out of this. Even though it’s not ideal, it does develop character.”

More from the Southeast…

  • Scott Brooks has given Kelly Oubre chances to earn a spot in his rotation, unlike former Wizards coach Randy Wittman. According to J. Michael of CSN Mid-Atlantic, Brooks has limited Oubre’s usage during “undisciplined” stretches, but Kelly’s role as a wing defender has emerged in 2016/17. “The game for Kelly, to me, is simple. Just compete,” Brooks said. “Deflections. Getting into the passing lanes. Contesting at the rim. Switching on our pick-and-roll coverage because he can guard one through four depending on the matchup and then rebound. The game rewards him when he does that.”
  • The Hawks are still evaluating backup point guards after acquiring Jose Calderon, Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution writes. Calderon received minutes in each of his first five games following the trade, only for Malcolm Delaney to recently supplant him for the role of primary back-up. “We are excited about both of them,” Mike Budenholzer said. “I think they both can help us. I think it was great to give Jose a five-game stretch. Now, we are probably at a four- or five-game stretch for Malcolm. We’ll continue to look at that. We are considering both and think both will be helpful.”

Will The Heat Add To Their Roster?

In the latest edition of his mailbag, Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel broached the subject of Miami adding depth to their shaky roster. As one of Winderman’s readers pointed out, the Heat are within striking distance of a playoff spot, but are missing several players due to injury. What’s more, they’ve committed a roster spot to Udonis Haslem– a great clubhouse presence who isn’t an in-game contributor at this point in his career. In response, Winderman wrote:

“The Heat, for at least another week, not only won’t be able to dress the allowable 13 players, but like Sunday, will only be able to dress 11. Yes, I appreciate the ‘we have enough’ mentality that coaches such as Erik Spoelstra stress. But having enough does not mean having the maximum possible resources in a playoff race that will make every game count. Whether it is signing Carlos Boozer back from China or adding a defensive wing, you raise a legitimate point. This team is hemorrhaging roster spots, and if the mantra is to be all-hands-on-deck, then playing with a full deck would be the best place to start.”

Now tied with Detroit for the eighth seed of the Eastern Conference, the Heat enter a vital stretch of their season without Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters, or Josh McRoberts. While the team could pursue Lance Stephenson, whose second 10-day contract in Minnesota recently expired, he won’t be playoff eligible. Aside from reaching out to Boozer, Winderman lists Okaro White– who is “hardly getting off the bench lately”- as a potential source of production.

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