Erik Spoelstra

Southeast Notes: Mills, Gueye, Bufkin, Windler, Spoelstra, Wagner Brothers

Patty Mills only appeared in 32 games with the Hawks and Heat this season but the 35-year-old guard isn’t ready to retire. Mills will head into free agency looking for a new deal, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

“I take really good care of myself and my body and the plan is to continue to play until the wheels fall off is how I see it,” he said. Mills, who added he’d prefer to stay with the Heat, will play for Australia in the Paris Olympics.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Mouhamed Gueye, Kobe Bufkin and Dylan Windler are expected to play on the Hawks’ Summer League squad next month, Brad Rowland of the LockedOnHawks podcast tweets. GM Landry Fields made that revelation during his press conference on Monday.
  • The Heat’s early postseason exit has allowed coach Erik Spoelstra to spend more time evaluating draft prospects, though he’s offering opinions rather than getting too involved in the process. “I figured I had three days to get up to speed on the draft last year,” he told Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “The eight weeks leading up to [this year’s draft], I think I’ll just be probably overconfused by overanalysis. I’ll stay out of the way. Now that I have more time, I’m probably dangerous. I’ll stay out of the way of our scouting department. They do an exceptional job — Adam Simon and his staff — preparing for that draft.”
  • Germany won the FIBA World Cup last summer, defeating Team USA along the way. The Magic’s Franz Wagner and Moritz Wagner will now try to lead their home country to a gold medal at the Olympics. “It’s a dream come true for me as a player,” Franz told Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel. The Magic hold an $8MM option on Moritz’s contract for next season, so he could wind up as a free agent next month.

Southeast Notes: Fultz, Heat, Bridges, Lee

Free agency is quickly approaching for Magic guard Markelle Fultz, who is hoping to re-sign with Orlando, writes Jason Beede of The Orlando Sentinel. Fultz battled through recurring problems with his left knee that limited him to 43 games this season. He began the season as a starter, but only remained in that role for 18 games and saw his numbers drop across the board as he struggled to stay on the court.

“I had my ups and downs,” Fultz said. “I had my little bumps and bruises on my knee and arms. I’m just glad I was able to finish the season out healthy. Of course, I missed some games during the season but being able to finish the year off with my brothers, have that experience of the playoffs and make it to a Game 7 was huge for me. I’m just grateful.”

After a rocky start to his NBA career, the top pick in the 2017 draft appeared to have established himself with the Magic during the 2022/23 season. He started all 60 games he played, set career highs with 14.0 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game and had career-best shooting marks of 51.4% from the field and 31% from three-point range. But his future seems less certain now at age 26 and coming off an injury-riddled season.

“I understand it’s a business,” Fultz said at the team’s exit interviews. “I understand some guys are going to be gone [and] some coaches might be gone. You never know. You obviously hope for the best, but understand that you can only control what you can control, and in my eyes, I always try to do that.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Head coach Erik Spoelstra will focus on fixing the Heat‘s offense this summer, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Injuries made it difficult for Miami to establish any continuity as Spoelstra was forced to use 35 different starting lineups. Beyond that, Chiang points out that the Heat had difficulty with inside scoring — attempting just 28.5% of their shots around the rim, which was the third fewest in the league, and shooing 63.4% in the restricted area, which ranked seventh worst.
  • Miles Bridges‘ decision in free agency will set the tone for the rest of the Hornets‘ summer, observes Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer. The team would love to re-sign Bridges, but he figures to have plenty of options on the open market after posting a career season while playing on a $7.9MM qualifying offer. Boone notes that Bridges’ $15MM cap hold and the $7.5MM salary slotted for the No. 6 pick will take up most of Charlotte’s projected cap space, so the team is limited in the moves it can make until Bridges’ situation is resolved.
  • In a separate story, Boone examines the type of head coach the Hornets are getting in Boston assistant Charles Lee, who won’t be with the team full-time until after the end of the NBA Finals.

Eastern Notes: Hornets Draft, Spoelstra, Bulls Draft, LaVine

The Hornets haven’t had much lottery luck over the years and this one was no different. With Brandon Miller representing the Hornets at the lottery, they dropped from the No. 3 pick to No. 6. “In this process, I don’t think anything is a surprise, just because you never know what can go on here,” Miller told Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. “I think the main thing here is to always be focused, prepared just for anything because it can go the wrong way. It can go the bad way.”

We have more from the Eastern Conference:

  • After receiving an eight-year extension, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra won’t be going to the draft combine. Team president Pat Riley said Spoelstra is getting some much-needed time off. “He deserves it,” Riley said of Spoelstra’s extension, per Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “He could have been a free agent and gone anywhere. That leads to organizational stability with your players. Players who come to him and his staff and develop, other players see that. All of a sudden, they have career contracts and career opportunities. It’s a credit to him.”
  • The Bulls remained in the No. 11 spot in the aftermath of the lottery. NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson looks at some potential prospects who could land in that area, including Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, USC’s Isaiah Collier, and Colorado’s Cody Williams.
  • In his Bulls offseason preview for, Keith Smith says he believes the team will trade Zach LaVine this summer, finding a way to move his contract to a contender in need of scoring punch. DeMar DeRozan‘s free agency is a bit more unpredictable, as the Bulls could re-sign him if they’re intent on remaining a playoff contender. If not, they’ll let him walk and look to rebuild, Smith writes.

Heat Notes: Martin, Second Apron, Spoelstra, Butler

Caleb Martin said at Friday’s exit interviews that his preference is to remain with the Heat, but Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald explains that the team’s financial situation may not make that realistic. Martin has a $7.1MM player option for next season, which he’s expected to turn down to seek a longer and more lucrative contract in free agency.

“Everybody knows I want to be here. I make that known,” Martin told reporters. “That’s my goal is to be able to stay here, make it work. I want to be here as long as possible and for them to want me to come back. That’s my main goal.”

As we noted recently, it will be difficult for Miami to re-sign Martin and free agent Haywood Highsmith without crossing the second tax apron for next season. Chiang points out that the Heat have seven players under contract for 2024/25, and assuming Kevin Love, Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant all pick up their options, the team salary would be around $173MM with five slots left to fill.

Adding $4.2MM for the 15th pick in the draft, another $2.1MM for Orlando Robinson‘s contract, which is non-guaranteed for next season, and $2.5MM in unlikely bonuses for Tyler Herro, which have to be included for apron calculations, brings that total to $181.8MM for 12 players. That’s already above the projected first apron of $179MM and only $8.2MM away from the severe restrictions that are part of the second apron.

There’s more from Miami:

  • Coach Erik Spoelstra rejects the idea that the Heat didn’t place enough emphasis on the regular season and didn’t make a strong attempt to avoid the play-in tournament, per Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe. After advancing from the play-in to the NBA Finals last year, there was a perception that Miami was content to try to do it again, which led to a bad first-round matchup with Boston. “To say that we did not philosophically take the regular season seriously, that’s totally off base,” Spoelstra said. “I could see why people would point to that because of missed games. We’re not a load-management team. There were things that happened and sometimes you can’t control that.”
  • With Jimmy Butler expected to seek a two-year extension worth about $113MM, ESPN’s Zach Lowe speculated on his latest podcast that Butler could be on the trade market this summer (hat tip to Bleacher Report). “There are scenarios, let’s just say, where the Heat trade Jimmy Butler for some future assets and some other stuff,” Lowe said, “… and that gives them the ammo to go out and call the Cavs, and say, ‘Hey, what about Donovan Mitchell?'” Butler is under contract through next season and has a $52.4MM player option for 2025/26.
  • Butler made some pointed comments about two Eastern Conference rivals and one of his former coaches (Twitter link from Rock the Bells). “If I was playing, Boston would be at home,” said Butler, who missed the first-round series with an MCL sprain. “New York damn sure would be f—ing at home.” Butler also rejected the idea that Josh Hart could guard him and said he has “love” for Tom Thibodeau but wouldn’t be interested in playing for him again. “I love Thibs but I don’t want Thibs,” Butler continued. “I love you baby, but I want to beat you to a pulp. You want me. I don’t want you. It’s like a one-sided relationship. You in love with me and I love you but I’m not in love with you.”

Steve Kerr, Erik Spoelstra Named Coaches Of The Month

Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra were named the NBA’s Coaches of the Month for the month of February, the league announced (Twitter link).

Kerr led the Warriors to an 11-3 record in February, with victories over the Suns and Lakers highlighting the month. February saw Klay Thompson take on a reserve role and flourish, as well as young players helping guide Golden State back into the playoff picture. Golden State is 32-28 and ninth in the West, 2.5 games behind the Kings for No. 6 in the conference and avoiding the play-in.

The Heat went 8-3 in February behind Spoelstra’s leadership, and they’ve lost just once since the All-Star break. Even with players in and out of the lineup, the Heat have gotten impressive contributions from about everyone in the rotation. Their month featured big wins over the Bucks, Magic and Sixers. Miami defeated the Bucks by 26 points without Jimmy Butler in the lineup on Feb. 13.

The other nominees for Coach of the Month in the West were Oklahoma City’s Mark Daigneault, Minnesota’s Chris Finch, L.A.’s Darvin Ham, Dallas’s Jason Kidd and Denver’s Michael Malone (Twitter link). Meanwhile, in the East, Cleveland’s J.B. Bickerstaff, Boston’s Joe Mazzulla and Orlando’s Jamahl Mosley were nominated.

Heat Notes: Losing Streak, Martin, Spoelstra, Robinson, Big Three

Saddled with a seven-game losing streak, the Heat are feeling ornery, according to The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson. A lot of strong words by players and coaches were passed along during a film session on Tuesday. The team is back in action against Sacramento on Wednesday.

“Things were said that needed to be said,” forward Caleb Martin said. “I really do think we’re on the same page.”

Coach Erik Spoelstra said the team’s approach is more important than X’s and O’s at this juncture.

“Toughness — mental, physical, emotional competitive toughness,” he said. “The schematics are second, third, fourth, fifth [behind that]… That’s what we worked on today, finding solutions that are really none of your business, and I say that respectfully.”

We have more on the Heat:

  • Duncan Robinson has entered the league’s concussion protocol, Jackson reports in the same story. Robinson played only four minutes on Monday against Phoenix. He sat out the second half after he revealed he wasn’t feeling well. Robinson took a hard fall and his head snapped back as he hit the court on Saturday against the Knicks.
  • Miami is 5-11 when Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro are all available this season after finishing 26-25 in those games last season, Jackson points out in a separate story. The Herald columnist cites a number of reasons why the team’s Big Three hasn’t meshed well this season.
  • On that same topic, Herro said the team is still trying to find the reasons for the recent slide, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald“We’re still figuring it out,” Herro said. “During a seven-game losing streak, it’s not really easy to pinpoint what we’re going to do going into each night when we’re losing. But we’re just trying to win and figure out what works and what doesn’t.”
  • One thing is for certain during the franchise’s longest losing streak. There’s a determination to get things turned around quickly, William Guillory of the Miami Herald writes. “Obviously, if you’re in this kind of hole, the level of urgency, concern is extremely high,” Spoelstra said.

Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra Signs Eight-Year Extension

8:04pm: It’s an eight-year deal, a source tells Reynolds (Twitter link). The contract is worth over $100MM, Chiang tweets, while ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski pegs that figure above $120MM (Twitter link).

7:51pm: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has signed a long-term contract extension, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press (Twitter link).

Spoelstra had been in the last year of his contract. While the exact terms of the extension are unknown, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports that it’s for more than five years at a rate of over $10MM per season (Twitter link).

Spoelstra will be one of the league’s highest-paid coaches, per Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. Head coaching salaries have risen dramatically over the past year. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich signed a five-year contract worth a reported $80MM and Pistons coach Monty Williams inked a six-year, $78.5MM deal.

Spoelstra, who has been in the Heat organization since 1997, has been the team’s head coach since the 2008/09 season and has two championships to his credit. He has also guided the franchise to the NBA Finals in four other seasons, including last season’s appearance after surviving the play-in tournament.

In total, Spoelstra has compiled a 725-506 (.589) regular season record across his 15-plus seasons in Miami, with an impressive 109-75 (.592) mark in the playoffs.

Popovich is the NBA’s only current head coach who has been with his current organization longer than Spoelstra has been with the Heat.

Heat Notes: Adebayo, Hampton, Swider, Jaquez

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra had another impressive showing in John Schuhmann’s annual general manager poll, earning 73% of the GMs’ votes for best head coach in the NBA. However, when he was asked about that survey during a media session on Tuesday, Spoelstra ended up bemoaning the fact that Bam Adebayo didn’t receive a single vote as the league’s best defensive player.

“That one is just unbelievable to me,” Spoelstra said, per Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald (Twitter link). “I think Bam is the best defensive player in the league and I just can’t understand why he’s not recognized for how impactful he is on that end of the court. So he’s just going to have to prove it again and just do it this year until everybody notices.”

While Spoelstra acknowledged that the pursuit of certain individual awards can interfere with team success, he suggested that Defensive Player of the Year – which Adebayo has talked about wanting to win – is “a good award to go for.”

“I think he just has to be who he is, do what he does and just be that dynamic force on that end of the court,” Spoelstra said. “Then I think he’s going to get recognized for that and hopefully we’ll have a great defense this year and he leads us on that end of the court.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • In a notebook column for The Miami Herald, Barry Jackson explores whether Thomas Bryant has the right skill set to share the court with Adebayo, notes that Kevin Love has no preference between starting or coming off the bench, and relays Spoelstra’s comments on camp invitee R.J. Hampton. “(He’s) an out-of-this-world athlete,” Spoelstra said of Hampton, adding that he led the Heat in deflections and steals during training camp. “But he has to find a template to find immediate success in a role.”
  • Cole Swider‘s impressive fall continued on Tuesday as he poured in five three-pointers in the Heat’s preseason opener. While the camp invitee has made a good case for a promotion to a standard contract or two-way deal, he’s not taking anything for granted, writes Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscription required). “I mean, I’m not on a contract, still,” Swider said. “You know what I mean? There’s nothing to be really excited about. … I just want to keep on stacking one day at a time, keeping on trying to help myself and help this team get to a point where I’m in the rotation and helping this team win.”
  • Coming off a strong preseason debut in which he scored 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting, Heat rookie Jaime Jaquez strained his left groin during Wednesday’s practice, tweets Winderman. The severity of the injury isn’t yet known, but the team will likely be in no hurry to get Jaquez back on the court.
  • While it may not have been ideal for young players like Jaquez and Nikola Jovic to have their names bandied about in trade rumors all summer, Spoelstra believes there’s a silver lining, according to Winderman (subscription required). “It’s not easy for young players to have their names thrown out there in the media. It’s just happening more and more each year, it seems like. And it’s not exclusive to us. I think it’s just league-wide, so you have to learn how to manage all of that,” Spoelstra said. “… And I think that’s a good thing for young players to experience early on — all the different components of being a professional basketball player.”

And-Ones: Title Threats, Ennis, Storylines, Top Coaches

Which team is the Nuggets’ biggest impediment to a second straight title? ESPN’s panel of experts believes the Bucks, Warriors, Suns and Celtics are all potential threats to a Denver repeat. As for just making the playoffs, the Mavericks, Bulls, Timberwolves and Pelicans are among a group of teams that can’t afford to fall short of postseason participation or else risk major rebuilds or superstar demands for trades.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former NBA guard Tyler Ennis has signed with Italy’s Gevi Napoli Basket, according to a team press release. A first-round pick in 2014, Ennis has not played in the NBA since the 2017/18 season, when he appeared in 54 Lakers games. In recent years, Ennis has played mainly in Turkey. He also had a stint with the Raptors’ G League team.
  • The trade demands of James Harden and Damian Lillard, along with Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future with the Bucks, are some of the storylines that will be closely followed this NBA season, The Athletic’s Sam Amick writes.
  • Who are the top five coaches in the NBA? Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times tackles that subject, ranking the Heat‘s Erik Spoelstra and the Spurs Gregg Popovich first and second. The third choice may surprise some people. Cowley rates the Knicks Tom Thibodeau at that spot due to his ability to take downtrodden franchises and make them playoff teams.

Southeast Notes: Hornets Roster, Spoelstra, Jovic, Avdija, Gafford

The Hornets are unlikely to add more players on guaranteed contracts before the season begins, according to general manager Mitch Kupchak, Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer tweets.

After coming to terms with restricted free agent P.J. Washington, the Hornets have 13 players on fully guaranteed deals, plus another (Frank Ntilikina) on a partial guarantee. JT Thor has a non-guaranteed contract for the upcoming season.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • It’s possible that Erik Spoelstra, an assistant to Steve Kerr for Team USA, will be game-planning against Nikola Jovic and Serbia in the World Cup championship game. Heat assistant GM Adam Simon is rooting for that outcome, according to  Spoeltra already got a chance to talk to the Heat forward during the tournament. “It’s great that the two of them had a chat for a while in Manila. I hope they will meet again in the final,” Simon told Meridian Sport.
  • Scouts that spoke to The Athletic’s Josh Robbins regarding Wizards forward Deni Avdija believe the Israeli can carve out a lengthy NBA career. However, the consensus opinion is that Avdija hasn’t shown enough offensively to live up to his draft status and become a difference-maker for a contender. Avdija was selected ninth overall in 2020. He’ll be a restricted free agent next summer if Washington’s front office extends him a qualifying offer.
  • With Kristaps Porzingis in Boston, Daniel Gafford is the only proven shot-blocker on the Wizards’ roster. That’s one reason why he could see more playing time, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. Gafford is also comfortable playing at a faster pace, which the Wizards’ staff wants to implement, and ranks as their best screen-setter.