Erik Spoelstra, who has won two straight titles as coach of the Miami Heat, was in line to become a free agent next summer. But the Heat didn’t let that happen.
Spoelstra on Sunday received a multiyear contract extension. It comes as the Heat prepare to hold media day Monday in Miami and have training camp Tuesday through Friday in the Bahamas.
Spoelstra this season will be vying to become just the fourth coach in NBA history to have won three straight titles. The ones who have done it are John Kundla of the Minneapolis Lakers, Red Auerbach of the Boston Celtics, who actually won eight in a row, and Phil Jackson, who did it twice for the Chicago Bulls and once for the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I really like the coach,’” Kundla, 97, had said last July about Spoelstra.
So does Heat president Pat Riley, who never had a “three-peat’” during his legendary career even though he has patented the term.
Spoelstra’s contract was extended before the 2011-12 season even though there were some wondering if he could be the coach to lead the Heat to a title after they had lost to Dallas in the Finals in 2011.
Now, Spoelstra, who has coached the Heat the past five seasons, is in line to be around even longer. It’s not immediately clear how many years will be added to Spoelstra’s contract.
The Heat did announce on Saturday that Spoelstra’s coaching staff will be restructured. Juwan Howard, a Heat forward the last three years who has retired at 40, and Dan Craig will move into full-time positions as assistants. Keith Askins and Chad Kammerer will move to personnel jobs.
Spoelstra finished second in voting last season for NBA Coach of the Year, a sign of his growing respect around the NBA. That came a year after he didn’t get a single vote (first, second or third) in balloting.
Former Heat and Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said last July that all Spoelstra, 42, has to do is stay around for a bit and “he’s a Hall of Famer.’” Spoelstra once served as a Miami assistant under Van Gundy.
“If he coached 10 (more) years and never got to another NBA Finals, he’s already got more accomplished than most of the coaches that go into the Hall of Fame,” Van Gundy said. “He just needs to stick around longer. There’s no reason he won’t. He can coach another 20 years at his age and you’d be talking about him with Phil Jackson and stuff.”
We’ll see if Spoelstra stays around that long. But he is line now to be in Miami for awhile.