No one knows whether LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, or Chris Bosh will remain with the Miami Heat after the 2014 season, but one member of the team who definitely will stick around is coach Erik Spoelstra, now that the team has extended his contract.
Spoelstra signed a multiyear contract extension ensuring he will remain with the two-time defending champions after his original contract expires next summer, the team said Sunday afternoon. The move comes one day after the Heat announced several other front-office moves, including promoting Andy Elisburg to general manager and hiring Juwan Howard as an assistant coach.
A person familiar with the talks between the sides, speaking on condition of anonymity earlier Sunday because the deal had not been announced, told The Associated Press that the Heat has never had any intention of letting Spoelstra go. He had one season remaining on his existing contract, a deal that the sides agreed to in 2011.
"I want Spo here for a long, long time," Heat President Pat Riley said last season.
Spoelstra is 260-134 in his first five seasons with Miami, going to the playoffs in each of those years, the NBA finals in each of the last three and winning the title in 2012 and 2013. His resume suggests that he's already well on a Hall of Fame path: Only 12 other men in NBA history multiple championships as a coach, and only seven others have collected rings in back-to-back years.
He's won while helping James, Wade and Bosh not only figure out ways to play with one another, but having each of those stars change their game to make everything fit within the Heat system.
Last season may have been Spoelstra's best coaching job.
The Heat rolled through the regular season, winning 27 straight games at one point on the way to a 66-16 record. Then in the playoffs, Miami had to rally from a 1-0 second-round deficit against Chicago and ultimately had to grind out seven-game victories over Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals and San Antonio in the NBA Finals.
"What's overlooked for him is the management of the team," Wade told AP last season. "It's not the coaching part of it. It's, 'Can you manage these egos, these personalities, without having one your damn self?' He's done it."
Yahoo Sports first reported that Spoelstra and the Heat were nearing a new deal. The Heat power structure remains largely unchanged, even after Elisburg — a Heat original employee — was promoted to GM and the hiring of Howard was part of a slight reshuffling of Spoelstra's staff. Riley remains president, Nick Arison remains CEO and Micky Arison remains managing general partner of a team that has not fired a head coach since parting ways with Kevin Loughery in February 1995.
Miami's annual media day is Monday. The team's first two training-camp practices of the new season take place Tuesday in the Bahamas.
Hired as a video coordinator by the Heat in 1995, Spoelstra's rise through the ranks has been well-chronicled.
He was a scout, an assistant coach, a key part of Stan Van Gundy's staff in Miami and then started becoming considered Riley's protege not long after Van Gundy stepped down 21 games into what became a championship season for the Heat in 2005-06.
Riley retired for good in 2008, and the Heat didn't wait long before making Spoelstra the head coach. He inherited a 15-win team and improved it by 28 games in his first year. The Heat went back to the playoffs in 2010, then found a way to keep Wade while landing James, Bosh and a slew of other players the following summer on their way to making three straight trips to the NBA Finals.