Miami Heat assistant coach Juwan Howard will have another interview for a head coaching job.
Howard will speak to the Detroit Pistons about their coaching vacancy, the Palm Beach Post has confirmed. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski was first to report the story.
Howard, 45, met with the Knicks about their head coaching vacancy a month ago. About a week later New York announced the hiring of David Fizdale, the former Heat assistant and Memphis head coach.
The Pistons have been searching for a coach since former Heat assistant Stan Van Gundy was fired May 7. Van Gundy was the organization’s head coach and president of basketball operations. Heat executive Shane Battier spoke to the Pistons about a front office job but ultimately withdrew his name from the search.
Howard is from Chicago and played three seasons at the University of Michigan. He spent 19 seasons in the NBA, playing for eight different teams, but never for the Pistons. His last three years were with the Heat where he was a part of the 2012 and 2013 championship teams. He joined coach Erik Spoelstra’s staff immediately after retiring and worked in player development his first season along with being an assistant.
Howard’s only head coaching experience came in the 2016 Summer League where he led the Heat’s teams in Orlando and Las Vegas. Howard’s duties have including working with the Heat’s big men and serving as their defensive coordinator.
Dan Craig was the Heat’s lead assistant coach this past season.
Van Gundy spent the last four years in Detroit. The Pistons missed the playoffs in three of Van Gundy’s four seasons, qualifying in 2015-16 before being swept in the first round by the Cavaliers. Detroit was 39-43 this past season, ninth in the Eastern Conference.
Van Gundy spent more than 12 years with the Heat, including two full years plus 21 games of the 2005-06 season as head coach. Pat Riley replaced Van Gundy early in the 2005-06 and led the Heat to their first NBA title.
Others reportedly being considered for the Pistons job: Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon, former Raptors coach Dwane Casey, former NBA star and current coach of the Raptors G League affiliate Jerry Stackhouse and TNT analyst Kenny Smith.
Former Cavaliers executive David Griffin has been rumored as a potential candidate for the front office position.
CLEVELAND – Erik Spoelstra was distraught when hearing his friend, and former assistant, David Fizdale was fired by the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. So much so that the Heat coach had a tough time sleeping.
“You think as a young assistant going over there, moving cities to a new organization that’s transitioning, that you think it would be about the long game. And to have patience, and to be able to work through that transition, to be able to create something new. And that takes time in this league. And that’s what was so disheartening about it.
“Yes, they were going through a tough stretch right now, but this league is uncomfortable. It is. It is when you lose and you get challenged as an organization, when you’re going through those stretches. But, on the other side of those stretches oftentimes are the greatest benefits, when you’re able to get through that adversity together.”
“”He’s not doing that right now,” he said. “He’s going to take some time, as well he should. Since something like this happens so suddenly and shockingly, I think the best thing to do is to step back, which is what his plan is, and really disengage and then contemplate his next move. He’s a head coach. I would love to have him at least join him as a consultant or somebody to break some bread and share some wine, but that’s not going to happen right now.”
Fizdale will collect the $5 million owed to him this season and next by the Grizzlies.
Fizdale joined the Heat in 2008 after five years as an assistant with the Warriors and Hawks. He was in Miami for eight years, the last two as an assistant head coach. Fizdale heavily was involved in game preparation and player development.
“Great basketball mind,” said Udonis Haslem, who played for the Heat during Fizdale’s entire tenure.
“Can relate to him. One of those coaches that can calm me down and get to me no matter the situation. We just spoke the same language, spoke the same lingo. We just really could relate. Great passion for the game.”
Spoelstra and Haslem both reached out to Fizdale on Monday. Haslem said the was “shocked” by the news.
“Couldn’t believe it,” he said. “I don’t think it was right. He took them to the playoffs last year. Obviously, they’ve had some injuries so they struggled, it’s not easy to play without your full roster. We know that first hand. We’ve been through that. I felt like he should have got a little bit more commitment from the organization. A little more patience.”
Fizdale was 50-51 in just more than one season in Memphis. The Grizzlies lost in the first round of the 2017 playoffs and have dropped to 7-12 this year after having lost eight straight.
The tipping point, though, was his deteriorating relationship with center Marc Gasol, who Fizdale benched for the fourth quarter of a loss to Brooklyn on Sunday. Memphis GM Chris Wallace acknowledged to local reporters there was tension between Fizdale and Gasol but said the decision was more about the way the team was performing.
The support for Fizdale was heard all over the NBA, not just from the Heat.
“I think David Fizdale is one of the best coaches in the league,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s a brilliant guy, he’s got an edge to him, he’s tough, he’s smart. Their whole team is injured, Mike Conley is out. Like, this is what happens, you lose when your best players are out and when your whole team is wiped out. It caught me off guard.”
Cavalier coach Tyronn Lue, on Monday, vouched for Fizdale as a person and a coach.
“To pick up and move his family there, leave a good situation in Miami, where they were winning. … He was a part of those championships,” Lue said. “And then when you have an opportunity, I thought he did a great job. A lot of guys thought he did a great job. For this to happen to him, to a good person, to his family, it’s not right. I feel for him, but he did a helluva job.”
Fizdale took the high road in his statement issured early Tuesday that read:
“I would like to thank the Memphis Grizzlies organization for allowing me the opportunity to lead this proud franchise and represent the city of Memphis,” he wrote.
After thanking the ownership group and team officials he continued. “It was a great honor and experience to serve as your Head Coach and be part of the Memphis community. The city of Memphis is a special place and embodies a spirit that is second to none. I wish the organization and the players the best moving forward and hope they bring the fans the championship they so richly deserve.”
If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpostcom.
From @ShawnO1362020: Do u think the heat will hire back Fizdale for an assistant job or any job open in the organization?
Fizdale lasted just more than one season in Memphis after signing a four-year, $10.2 million contract, although the fourth year is a team option. The Grizzlies lost in the first round of the 2017 playoffs and have dropped to 7-12 this year after having lost eight straight.
The tipping point, though, was his deteriorating relationship with center Marc Gasol, who Fizdale benched for the fourth quarter of a loss to Brooklyn on Sunday.
Fizdale was a popular figure in Miami during his eight years as an assistant coach, including the Big Three era in which he was part of two titles. The support he received from players he coached during his time in Miami was evident by the reaction over his firing.
I need some answers. Feels like my man was a fall guy
But do not look for Fizdale to return to the Heat any time soon, or maybe ever. First, the Heat have no openings next to Spoelstra with assistants Dan Craig, Juwan Howard and Chris Quinn, who also carries the title of director of player development, on the bench.
Octavio De La Grana sits behind the bench because of the NBA’s limit on assistants allowed to sit next to the head coach. Fizdale could join De La Grana behind the bench but he isn’t about to take that position after spending more than a year as a head coach and also being owed the remainder of his $2 million this season and $3 million next year from the Grizzlies.
The question then becomes what Fizdale decides to do next season. Could an opening occur on the Heat bench for him to return or does he find another job? Look for Fizdale to be back on an NBA bench, but as a head coach.
From: @MiamiVikings: When do you think Bam will get more playing time? I don’t think he’s been horrible & he plays good defense & grabs boards in the minutes he’s given us.
Bam Adebayo has played in 10 games – three starts – this season, averaging 3.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in 12.3 minutes and shooting 50 percent. But that playing time has diminished lately and the rookie has not seen action in seven of the last nine games.
Spoelstra has settled into a nice rotation with James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk getting all of the big-man minutes off the bench. He continues to praise Adebayo’s development and says there will be times when he is called upon.
“He’s continuing to work at it, now he has to develop a level of patience that’s required in this league,” Spoelstra said Saturday in Chicago. “It’s a long season. It can feel like it is months when you’re not playing but in reality it’s only a few days, few games.
“I’m not discounting how difficult that is for competitors. He just has to get committed to his player development, being prepared and being ready for the next opportunity when he gets it.”
Luol Deng played just two seasons with the Miami Heat but he made an impact on coach Erik Spoelstra that goes beyond the court.
Spoelstra is in Africa as part of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program and it is because of his relationship with Deng that he made the trip this summer.
Spoelstra spoke with Deng and his former assistant coach, David Fizdale, now the Memphis head coach, after they were a part of the first Africa Game two summers ago and decided he wanted to participate.
“Lu expressing his background and the experiences he had growing up was something that really impacted me and everybody on the team,” Spoelstra said Thursday from Johannesburg, South Africa.
“What they talked about after that week, and how emotional it was and how grateful Lu was for having so many people participate in it, Lu was a big reason why I’m over here now helping and it was great to catch up with him and get back out on the court together again, but doing it from a coaching and service standpoint.”
Spoelstra participated in a call after taking part in a Habitat for Humanity event with other coaches and players.
Since its inaugural year in 2001, the NBA and FIBA have staged 49 Basketball Without Borders camps in 30 cities in 25 countries on six continents.
The Africa Game will be held Saturday in Johannesburg and will feature Team Africa vs. Team World. It will be played in support of UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation and SOS Children’s Villages South Africa.
Deng, who signed with the Lakers last summer, was born in South Sudan and will serve as a captain for Team Africa. Others on the team include Philadelphia’s Joel Embid, Toronto’s Serge Ibaka and Orlando’s Victor Oladipo.
Among those playing for Team World: Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki, Charlotte’s Kemba Walker, New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins, Portland’s CJ McCollum and New York’s Kristaps Porzingis.
“I just want to be able to give and serve,” Spoelstra said. “It’s a great game that we all feel so grateful for. I’ve done a lot of the NBA programs in the Philippines and other places in South Florida. But I’ve always wanted to be a part of BWB in Africa.… and to offer my services for the week. However little those may be, I just want to be able to help and contribute.”
After nine seasons, two titles, four trips to the Finals and seven playoff appearances, the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra finally has been formally recognized as one of the best coaches in the league.
Spoelstra was named co-winner of the inaugural Michael H. Goldberg National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year award it was announced Sunday. He shares the honor with the Houston Rockets’ Mike D’Antoni.
The award, voted upon by league’s 30 head coaches, is named for the longtime executive director of the coaches association who died earlier this year. The winner of the media voting will be announced June 26.
Dallas Mavericks coach and NBCA President Rick Carlisle recognized Spoelstra and D’Antoni.
“Congratulations to Mike and Erik on their outstanding work this year,” Carlisle said. “And somewhere up above our good friend Michael Goldberg is very proud.”
Spoelstra, 46, guided the Heat to the biggest turnaround in league history, going from 11-30 in the first half of the season to 30-11 in the second half. Miami is the only team in league history to finish at .500 after being 19 games under at some point during that season. The Heat tied with the Bulls for the eighth-best record in the Eastern Conference but the final playoff spot went to Chicago because of the tie-breaker.
This, despite Miami leading the league with 328 player games lost to injury or illness.
Spoelstra is 440-282 in his nine seasons as head coach. The closest he ever came to winning a coach of the year award was following the 2012-13 season after Miami finished 66-16. Denver’s George Karl won the media award with a 57-25 record. Spoelstra was runner-up, 214 votes behind. The season ended with the Heat winning their second consecutive title under Spoelstra.
In the other three years of the Big Three in which Miami averaged nearly 53 victories, went to the Finals each year and won the 2012 title, Spoelstra received one Coach of the Year vote. … combined. That was a first place vote in 2010-11. The next year 15 different coaches received at least one vote as did 10 different coaches in 2013-14 .
Heat President Pat Riley believes coaching this team, which lost Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and included seven new players, was a different challenge for Spoelstra.
“There’s always challenges when you have great teams that are supposed to win. … And then there’s this kind of challenge in which I think he’s handled with great experience and by staying the course,” Riley said.
Heat guard Goran Dragic posted a video late in the season endorsing his coach for the top honor.
“In my opinion, he should win Coach of the Year,” Dragic said. “Everybody knows how we started the season and how we’ve bounced back, and a lot of credit goes to Erik.”
D’Antoni, 65, led the Rockets to the third best record in the NBA (55-27) and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference in his first season in Houston. D’Antoni improved Houston’s win total by 14 and put James Harden in position to become a legitimate MVP candidate.
Houston is D’Antoni’s fifth head coaching job.
Other coaches to receive votes included Washington’s Scott Brooks, Memphis’ David Fizdale, Golden State’s Steve Kerr, Milwaukee’s Jason Kidd, San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, the Clippers’ Doc Rivers and Utah’s Quin Snyder.
Spoelstra and D’Antoni will receive their trophy at the NBCA annual meeting of head coaches in September.
David Fizdale has a ways to go to catch up to his mentor, Erik Spoelstra, in many areas. But in one, Fizdale is sure to pass the Heat head coach in the next day or so.
After just his second playoff game, the Grizzlies rookie coach is sure to hear from the NBA today after his rant on Monday following Memphis’ 96-82 loss to San Antonio in the Game 2 of their opening round series, giving the Spurs a 2-0 lead.
Fizdale was hot from the start, although he was able to get through two questions before the eruption. He did, though, hint at what was coming when said he would be evaluating the game when “I cool off and have a glass of wine on the plane.”
Then, while answering a third question about the importance of the Grizzlies making a run in the second half – they trailed 56-37 at the half – he unloaded:
“It’s unfortunate I got a guy like Mike Conley who in his whole career has gotten zero technical fouls and just cannot seem to get the proper respect from the officials that he deserves,” Fizdale said.
“It was a very poorly officiated game. Zach Randolph, the most rugged guy in the game, had zero free throws, but somehow Kahwi Leonard had 19 free throws. First half we shot 19 shots in the paint and we had six free throws. They shot 11 times in the paint and had 23 free throws. I’m not a numbers guy but that doesn’t seem to add up.”
By now, the only numbers that mattered in the room were Fizdale’s blood pressure. He went on, his voice starting to rise.
“Overall, 35 times we shot the ball in the paint we had 15 free throws for the game. They shot 18 times in the paint and had 32 free throws. Kahwi shot more free throws than the whole team. Explain it to me.
“We don’t get respect that we deserve because Mike Conley doesn’t go crazy, he has class and just plays the game but I’m not going to let them treat us that way. I know Pop’s (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) got pedigree and I’m a young rookie. But they’re not gonna rook us. That was unacceptable. That was unprofessional. My guys dug in that game and earned the right to be in that game and they did not even give us a chance. “
Fizdale ended his press conference by saying, “take that for data,” slamming his hand on the table and storming out.
This will cost Fizdale at least $25,000, which seems to be the going rate when it comes to disciplining coaches.
Spoelstra lasted 43 postseason games in his coaching career before writing a check to the league for blasting officials. That came before the sixth game of the 2012 Eastern Conference semifinals. Udonis Haslem was suspended for a flagrant foul on Indiana’s Tyler Hansbrough. Spo countered by saying officials were ignoring hits to the head taken by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
“The league does not have a problem with hard fouls on our two main guys,” he said. “In nine games now, there’s been over a dozen hard fouls to the face, some of the tomahawk variety, some have drawn blood. They don’t have a problem with it so we don’t have a problem with it. We’ll focus on what we can control.”
Spo’s bank account was $25,000 lighter for those comments. Fizdale, who may have crossed a different line calling officials “unprofessional,” may be reaching even deeper.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will rebuild his coaching staff this summer.
The first departure was longtime assistant David Fizdale, who was hired as the head coach at Memphis. Now it appears Fizdale is taking fellow Miami assistant Keith Smart with him.
ESPN reported Thursday that Smart, who joined the Heat in 2014 after a brief stint as Sacramento’s head coach, is leaving for the same position in Memphis. The only remaining assistant coach for Spoelstra now is 32-year-old Chris Quinn. Spoelstra likely will fill one of the vacancies with Dan Craig, currently the Heat’s D-League head coach.
This was a difficult season for Smart as he battled a rare form of skin cancer and had multiple extended absences for treatment.
“It was a tough year emotionally for this team, starting with Coach Smart,” Spoelstra said at the end of the season. “I’ve never been through anything like that. We were reflecting just now about the meeting in my office when he told the coaching staff. That was a tough blow. Strange things happened in the course of the year. One game I only had two assistant coaches, because of (family) deaths and Keith’s situation.”