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.
Erik Spoelstra becomes more of a rarity with each coaching firing.
Former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy and the Pistons parted ways today, pushing the number to eight teams that have fired their coach since the start of last season.
More than half of the teams have changed coaches in the last two years and more could come as the playoffs progress. This despite no coaching changes from the end of the 2016-17 season to the start of 2017-18.
Since Spoelstra’s first season as the Heat coach in 2008-09, there have been 131 coaching changes in the league, including interim coaches, and the five remaining openings that will be filled in the coming weeks.
Spoelstra, 47, just completed his 10th season in Miami. The Nets have had nine different coaches and Kings have had eight during that span.
Only San Antonio and Dallas have not changed coaches since Spoelstra’s first season. The Spurs’ Gregg Popovich is the lone head coach who has been with his current team longer than Spoelstra. Spoelstra was hired April 28, 2008, 11 days before the Mavericks put Rick Carlisle in charge.
Popovich has been coaching the Spurs since Dec. 10, 1996.
Spoelstra has credited his longevity to the organization’s stability. Owner Micky Arison and president Pat Riley have run the organization for the last 28 years.
“I’m in one of the most fortunate situations in the league,” Spoelstra once said. “No matter what’s going on with our team I’m always able to quickly get back to a sense of gratitude. I see how unique this organization (is) and my bosses are compared to the rest of the league.”
Van Gundy, who worked for the Heat for 11 seasons, including a little more than two years as a head coach in which Spoelstra was on his staff, was fired today as the head of basketball operations and head coach.
If Van Gundy fills one of the four other openings, it would be his fourth head coaching job, third since Spoelstra took over in Miami. Van Gundy was the Magic head coach from the 2007-08 season until the 2011-12 season.
MIAMI – Six weeks after Dwyane Wade left Miami in 2016 to sign with the Chicago Bulls, his 32-year-old cousin, Nykea Aldridge, was killed when she was caught in the crossfire of a gang war. Wade, feeling more emboldened by returning to his hometown, spoke out about the gun violence that gripped the city that year and then-presidential candidate Donald Trump using the tragedy for political gain.
Six days after Wade returned to Miami last month, 14 students and three adults were shot and killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland. Ten days later Wade learned the parents of 17-year-old Joaquin Oliver buried their son in a Wade jersey. Wade was back on his platform calling for changes in gun laws and reminding everybody that he will not be silenced.
Was Dwyane Wade put in Chicago and Miami for a reason?
“It definitely crossed my mind,” he said.
Wade’s return to South Florida transcends the basketball court. Sure, he has energized the city and the Heat fan base. The online demand for his Heat “Vice” jersey continues to outweigh the supply. And he turned back the clock with two vintage performances this week in which he averaged 26.0 points and knocked down a game-winning contested jump shot against the 76ers.
But he also returns to a community in which his voice resonates, especially with children who look to him as a role model. Because of that Wade promises he will not “shut up and dribble” when it comes to social issues.
“It comes with age,” Wade said about his comfort in taking a stance. “You get older you stop worrying about things the same. As well, you go through life you get educated on a lot of things. There’s a lot of things I’ve learned over the last two, three years, experiences that changed me, that’s changed my outlook. I’m comfortable getting behind, supporting and talking about things that I want to and I’m not really worried about the repercussions of it.
“I feel that I do understand even more now sitting here at 36 the responsibility of being in a position like this. It’s not just making a lot of money and being on SportsCenter or things like that. I know my role in this life and I try to live up to it and I will continue to.”
Wade joined the Heat in 2003 five months after his 21st birthday. He was bursting with energy and talent. His contributions to the Heat then primarily were on the court. But as he has grown and matured, that impact has become far reaching.
“There was such a purpose attached to his life before he even came into the world,” said Jolinda Wade, Dwyane’s mother, a pastor at New Creation Church in Chicago. “Dwyane is a blessing to the world. I believe that he is strategically placed to serve whatever purpose that is attached to his life at that particular moment.”
Few have seen Wade grow and mature in his professional setting as has Heat president Pat Riley, who drafted Wade and then coached him in his early years.
“When he was first here he was young, he wasn’t naïve, he was excited and he was about the game only,” Riley told The Post. “He has matured in a way like I haven’t seen many players. Very sophisticated and almost worldly to a certain extent. How he expresses himself articulately whether it’s social media or whether it’s on a microphone. And he’s right on.
“I think everybody has seen Dwyane grow over the years in these areas, grow through adversity, grow through maturity, grow through being a great player and winning championships, just getting older.”
Riley coached Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for nine seasons with the Lakers, after playing against him in high school and with him in the NBA. Jabbar, 70, is one of the more outspoken social and political activists of his generation. And although Jabbar’s causes were different growing up in the 60s and converting to Islam, Riley sees similarities in Jabbar’s an Wade’s paths.
“I don’t know if Dwyane has the depth in those issues that Kareem has because of their age but I think one day he will,” Riley said. “When you’re seeing things from 15 years in the NBA and 10 years prior to that what he saw in Chicago, it definitely formulates a base of reference for you to be able to fall back on, and Dwyane is continuing to get educated by life and he knows to speak to life in a very succinct way.”
Wade said the first time he felt confident enough to speak out was after Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American, was shot and killed in 2012 by a security guard in a gated community in Sanford during a physical altercation between the two. Martin was unarmed.
“That was the first time for me where I really started getting behind a lot of issues, whether it was politics, whether it was tragedies, and I started doing a lot of things in the community,” Wade said.
Then, after losing his cousin in a year in which Chicago saw 762 murders, the most in nearly two decades, Wade participated in a forum at a YMCA in the South Side of Chicago, not far from where he was raised.
“When you go back and trace his early years, he experienced so much and was around so much of that violence in the South Side,” Riley said. “And he was one of the few that was able to use basketball as a way to get out and to express himself and to become somebody who had a voice.
“Is he going to become an activist or would he ever become an activist? I think one day there is a possibility that he could. People believe him. People will follow him.”
Joaquin Oliver certainly would have had his life not been tragically cut short on Valentine’s Day as he sat in a classroom. Joaquin was excited that Wade had returned to the team he helped lead to three championships and will be remembered for when he is one day enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
And although it was just six days since Wade returned to Miami, Joaquin’s joy must have been overwhelming for his parents to make sure the last time they saw their son he was wearing a Dwyane Wade jersey.
“You play this game and you give everything you have to it and at the end people will argue how good you were statistically, are you in the top, are you not, all that bullcrap,” Wade said.
“It really doesn’t matter. Moments like that is really what the impact is about. What you’ve been able to do for others. What joy you’ve been able to bring.”
Wade has reached out to Joaquin’s family, and Jolinda and her daughter, Tragil, visited the Olivers this week.
This is Joaquin Oliver. He was one of the 17 young lives that were lost tragically at Douglas HighSchool in Parkland. Joaquin was one of many that i heard was excited about my return to Miami and yesterday was buried in my jersey. This is why we will not just SHUT up and dribble! pic.twitter.com/X0tfTTao33
Ingraham directed her comments towards James, who is one of many NBA players who is critical of President Trump.
“It’s not the first time I’ve heard that as an athlete,” Wade said. “She said it to one of the biggest athletes in the world and it got picked up. I was glad it was said to LeBron because now that conversation can start even more.
“We’re people. We’re people who have a tremendous talent God’s given us but we still live in our communities, we still deal with tragedy, we still deal with depression, the stress. We still deal with everything that everyone deals with. … We’re no different than other individuals. … So, yeah, our voice needs to be heard for the parents, for the individuals in the school to bring and share light or attention on what needs to be done and how we can help get it done.”
And Jolinda, for one, will continue to encourage her son to preach.
“There’s not really works that can explain how proud I am as his mother to see the young man he has become, through life experiences, being a father, understanding that he has a bigger purpose than just playing basketball,” she said. “For him to be the voice to speak the way he speaks and to share his heart, I love it.”
Spoelstra, 47, was asked to speak about the imminent accomplishment, which could happen Wednesday when the Heat (13-13) return home to face Portland (13-13). He refused. After all, that would be making an assumption and getting ahead of ourselves.
“There’s nothing wrong with that,” said Udonis Haslem, the only man on the Heat roster to play for both coaches. “There’s still a long season ahead of us. The plan this season wasn’t to come in and help Spo break Riles’ record. The plan was to get to the playoffs and see where we can go from there.
“I’m sure he’s thankful he (has) the opportunity to break that record but I know his mind is elsewhere.”
But if there is one thing Spoelstra disdains about this profession is he sometimes has to talk about himself. … talk about how he has risen from video coordinator, a job he took just weeks before Riley arrived in the summer of 1995, through the ranks, to head coach.
The rare times he does speak about his career, Spoelstra always credits his mentors, Riley, Ron Rothstein and Stan Van Gundy.
“I don’t think I could have gotten a better mentorship or preparation working for a Hall of Famer in coach Riley, working for Stan Van Gundy before that, working for Rony Rothstein,” Spoelstra said during training camp. “I don’t think I could have had a better setup to be prepared to take that step to be head coach but ultimately you have to go through it.”
No question, the career Spoelstra’s is linked mostly to is Riley’s, his predecessor and team president who groomed Spoelstra as his successor. And Haslem sees the similarities.
“They still preach defense, Miami Heat culture, their principles are still the same,” said Haslem, the team tri-captain who is in his 15th year with the organization.
“Obviously Spo added some things offensively, some things he wants to do with the way the game is today. But overall, values and principles, defensively, everything is still the same.”
Spoelstra, in his 10th season, was named coach by Riley on April 28, 2008. He enters the Portland game 453-295, a franchise best .606 winning percentage. Riley was 454-395 in 11 seasons as a coach with the Heat, a .535 winning percentage.
Recently several analysts, including ESPN’s Jeff Van Gundy, who like Spoelstra followed Riley (in New York) after working as his assistant, said Spoelstra already has Hall of Fame credentials. Spoelstra and Houston’s Mike D’Antoni shared the inaugural Michael H. Goldberg National Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year award for last season, one voted upon by the coaches. Spoelstra then finished runner-up to D’Antoni in the the NBA’s official Coach of the Year award.
Riley, 72, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008.
Spoelstra has coached the Heat to two titles and four trips to the Finals, all in the Big Three era of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. He already holds the franchise record with 70 postseason wins.
“It’s a hell of an accomplishment,” Haslem said. “I mean, you’re talking about Pat, a Hall of Fame guy. You get mentioned in that conversation or surpass him or break that record, it’s a tribute to Spo and how he’s grown and the work he’s put into it and the product the organization has put out there on the floor.”
MIAMI – Erik Spoelstra was the youngest head coach in the NBA when Pat Riley named the then 37-year-old his successor in 2008.
Now, entering his 10th season, Spoelstra has the franchise record for the highest winning percentage at .609 and is second with 440 victories. He holds the postseason records for 70 victories, .619 winning percentage and 15 series won.
Yet, despite the records and two World Championships, Spoelstra remains haunted by one failure: The seven-game series loss to the Atlanta Hawks in his first season.
“I wish I could go back right now and coach that first year a little bit differently, in particularly that seven-game series,” he said Sunday after being asked if he could go back what kind of advice now would give that rookie coach.
“There’s probably not a two week stretch where I don’t think about that. That’s probably not healthy. But I think you have to go through the experience.”
The Heat were 43-39 and the No. 5 seed after the 2008-09 season. The fourth-seeded Hawks were four games better and had home court for the first-round series. The Heat led the series 2-1, lost the next two games and won Game 6.
The Hawks prevailed at home in Game 7, 91-78. After leading the league in scoring with a 30.2 average, Dwyane Wade led the Heat in the series with 29.1 points per game.
As for that advice, Spoelstra continued:
“I don’t think I could have gotten a better mentorship or preparation working for a Hall of Famer in coach Riley, working for Stan Van Gundy before that, working for Ronny Rothstein,” he said. “I don’t think I could have had a better setup to be prepared to take that step to be head coach but ultimately you have to go through it.
“So a lot of these decisions I would have done differently. It’s easy to say now but when it’s your first time through you just have to go through and make mistakes.
“I probably would have said enjoy it a little bit more.”
Spoelstra is 440-282 overall entering his 10th season, 70-43 in the postseason.
CHARLOTTE – The season is winding down and the Miami Heat are playing meaningful games, which appeared highly unlikely two months ago.
We’ve received questions about playoff and beyond (draft and free agency) in the past weeks. Today we answer one about Erik Spoelstra’s relationship with Pat Riley along with a question about the Heat’s playoff chances.
If you weren’t able to submit a question this week, send them in for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44.
From @MikeTrimWPTV: How hands-on is Pat Riley w/Spoelstra? Seeing Spo’s success it makes me wonder how he learned from a legend
Almost every day, as the Heat are winding down practice and we arrive, Spoelstra is talking with Riley, who watches from a table set up in the Heat’s practice court. Spoelstra and Riley are inextricably linked, with the two arriving months apart in 1995 and being together ever since with Riley holding the titles of coach and president and Spoelstra starting in the video room and working his way up to assistant coach and then head coach.
Just about everything Spoelstra learned about being a head coach has come from Riley (he also credits people like Ron Rothstein and Stan Van Gundy for his development). And now, Riley remains at arm’s length with his door always open to Spoelstra.
Just because they talk and just because Spoelstra has always had Riley around for advice, this team – and all of those that have come before it since Spoelstra took over in 2008 – is Spoelstra’s. Riley has allowed Spoelstra to grow on his own through the many ups and few downs, allowed him to make his mistakes and learn from them while keeping a safe distance when it comes to Spoelstra’s coaching style.
From @ChrisHypeTrain: what has to happen for the Heat to make the playoffs?
Okay, where to start. First, the Heat must win, starting tonight in Charlotte. How many wins in their final five games depends on what the others at the bottom of the East bracket do. Basically, look at four teams – Miami, Indiana, Chicago and Atlanta – fighting for the final two spots.
The Heat are a half game behind the Pacers entering tonight but own the tie-breaker. Indiana beating Toronto Tuesday night hurt Miami but the Pacers still must play Milwaukee and Atlanta and two road games, albeit against Orlando and Brooklyn. So, if Miami wins tonight (which should take care of Charlotte) all it has to do is match however many games Indiana wins the rest of the way and they are in.
Miami is in the same spot with Chicago, the difference being the Bulls have the tie-breaker on the Heat. So the Heat must then gain a game on Chicago to pass the Bulls, which will be tough considering the Bulls’ schedule is much more forgiving. But as we have seen in the last week, no game is a given. Look at Miami and Chicago losing to the Knicks.
The Hawks are fading fast. They have lost 9-of-11 and are sixth, and just two games up on Miami. Atlanta still must play Cleveland twice, Boston, Charlotte and Indiana.
Miami has to beat out one of these team to make it. Can they do it? We will see.
Spoelstra also received love from Hall of Famers Kevin McHale and Isiah Thomas on Monday.
McHale said he didn’t think the Heat would win 25 games and then “they started believing in each other. A lot of that goes to Erik Spoelstra.”
Thomas said the Heat “probably are the most physically fit team in the East.”
The Heat (37-38) have won 26-of-34 games after having the second worst record in the league at 11-30. Miami is No. 7 in the East by virtue of owning the tiebreaker over Indiana, 1.5 games ahead of No. 9 Chicago.
With Atlanta and Milwaukee tied for the fifth and sixth best records in the league (39-36), the Heat are two games out of the fifth spot.
“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.
“He’s an unbelievable coach, and a lot of players, we love to play for him. He’s putting the guys in the right spots and that’s how the players can thrive under his system. And he’s such a great communicator with all the players.”
FanRag picks Spoelstra over Washington’s Scott Brooks and D’Antoni and the praise has come from all corners, including his peers and his boss, Heat president Pat Riley.
Spoelstra, who was named the Eastern Conference’s coach of the month for February, likely has to get the Heat to .500 and into the playoffs to be a serious contender. If he does – and that could happen Friday when Miami returns home to face the Knicks – the Heat would become the first team in NBA history to reach .500 after being 19 games under.
Just three coaches in history have won the award coaching a team that was .500 or below, the most recent being Doc Rivers when his 1999-00 Orlando team finished 41-41 and missed the playoffs by one game.
One coach who won’t be voting for Spoelstra is Golden State’s Steve Kerr, who said Tuesday he believes D’Antoni has earned the honor.
“I think the fit with the roster and Mike’s philosophy has been perfect,” Kerr said Tuesday. “What he’s so good at is really giving his players confidence and belief. They’re obviously having an amazing year. My guess is that he’ll get the trophy. He’s earned it.”
The Coach of the Year award most is voted upon by the media. The National Basketball Coaches Association also recognizes a COY. That award, which will be named after Michael H. Goldberg, the longtime executive director of the NBCA who died in January, is voted upon by the coaches.
PHILADELPHIA – With the Heat on a 13-game winning streak, one NBA coach is touting Miami coach Erik Spoelstra as the best in the league.
Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy, who worked with Spoelstra in Miami, is recognizing what Spoelstra is doing with a team that was thrown together this summer and expected to be in a rebuilding year.
Van Gundy believes nobody is doing it better.
“There’s not a better coach in the league than Erik,” Van Gundy told reporters Friday. “People discounted him because he had LeBron (James), (Dwyane) Wade and (Chris) Bosh. Gregg Popovich is one of the best ever. Phil Jackson best ever. Nobody goes to four straight Finals. Nobody. He did.
“Those other great teams have not. But even before he had those guys, he had them in the playoffs. And now look what he’s doing in Miami.”
Spoelstra has the Heat one game out of eighth and final playoff spot, which currently is held by Van Gundy’s Pistons. And he’s done this with the Heat having lost three players, including Bosh, for the season along with dealing with several other injuries.
Spoelstra has never been named coach of the year. The highest he’s finished is second in 2013.
“I think what Miami has shown is the value of those guys, who are good players and are in a situation where they have to prove something,” Van Gundy said. “Erik’s done a great job of getting those guys to play to their strengths and implementing a system that really works for them. Certainly, in my mind, and there’s a lot of them going on, but certainly in mind, it’s the best coaching job that’s gone on this year.”
The Heat are shooting 49 percent from the floor and a league-best 42 percent on 3-pointers during the streak while having boosted its defensive efficiency to No. 6 in the league. The Heat’s average margin of victory during the streak is 10.5 points, second to the Warriors.
“It’s interesting to see how they’ve transformed,” Van Gundy said. “Because they started the year as a young team and they were going to try and develop these young guys. And they’ve got a few young guys playing, but they’re really being carried by (Goran) Dragic, who’s having a great year, Dion Waiters, James Johnson,(Hassan) Whiteside. The young guys still play some, Okaro White, Tyler Johnson and Rodney McGruder, but they’re really being carried by guys who are sort of veteran, journey-man guys.”
Van Gundy worked for the Heat for more than 10 years, including two-plus years as the head coach with Spoelstra as one of his assistants.
A victory over the 76ers tonight would be Miami’s 14th straight, equaling the second longest in team history, and move the Heat to within one/half game of the eighth spot in the East.
MIAMI — San Antonio’s Greg Popovich is not the only NBA coach speaking out against/mocking Donald Trump and his administration.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr is matching Popovich quote for quote.
Before the Warriors victory at Orlando on Sunday, Kerr was asked about his brief career with the Magic, in which he smiled and was very ‘liberal’ with the use of the word “star.” He was then asked if those were his “alternative facts” about his stay with the Magic.
“Yes, yes, yes,” he said. “Sean Spicer will be talking about my career any second now, 14,000 points, greatest player in Magic history.”
Steve Kerr on his in unmemorable, short Magic career: "Sean Spicer will be talking about my career any second. 14,000 points." pic.twitter.com/XvvuUfKoNW
Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, ripped into the media Saturday for its reporting of the size of the crowd at Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday, saying, “this was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration.”
Kerr, whose Warriors face the Heat tonight at AmericanAirlines Arena played 47 games for Orlando during the 1992-93 season and scored 122 points.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers chimed in on Saturday, referencing Trump during his pregame media session.
Doc Rivers opened his pregame with a Trump joke, saying that it was the largest pregame media gathering in NBA history
Kerr was one of a handful of coaches who blasted Trump after he won the November election. During a nearly three-minute rant the day after the election he said he was disappointed with the lack of respect Trump has shown to so many.
Here is a portion of what he said:
“Maybe we should’ve seen it coming over the last 10 years. You look at society, you look at what’s popular. People are getting paid millions of dollars to go on TV and scream at each other, whether it’s in sports or politics or entertainment, and I guess it was only a matter of time before it spilled into politics. But then all of a sudden you’re faced with the reality that the man who’s gonna lead you has routinely used racist, misogynist, insulting words.”