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Detroit Pistons Coach Dreams: Erik Spoelstra

Essentials

Age: 40

Current Job: Head Coach, Miami Heat (2008-present)

Previous experience:

  • Assistant Coach/Director of Scouting, Miami Heat (2001-08)
  • Assistant Coach/Advance Scout, Miami Heat (1999-2001)
  • Assistant Coach/Video Coordinator, Miami Heat (1997-99)
  • Video Coordinator, Miami Heat (1995-97)

Pros

If there’s a self-made coach in the NBA, it’s Spoelstra. I don’t think anyone gets started in an NBA front office without connections, and he used his dad’s friendship with Chris Wallace to get in the door. But once on the ladder, Spoelstra climbed it on his own.

He’s extremely bright and hard working – the ultimate combination for a potential NBA coach. What separates the coaches who stick from those who don’t is the inter-personal skills necessary to keep their players happy. After surviving a year with the Big Three and all the scrutiny that comes with coaching that high-profile team, I think Spoelstra has that.

He’s a wonderful defensive coach. Before Miami signed LeBron James, one of the league’s best defenders, and before Joel Anthony was ready for consistent minutes, the Heat still had a strong defense. With players like Mario Chalmers, Michael Beasley, Quentin Richardson, Daequan Cook and limpy Jermaine O’Neal receiving big minutes, the Heat finished 11th and sixth in defensive rating the previous two years. This year, they continued their upward trend to fifth.

Cons

Spoelstra has had plenty of hiccups. He was out-coached by Rick Carlisle in the Finals, and he never should have said the Heat were crying in the locker room after a regular-season loss. He’s young and a first-time coach, and he’s going to make more mistakes.

He’s also not available right now, and I don’t think he will become available. He’s certainly not leaving the Heat, next year’s title favorites, on his own. But ESPN’s David Thorpe predicts they’ll fire him. It certainly wouldn’t shock anyone.

Verdict

I don’t think the Heat will fire Spoelstra, but on the chance they do, I’d delay the coaching search to have a shot at him. He’d top my list.

Most of the Pistons other candidates are available only because other teams don’t want them. That’s not the case with Spoelstra – and for good reason. He’s a rising star in the profession.

19 Comments

  • Jun 13, 20114:02 pm
    by Reaction

    Reply

    Awesome! Not to sound bad in anyway, I kinda hope he gets fired just so that Dumars can get him for us! He is a tremendous coach and would bring a lot to our team.

  • Jun 13, 20114:30 pm
    by rob

    Reply

    I agree Feldman, he would definitely be the top candidate is he were fired.

    I think Joe needs to call up Riley and find out what they are going to do. It would be doing Riley a favor, as well as he doing one for us.  If there was any way for Riley to feel good about firing him after getting to the Finals, it would be the assurance that he has another job waiting for him with another great organization.

    Joe needs to tell Riley he wants Spoelstra and has 2 weeks to decide, before the lockout. Otherwise, there will be no more coach openings and Riley would be putting Spoelstra on out the street with no job.

    Its rare to find a 40 yr old coach with Finals experience. He took the 15 win 2008 Heat to 43 wins and the playoffs in his first season with nothing but Wade and a bunch of scrubs.

    ppl will say Wade, LeBron, and Bosh are the reason he got to the Finals, but I tihnk they got their with great team defense, and that is the head coach’s credit more so than the players.

    I mean, he’s got every criteria that Joe is looking for –

    1) He’s young.

    2) He’s proven he can turn around a bad team in one season.

    3) He’s a defense-first coach.

    4) And best of all, he has playoff/Finals experience, so when he does get them back to winning, by then he might have the experience to be the “closer” coach as well. Meaning he might not just be a set-up guy.
     
    It would be a win-win for both teams, Riley get an “out” to fire him and take over, and we get a great young coach.

  • Jun 13, 20117:19 pm
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    even though he just got schooled i would still hire him. He is growing. He communicates. He teaches defense.

    i would be shocked if Miami fired him.

    • Jun 14, 201111:24 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      I would guess they’ll let him go during the season next year the way Riley did with Stan Van Gundy, if he lets him go at all. I don’t think Riley has any desire to coach an entire season/offseason anymore.

  • Jun 13, 20119:59 pm
    by I can't take it anymore

    Reply

    WTF… why would anyone hire a guy who has been castrated by his players?
     
    You are the same people that keeps thinking Doug Collins is a good idea even after Jordan castrated him.
     
    This frog faced kid isn’t a good coach.  He’s a patsy that gets walked on every day by his players.

    • Jun 14, 201111:27 am
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      That’s craziness. He might not be the right coach for a star-studded team like Miami currently has, but look at the roster Spoelstra worked with last year — Wade and a bunch of guys on expiring contracts. He got that very flawed team to the playoffs and they gave Boston an incredibly tough series in the first round.

      Spoelstra’s exactly the kind of coach Detroit needs — a guy who can coax maximum effort out of a roster that isn’t complete.

      And also, how exactly did he get walked on by his players? If I remember correctly, there were complaints about him early in the season, he stuck to his guns, and the players adapted by season’s end.

      • Jun 14, 201110:54 pm
        by I can't take it anymore

        Reply

        There is a tool for every job.
         
        If you need a guy with OK X’s and O’s willing to not actually be the head coach and leader of his team (is there any question that LeBron and Wade don’t run the show?).  Hire this guy.  Hire Lawrence Frank.  Hell, hire coach Q, he’d likely work in a role like that.  But DON’T pretend these guys know anything about coaching up a team and leading.
         
        Spoelstra would be a terrible hire and I’m surprised this isn’t obvious to you.
         

  • Jun 13, 201110:07 pm
    by mike

    Reply

    adelman..lawrence frank..if you dont hire any of them.joe dumars should be fired

  • Jun 14, 201112:56 am
    by JAMES

    Reply

    IT’S LBJ’S EGO WHO MESSED UP THE FINAL GAME…..ERIK SPOELSTRA IS ONE OF THE SMARTEST COACH IN THE NBA TODAY AND PAT RILEY KNOWS WHAT HE IS DOING…

  • Jun 14, 20111:49 am
    by Reaction

    Reply

    Seriously some of the people who post on this site are just ridiculously stupid. I don’t understand what crosses their minds. They go high on a coach that they claim will be successful and then when he is a failure they say they never wanted him. I know for a fact that Erik Spoelstra will be a great coach and he will be successful in the NBA(he already is). Also all the analysts have even stated that if it were not for his brillant coaching the Heat would have been eliminated earlier and that he just gets the brunt of it all. Ridiculous

    • Jun 14, 20119:16 am
      by I can't take it anymore

      Reply

      The “analysts” you hear on T.V. is always watered down crap for mass consumption.
      Spoelstra has proven nothing except he can take it in the arse and be walked on with a smile by a player run team.

      • Jun 14, 20119:49 am
        by Reaction

        Reply

        He has proven more than any of the other so called “great coaches” you guys want and he’s young.

        • Jun 14, 201110:57 pm
          by I can't take it anymore

          Reply

          What has Spoelstra proven (besides he is willing to be a patsy)?
           
          Who the hell do you think I want?
           
           

      • Jun 14, 201111:31 am
        by Patrick Hayes

        Reply

        Again, I just want to point out: anyone who thinks Spo can’t coach, go look at his playoff team from last year. Look at that roster, look at their defensive numbers and look at the series they gave Boston despite having way less talent. Spoelstra can coach. He made some mistakes this season, as Dan pointed out, but he’s also extremely bright and he has a track record of success. If Miami were silly enough to let him go, he’d instantly be the top candidate for virtually any opening that arises in the league this year or next.

        • Jun 14, 201110:50 pm
          by I can't take it anymore

          Reply

          We need a guy that players respect.  Spoelstra is laughed at by his own players almost daily.  The team is a player run team and Spoelstra gets to be a glorified coordinator.  Pretending like he could command a team that needs leadership is outright laughable.  Spoelstra is just another Lawrence Franks.  Fine if you just want a good x and o guy with zero leadership (because your team already has leadership and won’t respect you if you try and command it anyhow).
           
          “If Miami were silly enough to let him go, he’d instantly be the top candidate for virtually any opening that arises in the league this year or next.”

          Laughable comment.  Where is Lawrence Frank a head coach today?

          • Jun 15, 201110:51 am
            by Patrick Hayes

            Prove that “Spoelstra is laughed at by his own players almost daily” with actual evidence of this.

            “Spoelstra is just another Lawrence Franks.  Fine if you just want a good x and o guy with zero leadership (because your team already has leadership and won’t respect you if you try and command it anyhow).”

            How do you know those guys have zero leadership? Frank took the Nets to the playoffs several times and has interviewed with at least three different teams this offseason for their head coaching job. Spoelstra has led a team to the playoffs two straight years, including last year when the Heat had a terrible roster other than Wade.

            I have no problem with someone arguing that maybe Spoelstra wouldn’t be a good fit in Detroit. But your contentions are purely based on your own personal speculation and not backed up by any actual facts. Find me instances of Miami’s players openly complaining about or disrespecting Spoelstra this season. Find me one quote during the playoffs of players suggesting it was Spoelstra’s fault they lost.

            Spoelstra is well-respected in the league, worked his ass off to become a head coach and was two games from winning a NBA championship this season. He’s still young, but has a track record as a head coach that most any head coaching candidate would gladly take.

  • Jun 14, 20113:41 am
    by steve

    Reply

    he doesnt seem genuine…  he seems like lebron and d wade as he is about as real as a 3 dollar bill.  of course not as bad as queen and wade though.  but thats why i wouldnt hire him.

  • Jun 15, 20111:06 pm
    by I can't take it anymore

    Reply

    “”"Prove that “Spoelstra is laughed at by his own players almost daily” with actual evidence of this.”"”"

    Just watch ANY heat game from this year.  They disrespected the coach in little ways continually worse than the disrespected Flip got here in Detroit.  Watch LeBron purposely shoulder Spoelstra when he feels like it.  Google is your friend.

    “”"How do you know those guys have zero leadership? “”"

    Shouldn’t they have to show they have leadership skills and it not be assumed they have them?  They have not proven that in the slightest.  Being a patsy for a player run team hardly helps their case.

    “”"”Frank took the Nets to the playoffs several times and has interviewed with at least three different teams this offseason for their head coaching job. “”"”

    No, Kidd took the Nets to the playoffs several times.  Tell me why is Frank an assistant coach right now after his stellar W/L record?

    “”"”Spoelstra has led a team to the playoffs two straight years, including last year when the Heat had a terrible roster other than Wade.”"”"

    Delusional.  Wade (and then LeBron) led this team to the playoffs two straight years.  Spoelstra is merely and OK x’s and o’s guy.

    A young rebuilding Pistons team needs a leader and a teacher.  Nothing suggests Spoelstra has either of these attributes.  Maybe Spoeltra is a solid coordinator X and O type.  Maybe he is lucky to have Wade and now LeBron.  But he has NOT proven, in the slightest, he can lead a team that needs leadership.  Did you see what happened to Franks when he tried to coach a team without player leadership?

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