Heat’s Spoelstra signs richest contract in history for NBA coach

Erik Spoelstra entered this season in the final year of his contract with the Miami Heat. But any uncertainty surrounding Spoelstra’s future with the organization past this season has now been erased.

Spoelstra signed a new eight-year contract extension on Tuesday to remain the Heat’s head coach, according to a league source. The deal is worth more than $100 million, the source said, which is the most committed money in NBA coaching history.

The contract also makes Spoelstra one of the NBA’s highest-paid coaches on an annual basis. San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich (signed a five-year contract worth $80 million this past offseason) and Detroit Pistons coach Monty Williams (signed a six-year, $78.5 million deal this past offseason) entered this season at the top of that list.

Spoelstra, who is in the middle of his 16th season as the Heat’s head coach, has established himself as one of the NBA’s top coaches.

Promoted to head coach prior to the 2008-09 season, Spoelstra is the second-longest active tenured head coach with one team behind only Popovich.

In Spoelstra’s first 15 seasons as head coach, the Heat finished with a losing record just twice. He has compiled a 725-506 regular-season record in that time, leading the Heat to to six NBA Finals appearances and two NBA championships in 2012 and 2013.

The Heat has qualified for the playoffs 12 times in Spoelstra’s first 15 seasons at the helm, including in each of the last four seasons.

This season, the Heat entered Wednesday night’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Kaseya Center in fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings with a 21-15 record.

As far as the Heat record books, Spoelstra is already the the winningest head coach in franchise history in both the regular season (725 wins) and playoffs (109 wins). He passed his predecessor, current Heat president Pat Riley, on both lists.

Spoelstra holds the fourth-most wins by a head coach with one team in NBA history behind only Red Auerbach with the Boston Celtics, Jerry Sloan with the Utah Jazz and Popovich with the Spurs.

Spoelstra is also just the third head coach in NBA history to coach 1,000-plus games with only one team, joining Popovich and Al Attles with the Golden State Warriors.

More proof of Spoelstra’s excellence: In the 2023 NBA preseason survey of general managers, Spoelstra nearly swept the coaching categories for the second straight season. He was voted the best head coach in the NBA (73 percent of vote), best manager/motivator of people (37 percent), the head coach who makes the best in-game adjustments (43 percent) and head coach with the best defensive schemes (40 percent).

Spoelstra, 53, has worked for the Heat since being hired as a video coordinator in 1995 — the same year Riley joined the organization. After serving as video coordinator, he was promoted to assistant coach before working his way up to head coach.

This story was originally published January 9, 2024, 8:36 PM.

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Anthony Chiang covers the Miami Heat for the Miami Herald. He attended the University of Florida and was born and raised in Miami.

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