10 Jan

Heat sign Erik Spoelstra to record-breaking $120 million contract, per report

Erik Spoelstra is widely considered to be one of the best coaches in the NBA, if not the best, and now he has a record-breaking contract to go with his lofty status.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Miami Heat have signed Spoelstra to an eight-year extension worth more than $120 million, which, per ESPN, is not just the highest amount of money that has ever been committed to an NBA coach, but any North American coach of any sport.

Gregg Popovich, who signed an $80 million extension with the San Antonio Spurs this past summer, makes the most per year with an average annual salary of $16M, but the length of this extension gives Spoelstra, who will make roughly $15M annually, the total-money title.

Next on the list is Detroit’s Monty Williams at an AAV of just over $13M ($78.5 million over six years), and Golden State’s Steve Kerr at $9.5M per year.

Unlike Williams, who is getting paid a ridiculous amount of money to lead a Pistons team that is 3-34 and just got off a 28-game losing streak, Spoelstra has consistently justified this kind of commitment over his 15-plus-year career as Miami’s head man.

Spoelstra, who is 53 years old, has led the Heat to six NBA Finals appearances and two championships. He consistently squeezes the absolute most out of whatever roster he is afforded — injuries and/or key-player departures notwithstanding.

People have tried to write the Heat off damn near every season since LeBron James left, and all they’ve done is go to two more NBA Finals. This year, after they fell short on a Damian Lillard trade and lost their Finals-starting backcourt of Gabe Vincent and Max Strus without replacing either of them, Miami was the popular pick for regression again.

Nope. They’re 21-15, tied in the loss column with the Knicks for a top-four seed, despite Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo missing a combined 22 games.

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Nobody develops players like Spoelstra and the Heat. Duncan Robinson, who is enjoying a resurgence this season, was undrafted. Same for the aforementioned Vincent and Strus as well as Caleb Martin, who was instrumental in the Finals run last season by outplaying Jaylen Brown in the Eastern Conference finals.

Whatever, or whoever, you give Spoelstra to work with, he’s going to turn it into a winning team. He is an incredible coach, everything from his demeanor and professionalism to the way he handles star players and undrafted players alike, to his in-game adjustments, rotational decisions and timeout usage. Literally, everything that bugs fans of other teams about their coach, Spoelstra does it right.

Again, he’s one of the best coaches in all of sports, and now he’s got the money to prove it.

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