Heat

Miami Heat rewards Erik Spoelstra with contract extension

 

Coach Erik Spoelstra signed a contract extension with the Heat, bringing stability to a franchise that awaits big decisions from LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra signed a multiyear extension to his contract Sunday, the team announced.

Spoelstra was entering the last season of his contract after leading the Heat to three consecutive NBA Finals, including back-to-back titles. The Heat begins work for its three-peat bid Tuesday with the start of training camp. The first four days of camp are being held at Atlantis Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

With the Heat’s core of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all facing contract decisions after this season, solidifying Spoelstra’s future was a significant first step toward bringing stability to the equation.

James, Wade and Bosh can all opt out of their contracts after this season.

Spoelstra wasn’t available for comment Sunday, but the Heat’s preseason media day is Monday. Spoelstra and the team’s players will take team photos inside AmericanAirlines Arena and also participate in interviews with reporters before flying to the Bahamas.

Many story lines

Other than Spoelstra’s contract extension, here are a list of prominent story lines that will be discussed when players meet with reporters for the first time since the end of June:

• The biggest question all season will be whether James plans to return to the Heat after this season. It’s a question that likely will be asked Monday, but will go unanswered all season.

If the Heat wins its third championship in a row, logic would dictate that James stays in Miami, but when did conventional wisdom ever stop the speculation of James’ future from taking on a life of its own?

• Wade’s offseason knee treatment will be a hot topic. Wade had shockwave therapy on his knee, which troubled him throughout the end of the regular season and the entire postseason. He said last week he was pain-free, but he also might be limited toward the beginning of training camp.

Wade’s weight

Based on photos, Wade appears to have lost a significant amount of weight in the offseason. Team president Pat Riley asked Wade to drop a few pounds in the hopes of taking some pressure off of his knees. How much weight Wade exactly lost will be a popular question.

• Family matters will take center stage. Bosh is expecting his third child, and James and Udonis Haslem married longtime girlfriends this offseason.

• Chris “Birdman” Andersen returns for his first full season with the Heat after signing in January and helping lead the team to a championship over the San Antonio Spurs. Andersen’s was named a victim of a bizarre Internet scam a few weeks ago. The details of the story will certainly create a buzz at media day.

• Greg Oden is attempting a comeback. The former overall No. 1 pick hasn’t played in an NBA game since 2009 and has had three surgeries to correct microfracturing in his knees. How much Oden expects to contribute and how soon will be topics of discussion.

Beasley returns

• Former Heat No. 2 overall draft pick Michael Beasley is back on the team with a nonguaranteed deal. His steady fall from grace and his apparent inability stay clean is a curiosity for fans.

There are many more story lines heading into the season, which is nothing new for the Heat. Spoelstra’s grace under pressure as the Heat’s coach, his knack for getting the best out of James and his ability to shield his players from a constant swirl of potential distractions are major reasons he is considered one of the best young coaches in the league.

In offering Spoelstra his extension, the Heat wanted to reward its homegrown talent with security, but also perhaps signal to the rest of the league that he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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