Riley: “Not a new culture, but to tightening the screws on a culture that sometimes erodes just a little bit.”
The Heat’s coaching staff will not include Juwan Howard next season.
Howard has been hired to lead his alma mater as the University of Michigan’s new head coach, the school officially announced Wednesday evening. He replaces John Beilein, who left to become head coach of the Cavaliers earlier this month.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to lead the University of Michigan’s storied basketball program,” Howard said in a press release issued by Michigan to announce the news. “I have been very fortunate to be part of a great championship organization in the Miami Heat for the last nine years -- three as a player and six as a coach. It was always going to take something incredibly special to for me to leave Miami; however, I know in my heart this is the right place and the right time.
“As a ‘Michigan Man’ I know the place our program has in college basketball and I embrace the chance to build onto that history and lead us to championships both in the Big Ten and national level. We will continue to develop young men on the court, in the classroom and in the community that our fan base will continue to be proud of.
Howard, 46, agreed to a five-year deal, starting at $2 million annually and with a base salary of $400,000 to become Michigan’s head coach. He’s been on Erik Spoelstra’s coaching staff as a Heat assistant for the past six seasons.
“I’m happy for Juwan, Jenine and his family, and feel he is deserving of this opportunity to coach at the University of Michigan,” Heat president Pat Riley said in a statement issued by the team. “He is going back to a school and a conference in which he is revered. I think it is a great step forward for him and the university, and I wish him nothing but the best, because that’s what he’s given us.”
Spoelstra said in a statement issued by the Heat: “Juwan is an absolute star as a person, player and coach. I feel he is more than ready. He is a terrific leader and mentor, which translates very well to the collegiate level. While we are losing a valuable member of our staff and a great friend, I am happy for him and his family. He will forever be a champion and part of the Heat family and I am excited to see him take the next step.”
Howard’s only previous 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 included working with the Heat’s big men, as he has spent time helping to develop the games of Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo.
With the departure of Howard, the Heat’s coaching staff under Spoelstra includes assistant coaches Dan Craig, Chris Quinn (also director of player development) and Octavio De La Grana (also a player development coach), video coordinator/player development coach Eric Glass, player development coach Anthony Carter and shooting consultant Rob Fodor.
The loss of Howard leaves Quinn and Carter as the only members of the Heat’s coaching staff with NBA playing experience.
Along with prominent former Michigan basketball players Jalen Rose and Chris Webber, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade also publicly advocated for Michigan to hire Howard.
“My guy deserves this opportunity. This will only be right,” Wade tweeted Tuesday night.
James then responded to Wade on Twitter with: “Man WHAT!!!!?? Absolutely the right choice and i hope it becomes a done deal ASAP!! One of my favorite people I’ve ever met at the age of 16 and been around since then.”
Howard played three seasons at Michigan as part of the famous “Fab Five” that led the program to the national title game as freshmen before losing to Duke and also lost the national title game against North Carolina as sophomores. He was chosen with the fifth overall pick in the 1994 NBA Draft.
Before landing the Michigan job, Howard was linked to three NBA coaching vacancies this offseason. His name came up during the head coaching searches for the Cavaliers, Lakers and Timberwolves. But Cleveland hired Beilein, Los Angeles picked former Pacers and Magic coach Frank Vogel to replace Luke Walton and Minnesota promoted interim coach Ryan Saunders to head coach.
Howard played 19 seasons in the NBA for eight different teams. His last three seasons were with the Heat, where he was a part of the 2012 and 2013 championship teams. He joined Miami’s coaching staff immediately after retiring.
THIS AND THAT
▪ As expected, no Heat players were voted on to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams, which were voted on by 100 media members and announced Wednesday. But there were two Heat players among those who received votes but did not earn the honor, with Josh Richardson getting three second-place votes as a guard and Bam Adebayo getting one second-place vote as a center.
The All-Defensive first team is Utah’s Rudy Gobert, Oklahoma City’s Paul George, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, Boston’s Marcus Smart and Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe.
The All-Defensive second team is Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard, Golden State’s Klay Thompson and New Orleans’ Jrue Holiday.
Richardson was the only Heat player who received votes for the league’s All-Defensive teams last season, placing 16th with three first-team votes.
The last Heat player to earn the honor was in 2016, when center Hassan Whiteside was named to the second team.
▪ During a recent appearance on the Five Reasons Sports Network’s flagship podcast, former Heat forward Chris Bosh was asked about the upside of the Heat’s young core that includes Bam Adebayo, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.
“I think the upside is tremendous, but it’s on the players,” Bosh said. “It’s on the players to put the work in, to believe. We can have veterans coming in and telling you what your potential is and all that stuff, but if they don’t see it in themselves first then it’s not really going to transpire. I think the upside is tremendous, man. But they have to do the things that it takes to win — team building, working hard. That was one of the things I was kind of disappointed in with the guys is that I didn’t feel that anybody was really, really taking the bull by the horns to be the new leader.
“I said, ‘Guys, who’s going to lead when Dwyane [Wade] is gone? Dwyane is leaving, guys. The legend of Miami is not going to play basketball anymore.’ So it’s going to be a new era. So who’s going to lead that new era and collectively there should be a spirit within the locker room no matter how young you are.”