Miami Heat

With departure of Juwan Howard, who will coach Heat big men? A look at void left behind

Riley: “Not a new culture, but to tightening the screws on a culture that sometimes erodes just a little bit.”

Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks to the media during the season-ending press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday April 13, 2019 in Miami.
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Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks to the media during the season-ending press conference at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Saturday April 13, 2019 in Miami.

Erik Spoelstra has a decision to make this offseason, and it has to do with his coaching staff.

The departure of Juwan Howard has left a void on Spoelstra’s staff, with Howard moving on to become the head coach at the University of Michigan after spending the past six seasons as a Heat assistant coach.

Howard’s duties in Miami included working with the Heat’s big men, as he spent time helping to develop the games of Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo. After all, Howard has the experience of playing as an NBA big man following a 19-year career in the league.

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With the loss of Howard, the Heat’s coaching staff under Spoelstra is left with 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.

Quinn and Carter are now the only members of the Heat’s coaching staff with NBA playing experience, and both were guards.

The Miami Herald reported Thursday that former Heat forward Malik Allen is a candidate to fill Howard’s spot on Spoelstra’s coaching staff, and The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported Friday that Allen “has emerged as a prime contender” for the job. Allen, 40, spent this past season as an assistant coach with the Timberwolves, and he’s still on Minnesota’s staff even after a coaching change was made from Tom Thibodeau to Ryan Saunders.

Allen, who spent the first three-plus seasons of his NBA playing career with the Heat, also spent four seasons from 2014-18 as an assistant coach with the Pistons under former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy.

Seemingly with a need for an assistant coach who has NBA playing experience as a big man and/or experience coaching big men, there are three people who fit that requirement already close to the organization — Alonzo Mourning, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem. But in the past, none have expressed a desire to take on a full-time coaching role.

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Mourning, who spent 11 seasons playing for the Heat as a center, has served as the Heat’s vice president of player programs for the past 10 seasons. Mourning, 49, has stuck to front-office work since his playing career came to an end, occasionally working with the Heat’s big men after practice.

Bosh, who had his No. 1 jersey retired by the Heat this past season, has been around the organization a fair amount during the past six months after his playing career came to an unexpected end three years ago because of blood clot issues. The Heat even posted a video of Bosh working 1-on-1 with Adebayo on the team’s practice court last week.

There are some close to the Heat’s current big men who believe Bosh would make a quality coach. But in an interview with the Miami Herald in March, Bosh said coaching didn’t necessarily interest him.

“I want to be involved in basketball in some sort of way. But coaching, probably not,” Bosh said. “I don’t know what the front office entails too much, so I haven’t done much deliberating on that one. I haven’t thought too much about it. But I love basketball. I know that I have a catalog of information that I know people will find useful. I can say that, with team building and building yourself up individually. So I do have skills in bringing out the best in people. I work on that constantly every day, so I know I do have things that people would find attractive. I’m just sitting on it and waiting.”

As for Haslem, he’s still deciding whether to return for a 17th NBA season or retire. But he has also made it clear in the past that, while he wants to remain a part of the Heat organization when his playing career comes to an end, coaching isn’t necessarily the role he’s looking for.

“I don’t want to do coaching, the coaching is not for me,” Haslem said last offseason. “Being in the locker room and being able to have that raw side where I can still be a player and I can still be brutally honest and I don’t have to be politically correct or play the political side of things. It gives me a little more leeway to communicate with my guys being a player, as opposed to a coach.

“More so than anything, I just want to be a part of the organization. We haven’t really defined a role or I haven’t defined a role. But I’m going to be a part of the organization. I’ve laid down a lot of groundwork, the roots.”

Among other potential options to coach big men are former Heat forward and TV analyst Ed Pinckney, who was not retained by the Timberwolves as an assistant coach this offseason, and former Heat forward James Posey, who has spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers but could be in for a change this offseason with new Cleveland head coach John Beilein still building his staff.

Former Heat center Jamaal Magloire could be another option, but he’s currently a basketball development consultant/community ambassador with the Raptors.


The NBA and NBPA announced Friday that teams can begin negotiating with free agents at 6 p.m. on June 30 — six hours earlier than the previous start time of 12:01 a.m. on July 1.

Teams also will be permitted to communicate with free agents or their representatives beginning at 6 p.m. on June 29 solely for the purpose of scheduling a meeting to take place at or after 6 p.m. on June 30.

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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.