MIAMI — Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat have agreed on a contract extension, ensuring that the longest-tenured coach in franchise history only keeps adding to his team records for many years to come.
Spoelstra signed an eight-year extension worth around $120 million — the largest contract in NBA history in terms of total value for a coach — according to a person with knowledge of the agreement who spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the terms were not revealed publicly.
Spoelstra’s current deal expires after this season.
Spoelstra is in his 16th season as head coach in Miami and his 29th season overall with the franchise. He started in the video room and eventually becoming a scout, an assistant coach and then Pat Riley’s hand-picked successor as head coach in April 2008.
Spoelstra was 24 when he arrived in Miami. He’s 53 now and has three NBA championship rings, two of them coming as Miami’s head coach. He has taken the Heat to the NBA Finals six times, including last season.
Spoelstra is the league’s second-longest-tenured current coach behind San Antonio’s Gregg Popovich, who is in his 28th season as coach of the Spurs. Spoelstra’s 725 regular-season wins rank 19th in NBA history and only three coaches — Popovich with the Spurs, Jerry Sloan with Utah and Red Auerbach with Boston — have won more games with one franchise than Spoelstra has with the Heat.
Spoelstra is also an assistant coach for USA Basketball in this Olympic cycle and will be part of head coach Steve Kerr’s staff at the Paris Games this summer. Spoelstra will likely be among the top candidates to take over the Olympic team for the next cycle that will culminate at the 2028 Los Angeles Games.
“We’re about the sweat and the grind,” Spoelstra said before this season began. “It’s about when nobody’s watching. We have a saying at the Heat: ‘There’s a beauty in the grind, there’s a beauty in the sweat.’ That’s about what happens behind the scenes.”
Among Spoelstra’s highlights — a 27-game winning streak on the way to a 66-16 record in the 2012-13 season (the winning streak was the second-longest such run in NBA history), the 2012 and 2013 NBA titles with the teams led by LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and nine NBA coach of the month awards. During Spoelstra’s tenure in Miami, no coach in the league has more postseason victories; he has 109, 10 more than Kerr has had with Golden State.
The Heat put a premium on stability, and few franchises in sports have enjoyed as much on that front as Miami has. There have only been six coaches in the franchise’s 36 years; Ron Rothstein was the original coach for three years, followed by Kevin Loughery for parts of four years until Alvin Gentry took over on an interim basis to finish the 1994-95 season.
That’s when Riley came to Miami from New York. He coached until 2003, then promoted Stan Van Gundy from the assistant role to the head coach spot. Van Gundy resigned 21 games into his third season, Riley returned to the bench to lead the Heat to their first NBA title in 2006, and then Riley stepped aside again after the 2007-08 campaign to give Spoelstra the job.
There hasn’t been another change since. Spoelstra passed Riley (454) as the franchise’s win leader in December 2017 and now has nearly as many wins as the other five Heat coaches combined.
“We’ve had incredible stability and consistency over the years,” Spoelstra said this past fall, when asked about how he’s remained with the Heat for so long. “I’ve been very fortunate to work for who I work for.”