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Miami Heat players frustrated with Spoelstra, Riley’s shadow looms

Nov 29, 2010, 11:29 AM EST

Spoelstra_cringe

On every struggling team in the NBA there are players frustrated with the coach.

But no other team has the star power or scrutiny of the Miami Heat. And no other team has the long shadow of Pat Riley cast across the organization and the head coach.

So the reports out of ESPN’s Heat Zone today by Chris Broussard that Heat players are frustrated with coach Erik Spoelstra take on a special gravity.

Sources say the players believe he is not letting them be themselves, that they are questioning his offensive strategies, and that they think he is panicking because he fears losing his job.

In contrast to the popular view that Spoelstra has been hesitant to jump on superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, sources say the Heat coach has shown no fear in criticizing them…

“He’s jumping on them,” one source said. “If anything, he’s been too tough on them. Everybody knows LeBron is playful and likes to joke around, but Spoelstra told him in front of the whole team that he has to get more serious. The players couldn’t believe it. They feel like Spoelstra’s not letting them be themselves.”

According to the sources, the Heat players believe Spoelstra’s offensive strategies have been too simplistic. They feel like he is running nothing but pick-and-rolls and telling the Heat’s secondary players to find open spots on the floor for catch-and-shoot jumpers…

“He’s not a motivator,” one of the sources said. “Instead of coaching he’s at the point where the players are starting to sense that he’s fearing for his job.”

The team had a clear-the-air meeting after losing Saturday in Dallas. We’ll see what if any impact that has.

The Heat’s offense has been simplistic and relatively easy to defend, with almost no off-the-ball motion. Teams are packing the paint, the Heat are too happy to settle for long jump shots. They play at a slower pace that does not take advantage of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in transition.

However, the team has little depth and injuries to Udonis Haslem and Mike Miller have made that all the more evident. There are issues with this team right now beyond what any coach can fix, including Wade’s shooting percentage falling 30 points and his PER going from a team carrying 28 last year to a good but not the same 19.5 this season.

Pat Riley does not want to return to the bench, but owner Micky Arison could force the issue, either of his own volition or because players come to him. Wade has gone to Arison before with concerns about the direction of the franchise and the two have a good relationship.

  1. silk32 - Nov 29, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    If the Heat was winning and looked like a championship caliber team, Spoelstra should fear for his job. Now that it’s clear that they are trash, no way Pat Riley would want to take over.

  2. lebronsinsecurity - Nov 29, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    This sh*t is just getting too funny.. Blame the coach, yeah that explains the lack of leadership? The only one showing the smallest sense of leadership is Spoelstra.. First coach in LBJ’s career to have the balls to call him out for not taking things serious..

  3. nbpatsfan - Nov 29, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    Hey Lebron, not only will you never be MJ, you aren’t even KOBE! You’re doomed to be the Arod of the NBA – fold like a cheap suit under pressure. We sure are glad you took your “talents” to south beach. Hahaha. How does it feel to have 6 billion people laughing at you?

  4. hnirobert3 - Nov 29, 2010 at 12:45 PM

    As a Heat fan I do feel bad for Spo. He’s not a bad coach but he’s probably not the right fit for these guys. They need an older coach who’s going to hold his team responsible, someone like a Doc Rivers. Hopefully Pat can right the ship and then reassess the coaching situation in the off season.

  5. davidly - Nov 29, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    Clearly this is all Phil Jackson’s fault.

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