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Heat Frustrated With Spoelstra

November 29, 2010

No question, Erik Spoelstra is headed on his way out. Heat players are taking the easy way out by blaming the coaching staff, but no one effects the game more than them. Riley will return soon. Hopefully, Heat players are wishing upon a good star.

From ESPN:

The Miami Heat’s players are frustrated with Erik Spoelstra and some are questioning whether he is the right coach for their team, according to people close to the situation.

With the ballyhooed Heat losing four of their last five games and sporting a mediocre 9-8 record, the players are privately grumbling about Spoelstra on several fronts.

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.

Exhibit A was a recent shootaround in which Spoelstra told James that he had to get more serious. The source said Spoelstra called James out in front of the entire team, telling him, “I can’t tell when you’re serious.”

“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.”

It is not known whether the players voiced their concerns about Spoelstra during their players-only meeting following Saturday’s loss at Dallas. Nor is it apparent whether the bump between James and Spoelstra during a timeout in that game was accidental or a result of tension between the two.

Following the loss Saturday to Dallas, Wade said: “I never would put anything on the coach — win, lose or draw — because they can give us the game plan but they’re not on the court playing. … Now it’s time to take ownership. This is our team, even though we respect our coaches for what they do.”

Spoelstra was not immediately available for comment. The Heat has a shootaround Monday morning in preparation for a game against Washington later in the day.

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.

The sources said the players also think the constant speculation about Spoelstra’s job security is getting to the third-year coach and that he has resorted to nitpicking over minor details because of it.

“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.”

“I don’t worry about changes,” Wade said on Saturday. “I can’t control them. Only thing we can control is our effort and the way we play.”

Several people close to the situation said Wade definitely does not want team president Pat Riley to come down to the sidelines. Sources also said that while recruiting players this past summer, Riley insisted that he would not coach the team.

“Riley kept saying ‘Spoelstra’s a good coach and he’ll grow into a great coach,’ ” a source said. “He said he got his coaching break [with the Los Angeles Lakers] around the same age as Spoelstra got his.”

It is widely believed that Riley does not want to coach this season. However, one source said that privately Riley has at times been critical of the Heat’s game-planning.

While expectations around the league have started to lessen for the Heat because of their struggles, the sources said the players still have a championship-or-bust mentality for this season and that they are open to whatever changes are necessary to get there.

While the players think that may mean a coaching change, one member of the Heat organization said the team is suffering from a lack of leadership from the players, not the coach.

“They don’t want to step on each other’s toes,” the person said. “There’s no leader on the team. Somebody has to speak up and be the leader on the team. They can’t be afraid to step on people’s toes. They need a vocal leader who’s going to make everybody accountable. I don’t think it’s on the coach. It’s on the players.”

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