Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra is expected to take over Pat Riley's role, or at least some of his powers, when the team's president retires.
That is according to ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst, who has predicted that the coach will perform a dual role when the legendary figure relieves himself from his duties as the Heat's decision-maker.
Spoelstra is one of the most respected coaches in the NBA, something which has prompted Windhorst to suggest that there will be other teams offering the role as both president and coach to the 48-year-old if Miami doesn't choose to go that route.
Heat Could Give Erik Spoelstra More Front Office Power When Pat Riley Retires https://t.co/45pir7kNIM— RealGM (@RealGM) January 9, 2019
"In the meantime, at some point, Erik Spoelstra is a likely candidate to get some or all of Pat Riley's powers as Miami Heat president when Riley decides to retire," the reporter writes. "If for some reason he doesn't, some team will probably be interested in hiring him for both jobs elsewhere to get him away from the Heat. So it goes in the NBA."
Riley has been the Heat's president since 1995 and has overseen three NBA titles, including one as their head coach, having performed two stints in the role. The shrewd operator is now 74 and hasn't revealed when he plans to retire; and, with the post-Dwyane Wade era quickly approaching, he could be gearing up for another huge challenge.
Adversely, he might not be so keen on sticking around. While there are older executives in the league right this moment, Riley could decide to call it quits soon, leaving the Heat with a huge gap to fill.
There would be no better candidate than Spoelstra, who has been the team's head coach since 2008. Spo joined the Heat the same year as Riley, starting as a video assistant then working his way up the ladder.
By 1997, he was already assistant coach, going on to become part of the team who brought Miami their first championship in 2006 under Riley's tutelage and serving in the role until he was promoted to head coach two years later. Since then, the Illinois native has won two more titles, having registered an impressive 503-340 record during his 11-year stint at the helm.
What This Means
Dual president-coach roles haven't been very successful in the NBA. The likes of Stan Van Gundy, Doc Rivers, and the recently axed Tom Thibodeau underline as much. However, San Antonio Spurs icon Gregg Popovich is a notable exception.
Pop, though, wasn't handed the president's role from the start, unlike Van Gundy and Thibodeau, so the model could work for the Heat and Spoelstra, especially given his vast experience as a coach and his many years of being Riley's right-hand man.