Erik Spoelstra on Miami Heat’s Rotations: ‘I Don’t Know If I Am Making the Right Decisions’

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The Miami Heat’s lineup this season has been an ever-changing process, primarily because of injuries and delays in players returning from past concerns. That’s left Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra unsure whether his decisions have always served the team well.

The similar abilities of the available players and Spoelstra’s skill in using them to the Heat’s advantage have him fully aware that such decisions aren’t always going to work:

“The rotation is complex. I’m the first to admit I don’t know if I am making the right decisions. But there has to be a decision at some point. And, so, somebody’s going to have to sit.”

One player who understands the headaches that come with making decisions that inevitably cause turmoil is veteran guard Dwyane Wade. The retiring legend sympathized with Spoelstra’s plight:

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“I wouldn’t want to be in his position. Coaching is hard, man. It’s easy coaching if you don’t have much talent on your team. But if you’ve got guys who have talent and can help you play, it’s tough. We’ve got a lot of guys that Coach can play. And you can’t play everybody. There’s no way. It’s not possible.

“If you want guys to be in a rhythm, you want guys not to be angry all the time because they’re not getting the minutes, they’re getting pulled here and there. It’s tough. And somebody is going to be the person or some couple of people are going to be the odd man out.”

When Wade was deciding whether or not to return this season, he spoke with Spoelstra about what his status would be and how it would affect his coach’s decisions:

“We talked about it when we sat down in my house and we talked about me coming back. I knew that with the roster, I was going to be another person that was going to be added to that mix. I was going to take some minutes from guys, as well.

“But you say that’s why he gets paid the big bucks, but it’s not easy. And I think he’s done a good job of trying to communicate with guys that, ‘Hey this is not the direction we’re going in right now, but always stay ready and be ready.'”

Wade noted how that the ramifications of any coach’s decisions regarding playing time can result in dissension that can be damaging:

“There’s so many things that can hinder a team. A team is so fragile, and so many things that can break a team apart, not allow a team to play to its full potential. There’s a lot of decision that goes into it every day.

“And guys who are playing, we don’t really understand what goes into it, because you want to play. You don’t really care about why this and that — you just want to play. So, yes, it definitely can hinder the team.”

Spoelstra and the Heat are currently 24-24 on the year and currently have the seventh-best record in the Eastern Conference. They begin a three-game homestand on Wednesday night when they host the Chicago Bulls that’s followed by a six-game road trip that extends just past next month’s All-Star break.
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Brad Sullivan is a freelance writer for, having been an avid fan of NBA basketball for more than four decades. During that time, he's watched the Heat evolve from gestation period to expansion team all the way to three-time NBA champions. He'll follow their quest toward again reaching those lofty heights, and do so by offering some perspective along the way.