Report: Erik Spoelstra could be worth $20 million a year on the open market

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The going rate for an NBA head coach continues to go up, and the Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra is someone who is going to be able to cash in at some point in the near future, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski said during the NBA Finals.

With Monty Williams securing a six-year deal worth $78.5 million from the Detroit Pistons, the highest for a coach in the NBA, Spoelstra and Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr will soon be able to take advantage of the escalating market.

“It’s going to significantly impact the head coaching landscape for high-level coaches, including Miami’s Erik Spoelstra, Golden State’s Steve Kerr,” Wojnarowski said on NBA Countdown before Game 2 between the Heat and Denver Nuggets. “Both of those coaches with one year left, next season, on their deals. Both I’m told in the $8 million annual range right now.

“And both coaches — when you talk to owners, executives around the league — who if they were on the open market might be worth, might be able to get what the new NFL coach in Denver Sean Payton got, in the neighborhood of $20 million a year. Now it’s hard to imagine Erik Spoelstra leaving a Miami organization where he started 28 years ago as a video intern, where he’s been 15 years as a head coach with two championships, but Steve Kerr’s gonna be a different situation.”

Spoelstra has the Heat back in the Finals and already won the NBA title in 2012 and 2013, in addition to four other Eastern Conference championships (2011, 2014, 2020 and 2023).

Kerr has coached the Warriors to four NBA titles (2015, 2017, 2018 and 2022) with two other trips to the Finals as the Western Conference champs (2016, 2019).

Williams, by way of comparison, has never coached an NBA champion and has reached the NBA Finals once, in 2021 with the Phoenix Suns. He was fired by Phoenix after it lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round this season.

While Wojnarowski does not foresee Spoelstra leaving the Heat, he is not as certain about Kerr re-signing with the Warriors. With team president and general manager Bob Myers recently announcing his departure, and the roster core of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green getting older, Wojnarowski said negotiations on a possible extension for Kerr will be worth watching this summer.

Los Angeles Clippers coach Tyronn Lue is another head coach who will be able to benefit from the changing pay structure created by Williams’ deal, Wojnarowski said.

Spoelstra has done another masterful job getting Miami to this point as only the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals. The Heat responded to win Game 7 against the Boston Celtics in the conference finals, a victory that allowed them to avoid becoming the first team in NBA history to lose a best-of-seven series after taking a 3-0 lead.

Then, after losing Game 1 of the Finals, the Heat made adjustments for Game 2 that paid off with a 111-108 win. It’s that kind of acumen that caused ESPN/ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy to call Spoelstra the greatest head coach in Heat history.

Heading into Game 3 at home on Wednesday, Spoelstra and the Heat are only three victories away from another championship, which could push his future price tag even higher.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. His introduction to the business included the legendary Heat-Knicks rivalry from the 1990s.