Miami Heat assistant Caron Butler says he dreams of becoming head coach in NBA

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Caron Butler has been a successful assistant coach with the Miami Heat for three seasons now, and the 43-year-old wants to someday turn that experience into a head-coaching position in the NBA.

“That’s the dream,” he said of that goal to the Miami Herald. “I’m continuing to be in basketball school and learning from some of the best minds to ever coach the game of basketball.”

Butler was the No. 10 overall pick by the Heat in the 2002 NBA Draft and played two seasons for them before being traded away in the deal that brought Shaquille O’Neal to Miami.

The University of Connecticut product played 14 seasons in the NBA for nine teams, with his longest stint being with the Washington Wizards. The forward was a durable player who averaged more than 66 games per season prior to his final 2015-16 campaign.

After his playing career ended, Butler tried his hand at various basketball broadcasting jobs before Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra called him about joining his staff, which he did prior to the 2020-21 NBA season.

“It didn’t take long for Butler to realize that coaching was for him,” wrote Anthony Chiang. “He noted that ‘probably about four months in [to his Heat coaching tenure] that I just knew this is what I want to do.'”

The Heat have gone from a first-round series loss to an Eastern Conference Finals loss to an NBA Finals loss in Butler’s three seasons as an assistant. There’s only one more step to take, and that would be winning an NBA championship.

“That’s when you know it’s something that you really, really want to do, when you can’t see yourself not doing it,” Butler said of coaching. “I got to that point, where I just can’t see myself not trying to come up with solutions to some of these problems and some of these things that other teams pose to us. It’s like, I got to continue to wrap my mind around solutions and that’s the fun part of it. As a competitor, that’s the beauty of it.”

Butler was given the opportunity to serve as head coach of the Heat’s Summer League squad this year. The team is .500 so far and will wrap up its schedule on Sunday with a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

It is poetic that game is the finale because Portland seemingly holds the major key to Miami’s outlook this season and into the future. Damian Lillard has requested a trade from the Trail Blazers, and even though the Heat reportedly are the desired landing spot for the All-Star guard, talks to date have not resulted in a deal.

Butler said he is friends with Heat legend Dwyane Wade, who recently became part of the ownership group of the WNBA’s Chicago Sky. Perhaps that could be another pathway into a head-coaching role if Butler were to decide to pursue it.

But for now, he will continue gaining valuable experience working under one of the best head coaches in the NBA with the intention of ultimately becoming one himself.

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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.