It looks like suffering through a 15-67 season is enough to move Pat Riley off the bench and back into the front office.
According to multiple media reports, the future Hall of Famer is expected to step down as the Miami Heat’s head coach at a news conference set for 4 p.m. ET.
The reports — from the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald and The Associated Press — say Riley will stay on as team president.
The Sun Sentinel reported that current Heat assistant coach Erik Spoelstra would replace Riley.
Riley has been Miami’s head coach since taking over just 21 games into the 2005-06 season for Stan Van Gundy. That season, Riley helped lead the Heat to an NBA championship. Just two years later, his team owned the league’s worst record.
The .183 winning percentage this season matched the worst mark in franchise history originally set by the 1988-89 expansion team.
Riley had previously said he would make a decision about his future after meeting with Heat owner Micky Arison at the conclusion of the season.
In working on his dual role as coach and team president, Riley missed four games this season to scout players who may be available to the Heat in this year’s NBA draft. Miami has the best chance of obtaining the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, and by having the league’s worst record is assured of getting a top-four selection.
Unless he comes back — he has once before — Riley finishes his career with a 1,210-694 regular-season record, good for third most victories in NBA history behind Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson. He won seven championships in all, five as a head coach, one as an assistant and one as a player, and was voted into the 2008 Hall of Fame class this month. His induction is Sept. 5.
Riley has amassed 171 playoff victories and a career .632 winning percentage. He has also had only three sub-.500 seasons in his NBA coaching career.
The rebuilding process in Miami will still be his primary focus. Riley essentially began that job in February when he traded disgruntled center Shaquille O’Neal to the Phoenix Suns. The move not only rid the team of a player who didn’t want to remain in Miami, but gave the Heat some salary-cap room that wouldn’t otherwise have been available until O’Neal’s contract expired in 2010.
“Regardless if Pat is coaching or not, I think he’ll still have a lot of say-so in what goes on around here,” Heat forward Shawn Marion, who was acquired in that trade for O’Neal, said this month.
But now, the say-so will come from Spoelstra, who has been with the Heat for 13 seasons but never a head coach at any level outside of the NBA’s summer league.
Spoelstra came to the Heat in 1995 as video coordinator, and was promoted to assistant coach/video coordinator two years later. He’s worked his way up the ladder since and has long been considered the person Riley would promote when the time was right.
Riley previously had stepped down as Miami’s coach days before the 2003-04 season began, walking into then-assistant coach Van Gundy’s office one morning and asking him, “You ready?”
The Heat have gone 59-105 in regular-season games since winning the title in 2005-06, the second-biggest two-year fall by a championship team in NBA history.
Riley started his head coaching career with the Los Angeles Lakers, winning a championship in his first season with a team led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He also took the New York Knicks to the NBA finals before coming to Miami in 1995, where on the day he was introduced he famously talked about envisioning a championship parade down Biscayne Boulevard.
Eleven years later, that vision became reality.