Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has so much respect for David Fizdale, his former assistant, that he hopes the 43-year-old takes a job with a Western Conference team this summer.
Here’s the full context of Spo’s sentiments, per ESPN.com’s Ian Begley:
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra on NYK candidate & ex-MIA assistant David Fizdale: “He’s a brilliant basketball mind & has gold-standard level communication skills..I hope he goes West. That’s the kind of respect I have for him. I don’t want him going anywhere in the East.” Full quote: pic.twitter.com/c5UlvqleVa
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) April 17, 2018
This is quite the endorsement. Spo is one of the best coaches in the league. Sure, he and Fizdale are former colleagues. But if he’s offering his stamp of approval, it’s hardly a bad thing. Just something for teams in the market for a new head coach to think about.
Spo, however, may not get his wish.
Four of the five jobs currently open in the league are in the Eastern Conference: Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and, assuming interim head coach Joe Prunty is a goner, Milwaukee Bucks. Unless, like, the Denver Nuggets have a change of heart and can head coach Mike Malone, or the Los Angeles Clippers get rid of Doc Rivers, the Phoenix Suns are the only Western Conference squad currently in the market for a new sideline sage.
Fizdale figures to have his pick of the litter—or something close to it. His year-and-change tenure with the Memphis Grizzlies didn’t end under the rosiest circumstances, but that seems to have more to do with the franchise, and its dedication to Marc Gasol, than Fizdale himself.
Chances are, then, Fizdale will be back on the sidelines next season. He could always take another year off and wait for some other additional gigs to open up, but he ‘s a hot commodity now. And when there’s this much turnover at once, there’s no guarantee the league will play home to much more over the next year. Seizing the chance to fill one of the current openings make the most sense. And we know where Spo wants him to end up with nothing changes: Phoenix.