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Heat coaching changes: Maintaining stability or a sign of things to come?

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With the recent rumors that the Miami Heat will be shaking up their coaching staff, are these moves reflective of the team's commitment to consistency or in anticipation of future changes?

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The summer of the #hotsportstake has reinforced how dependent we've become on instantly breaking news; everyone has sources and claims to be plugged in to what's going to happen next. Still, the most dependable of these is usually the "WojBomb," that catchy name given to the news broken by Yahoo! Sports Adrian Wojnarowski. The "bomb" part is well-earned, as Wojnarowski tends to drop these announcements at any unsuspecting moment leaving basketball fans shellshocked in the wake of his high-artillery tweets.

But the summer is winding down and news is broken less and less frequently as training camp hovers in the horizon. With a few notable exceptions, free agency is nearly resolved and the last big-news shoe to drop - the Kevin Love trade to Cleveland - fell off anticlimactically weeks ago.

However, the Miami Heat were caught in a minor blast over the last few days, with Wojnarowski bringing light to rumors that head coach Erik Spoelstra is reshuffling his coaching staff.

If you haven't heard, the gist of it is this; longtime assistants Ron Rothstein and Bob McAdoo are being moved to other positions within the organization and, as per Tuesday morning's news, former NBA head coach Keith Smart is in discussions to join the staff in some capacity.

On the surface, this report might seem fairly innocuous, a harmless shift in the coaching hierarchy. But this is the Heat we're talking about and moves like these are pretty few-and-far between. Rothstein, of course, was the team's first head coach and has been part of the organization for decades. McAdoo had been part of Pat Riley's staff since 1995. When Riley retired from coaching in 2008, "Big Mac" stayed on as a valued part of Spoelstra's staff.

While the San Antonio Spurs are largely credited with being the pinnacle of stability - and deservedly so - it's time that the rest of the league recognize that same culture has defined Miami since owner Micky Arison took over and brought Riley on board nearly three decades ago.

So, why the changes and, if anything, what do they represent for this model of consistency in a perpetually changing NBA?

First of all, nothing's been finalized yet. Wojnarowski's reports, still unconfirmed by the team, are still classified as rumor until the Heat actually announces the changes. But Woj's track record is solid enough to consider this a matter of when - not if - this happens.

Secondly, it's important to note that Rothstein and McAdoo are being moved, not fired outright. Both have, as Wojnarowski's points out, "professional and personal ties" to Riley. And while nothing has been made public about McAdoo's future position, Yahoo! reports that "Rothstein, 71, had been nearing the end of a long coaching career and will likely move into a basketball operations job with the Heat."

Wojnarowski adds that David Fizdale, long considered a head coaching candidate, will remain with Spoelstra as his lead assistant and that Juwan Howard, formerly in a player development role, will slide over onto the bench as a coach.

That leaves Smart, whose undistinguished coaching career includes an interim head coaching post in Cleveland as well as the top job in Golden State and Sacramento. He amassed a 93-170 record over that time, leading rosters that had, at best, glaring deficiencies. It's also worth noting that Smart had been fired from the Warriors and Kings after new ownership groups took over each franchise; wanting to put their own stamp on the team, Smart was the obvious casualty.

But the question posed in the headline is why the shuffling is taking place, whether it's change for its own sake or if its part of a bigger picture.

The answer is both, and it's perfectly consistent with how the franchise has operated under Riley over the past 29 years.

Little that the front office does is haphazard; there have been few knee-jerk reactions in the team's history. Of course, even well-executed plans don't always pan out, as this past season's decisions to bring aboard reclamation projects Michael Beasley and Greg Oden were mostly unsuccessful.

But Spoelstra, like Riley before him, sees the writing on the wall even before the first brick has been laid. Rothstein and McAdoo are at the end of their careers and they're not going anywhere; Fizdale's days with the team, however, are numbered.

Whether he takes the successful route of a Kevin Ollie or is eventually hired elsewhere in the NBA, Fizdale will be a head coach someday soon and Spoelstra's plans, both short- and long-term, depend on stability. Rothstein and McAdoo provided that when the transition took place from Riley-to-Spoelstra in 2008.

Smart, Howard and Assistant Coach Dan Craig will be there once Fizdale moves on.

Vrtually every other team in the NBA (except the Spurs, of course) seems to go through changes in the coaching staff and front office on an annual basis. Meanwhile, the Heat makes moves quietly, consistently, and with on eye on both the present and the future. If the moves made this summer should help ease the transition for when Riley eventually retires in the next five years - and if Spoelstra fills in admirably - no one would be surprised.

It will surely be a disappointment this season to look over at the bench  and not see Rothstein leaning over and whispering something to Spoelstra that only his decades of coaching might have noticed. Or that, during a crucial timeout, McAdoo won't be there to get in the face of Mario Chalmers or James Ennis and offer his sage advice and enthusiasm.

But the moves are necessary, even if they provide some disruption over the next few months.

With the Heat, a master plan is always in the works and having the right personnel to implement it is crucial to continued excellence.