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Spoelstra given Heat extension

MIAMI — Erik Spoelstra and the Heat agreed on a contract extension, ending speculation that Pat Riley's protege would be a lame-duck coach this season.

Riley, the team president, made the announcement Friday. The Heat typically does not release terms of deals for coaches and executives, and Riley did not divulge details of Spoelstra's extension. Spoelstra is in his fourth season as coach and his 17th with the team overall.

"We have one of the great young coaches in the league, an absolute member of this family and has been for a long time, so we want him to become a Hall of Famer," Riley said. "So it's been taken care of."

Spoelstra, 41, was not available for comment. The Heat had the day off, and Riley spoke at his annual preseason availability.

This week Spoelstra said he did not expect his contract to be a distraction, noting that the Arison family, which owns the team, and Riley have never given him any reason to be worried about his status. "It's a family here," Spoelstra said, "and I'm part of that."

Riley also addressed his status, reaffirming that he loves his role and does not see himself leaving soon.

In his first three seasons, Spoelstra was 148-98 in the regular season and 18-15 in the playoffs. Last season Miami went 58-24 and went to the Finals, where it lost to Dallas in six games.

Fans finally getting glimpse of Rubio

MINNEAPOLIS — For two years, Ricky Rubio has been little more than a myth for the Timberwolves and their success-starved fans.

After he was drafted No. 5 overall in 2009, the fans salivated over grainy YouTube clips of Rubio's fancy passing in European games. They also nervously read reports that the young Spanish point guard did not want to play in Minnesota, and they fretted over his paltry statistics last season for Regal Barcelona.

Then the Twin Cities had to wait through the lockout.

The wait has seemed to only ramp up the anticipation. By Friday, the Wolves had sold 15,000 tickets for Rubio's preseason debut tonight against Milwaukee, the most tickets for a Wolves preseason game since 2004-05, the year after they reached the Western Conference final.

"It's been amazing," Rubio, 21, said of his first few practices. "Playing basketball, I feel so good. Outside the court, I have a lot of people who help me, and people in Minnesota have been so nice with me. I feel very good."

NO. 1 DEBUT: Top overall draft pick Kyrie Irving had 21 points in his preseason debut — including five free throws in the final minute — in the host Cavaliers' 91-87 victory over the Pistons. The former Duke star didn't start but played 27 minutes.

BOBCATS: Forward Eduardo Najera had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee and will miss six to eight weeks.

BULLS: Guard Keith Bogans, who started all 82 regular-season games and 16 playoff games last season, was waived days before Monday's deadline for picking up his $1.73 million team option. Guard Jannero Pargo was also waived.

HORNETS: Jason Smith, a 7-foot free agent forward, agreed to a three-year contract. Agent Mark Bartelstein said the deal is worth $7.5 million.

WIZARDS: Swingman Maurice Evans, a union vice president during the lockout, re-signed for one season.

Spoelstra given Heat extension 12/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, December 17, 2011 12:07am]
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