Miami Heat coach Ron Rothstein says he'll emphasize short-term goals for the NBA expansion team in his first year as a professional head coach.
"Win the first game," he said. "The second short-term goal is win the second game."Rothstein, introduced at a news conference Tuesday as the Heat's first coach, said he wants the team to show steady improvement even though he'll be under little pressure to win the first year.
"I have a great lawyer who negotiated my contract, and in my contract it says three wins," Rothstein joked.
The coach said patience is essential with an expansion team, but at the same time he wouldn't rule out winning 50 games the first season.
"Obviously that's not realistic," he said. "But you know what? Nothing's out of the realm of possibility. As long as it's possible, we'll go after it."
Rothstein, who helped direct the Detroit Pistons to the NBA finals last month as an assistant to Chuck Daly, said he likes the looks of the Heat's roster following the expansion and college drafts. He said he's excited about working with Miami's two first-round choices in the college draft, Syracuse center Rony Seikaly and DePaul guard Kevin Edwards.
Rothstein, 45, is a native of Bronxville, N.Y. He lost his first 36 games as a head coach, at Eastchester, N.Y., High School, and he was still coaching in high school as recently as 1983.
"You have to like a guy who has scraped his way to get where he is," Miami managing partner Lewis Schaffel said. "He's not one of those guys who was born under a lucky star . . . he is clearly what we were looking for in a coach."
Rothstein took his first NBA job in 1979 as a scout for the Atlanta Hawks. He became a Hawks assistant in 1983 and joined Daly in Detroit in 1986.
"Ron Rothstein was destined to be a head coach of an NBA team," Daly said from Detroit. "He has all the basketball background and emotional stability to be highly successful."
Rothstein coached the Pistons' defense, which held opponents under 100 points in 15 of 23 playoff games.
"I've heard the term defense mastermind. Truthfully, I don't buy it, OK? There are only X number of things that you can do, and your players have to do it for you," Rothstein said.
"And yet, I feel very comfortable at the offensive end of the floor, and I would hope my teams will reflect that."
Rothstein said he has wanted to be a head coach in the NBA for about 10 years.
He agreed to a three-year contract for an estimated $150,000-$170,000 per year.