After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008, the Miami Heat have an abnormally lengthy offseason ahead of them. School’s out, so to speak, but it’s going to be a busy summer in Miami. As NBA teams do, the Heat conducted exit interviews with the media following their last game of the season. Here’s everything you need to know from the exit interviews Friday.
The Miami Heat will develop “player development program” for Hassan Whiteside
Exit interviews happening right now in Miami. Erik Spoelstra wants to create “a specific player-development program” for Hassan Whiteside.
— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) April 17, 2015
What does Spoelstra want from Whiteside? “Just commit. We will put a very specific program together for him this summer.” — Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) April 17, 2015
It’s pretty clear what the Heat are trying to do here. After a breakout season by the 7-footer, coach Erik Spoelstra and the organization want to keep him grounded and motivated by crafting a “development program” aka keep him around the team as much as possible.
Development program is a nice name, and the Heat will certainly be working with him to incorporate new skills and accentuate existing ones, but keeping him around the coaches will ensure that he stays motivated and continues to work as he approaches his first full season with the team.
Henry Walker is probably coming back
When Henry Walker first signed a 10-day contract with the Heat he hit the ground running. He was almost immediately cast into the starting lineup, had the green light to put up nearly six three-pointers a game and was defended opposing power forwards and centers on a regular basis.
These are things Erik Spoelstra can use next season, and it seems the team will re-sign him this summer.
Heat play-by-play announcer Eric Reid asks about shooter Henry Walker during exit interview. Spoelstra: “I’m glad you asked.”
— Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) April 17, 2015
In other words, it sounds like Henry Walker is going to be back with the Heat next season. — Joseph Goodman (@JoeGoodmanJr) April 17, 2015
Because of his high rate of shooting despite a low rate of, y’know, making shots (34.5 percent, 34.1 percent from three) he often took criticism from Heat fans.
However, his willingness to defend and not-always-apparent shooting touch made him a rotation staple. At 26 minutes a game, Walker had to play more than he probably should be. After an offseason of adding players and guys coming back from injury, though, it seems Walker will be one of Miami’s 15 next season.
Goran Dragic will opt out, but he likes what he’s seen from the Miami Heat
Goran Dragic was expected to exercise his opt out clause after a breakout season a year ago and seek a max deal in free agency, and he confirmed that’s exactly what he will do this summer.
Dragic confirms, again (so reconfirms?) that he will opt out. But we knew that.
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) April 17, 2015
The Heat, of course, knew this when they traded for the All-Star point guard in February. They are certainly prepared to make him an offer, and are the only team in the NBA who can offer an fifth year on a max deal due to Bird Rights. That, Dragic said, will be an important factor this offseason. He’s also liked his experience in Miami so far.
Goran Dragic: “I had a great time here in Miami. I want to come back, but we’ll see what happens.” — Ethan J. Skolnick (@EthanJSkolnick) April 17, 2015
Dragic, “I like this organization, this basketball style.”
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) April 17, 2015
The Heat won’t take anything for granted–as they learned from their experience with LeBron James–but they should feel good about their chances. After all, Dragic listed the Heat as one of his teams he wanted to play for back at the trade deadline, and they offer the playing opportunity, money and key fifth year that make them a strong (if not the strongest) candidate to sign him this summer.
Unlike Dragic, Dwyane Wade will not opt out
It hasn’t been talked about much because he isn’t going anywhere, but Dwyane Wade also has an option to end his contract early and hit free agency. On Friday, Wade restated he has no intention of opting out and seeking a new deal.
Wade confirms that he is bypassing his opt out for this summer. — Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) April 17, 2015
Wade is set to be a free agent in 2016, when the salary cap is expected to increase dramatically.
The Heat will play fast next season
Because of a never-ending carousel of injuries and lineup changes, Spoesltra wasn’t able to play the way he wants to play as much as he would have liked this season.
Pace and space was tough for a team that lacked outside shooting and defensive cohesion. Rather, Miami found slowing it down and playing through the post games of Wade and Whiteside was best. That is, until the team traded for Dragic, after which the Heat picked up the tempo and began to resemble the teams we’re used to seeing from Spo.
According to the coach, that should carry over into next season.
Spo on next season: “There’s no question I want to play faster next year and with pace.”
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) April 17, 2015
Spo: “There’s no question I want to play faster next year.” — Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) April 17, 2015
The Heat have the parts to play faster, even Whiteside isn’t your typical, plodding big man. He should be able to get down the court, set his screens and complete pick-and-rolls with Dragic and Wade. Also, with Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts set to come back, the Heat will have a complete and versitile front-court rotation that should thrive in Spo’s scheme.