Heat notebook

Shane Battier could lose minutes in Miami Heat’s deeper rotation

 
 
Miami Heat small forward Shane Battier (31) drives against Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap (4) during an NBA preseason basketball game, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Miami.
Miami Heat small forward Shane Battier (31) drives against Atlanta Hawks power forward Paul Millsap (4) during an NBA preseason basketball game, Monday, Oct. 7, 2013, in Miami.
Alan Diaz / AP

jgoodman@MiamiHerald.com

On paper, if it actually all works out, the reclamation of Michael Beasley would be just another brilliant brushstroke by Pat Riley in an ever-growing mural of managerial greatness. But here’s something important to consider before projecting Beasley into the Heat’s second rotation:

Who loses minutes?

One possible answer is Shane Battier, and that would be strangely ironic considering Battier’s steady demeanor, his attention to detail on defense and his importance to the Heat’s back-to-back championships. Battier was benched deep into the 2013 playoffs, sure, but he also redeemed himself in Game 7 and was a mainstay during Miami’s near-record winning streak of 27 games during the regular season.

Team leader LeBron James praised Beasley on Friday night after his second successful night in a row, but the Heat’s back-to-back MVP stopped short of entertaining any questions about Beasley’s role on the team. Beasley still has a lot to prove and even then he might not have a regular place in the rotation. After all, the Heat doesn’t need any more scorers.

“Obviously, we have some veteran guys on our team that’s earned the right to play on this team and has earned minutes, but I think if he continues to improve like he has been in the first couple weeks then he gives himself a great chance to have a role on this team,” James said.

The Heat’s nine-man rotation during its 27-game winning streak consisted of Battier, Norris Cole, Chris Andersen and Ray Allen coming of bench. There wasn’t even room in the rotation for Mike Miller. Put that way, it likely will be difficult for Beasley to crack the lineup.

And what about James Jones and Rashard Lewis? Spoelstra has praised both players this preseason. Jones is 7 of 14 from three-point range through the first three preseason games. Lewis led the Heat in minutes (32) on Friday against the Bobcats. James compared Beasley’s ability to create matchup problems to the skills Chris Bosh uses to move centers out of position, but, he reiterated the company line instead heaping more praise on Beasley. The Heat needs defenders.

“I think more than anything, I think defensively him showing on pick and rolls and getting back into the play was a positive,” James said. “We all know he can score, but I think defensively he’s trying really hard to learn the system and that’s good.

“We know when he gets his opportunity, he can help us. I think he has to continue to work hard and continue to put himself in a position where Spo can trust him, and that’s all we can ask as a team.”

DEEP BENCH

One of Spoelstra’s cardinal rules since 2010 has been to always have at least one of James, Wade and Bosh on the court at all times, but that didn’t stop James from musing after Friday’s game that the Heat might be deep enough this season to “bring in five guys off the bench and sit the whole starting lineup.”

“With Norris and Ray and Rashard and Bird and Shane also [Beasley] with his opportunity and hopefully big Greg [Oden] can continue to make strides, we can do some really special things coming off the bench,” James said.

This and that

• Spoelstra said ongoing discussions “between Dwyane, myself and the coaching staff” will determine how much (or how little) Wade plays this preseason. Wade said on Friday that he expects to play Tuesday in Washington. So far, Wade has skipped two of the Heat’s first three preseason games.

• Always an excellent source for one-liners, Spoelstra delivered a gem Friday when asked why Roger Mason Jr., Andersen and Battier each missed Friday’s game.

Spoelstra denied any preseason injuries and simply repeated some variation of the phrase “everything is proactive.” In other words, some players are being held out because they are sore and Spoelstra doesn’t want to risk injury when bodies are in a weakened state.

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