Coach Erik Spoelstra reiterated Saturday how much he values guard Roger Mason Jr., which would suggest Mason has a good chance to survive this week’s deadline when contracts become guaranteed for the remainder of the season.
But Spoelstra was noncommittal when asked whether Mason will be with the team past the deadline, and Mason has been given no assurances. “We’ll see what happens,” Spoelstra said.
Contracts will become guaranteed for the season Friday, but Mason’s contract essentially would become guaranteed if he remains on the team past Tuesday because of the 48-hour waiver period.
Michael Beasley, the only other Heat player with a nonguaranteed deal, assuredly will remain with the team past the deadline. So if Mason isn’t released, the Heat would need to eat a contract or make a trade if it decides to add a player during the remainder of the season.
Spoelstra made clear he views Mason as an important piece, though he appeared in just 14 of the Heat’s first 32 games.
“We don’t take him for granted,” Spoelstra said. “Roger is gaining more confidence with each game he plays with our system. Those kind of guys are hard to find. To be able to understand the big picture and be available when we need him and to be able to produce and to not be cluttered in the mind. I think a lot of teams would love to have a guy like him.”
Mason, who is averaging 4.3 points and shooting 41.2 percent, would make $1.27 million if he remains on the team all season.
The looming deadline “is not something I concern myself with,” he said. “I haven’t talked to anybody about it. I signed here with the intention of winning a championship.”
Last season, the Heat released center Josh Harrellson before the deadline, then signed him to a 10-day contract after he cleared waivers before parting ways. The Heat ultimately used that roster spot to add Chris Anderson, and also signed Jarvis Varnado with another open spot.
Odds and ends
• Dwyane Wade, who has played both games in a back-to-back set only once this season, played Saturday but was noncommittal about whether he would play Sunday against Toronto, adding it will be based on how his knees feel.
• Shane Battier missed Saturday’s game because of soreness in his quadriceps.
• LeBron James, who is eight years above the legal drinking limit at 29, was carded at an Orlando hotel bar Friday night while watching the Orange Bowl between Ohio State and Clemson.
James didn’t tell the employee who he was but was surprised to be carded. “Look at my beard!” he said.
• Spoelstra decided not to start Ray Allen in the 13 games that Wade missed last season and the first five he skipped this season because he wanted Allen to adjust to his bench role without disruption.
But Spoelstra changed that approach a few weeks ago, and Allen started the past three games that Wade missed. He played very well in his first three starts, averaging 15.3 points on 62.5 percent shooting while logging 28.7 minutes per game — about three more than he usually does.
“We were a little bit on autopilot for a couple years,” Spoelstra said. “We knew what we were doing [when Wade was out], and that guy was Mike Miller. Our bench is different this year, has a little more punch. We thought it would give us more consistency with Ray there and it didn’t hurt us as much on the bench.”
Allen came off the bench only eight times in his first 16 seasons.