SAN ANTONIO -- LeBron James and a few others in the Heat’s organization are planning a road trip to Cleveland on Saturday.
The Heat plays the Bulls on Sunday, which should give James just enough time to swing over to Cleveland for a ceremony honoring former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Ilgauskas, who played for the Heat during the 2010-11 season, will have his jersey retired during Cleveland’s home game against the New York Knicks.
“It’s looking like I’ll be able to make it,” James said. “I’m still not quite sure. I want to be there to support him on one unforgettable night.”
In addition to James, Heat assistant coach Ron Rothstein is also planning to attend. Rothstein was an assistant in Cleveland during Ilgauskas’ early years in the league.
“It was very touching that Big Z would reach out to Ronny,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So they’re all going.”
Asked if the Heat based Dwyane Wade’s maintenance program on how the Spurs have managed Tim Duncan’s health, Spoelstra reiterated: “[Wade] was day-to-day from the very first day.”
“And while that was new in the beginning, now we’re very comfortable with that world we live in, day-to-day,” Spoelstra said. “We evaluate him every single day, and how he’s feeling, how much training he has been able to do, how much rest, how much conditioning, how much of all of that, and we base our decision literally every day on our trainer.”
The Spurs plot out a rough outline for Duncan’s schedule at the beginning of the season.
Michael Beasley’s minutes have increased recently, which is a good sign that he will be involved in the team’s playoff rotation in some form. His court time will be limited, but he could fill an important role similar to how Mike Miller helped the team. Spoelstra said a lot of the coaching staff’s conversations with Beasley have revolved around “the preparation and process” of the daily grind of the NBA, and Beasley has responded by “being terrific with the routine every single day.”
“You don’t have to drag Michael into the gym,” Spoelstra said. “He loves to play; he loves to work. I think that has been one of the biggest misconceptions about him. He’s got a very good work ethic, and he’s starting to get a better idea of how things operate with this team. That’s what matters.”
After an integration period to the Heat’s unique roster and its depth of talent, Spoelstra said Beasley adjusted, “and now he’s like everybody else.” More than anything, it has taken time for Beasley to earn Spoelstra’s trust on the defensive end. Beasley is starting to find his place.
“This is not the easiest team to play for,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not the easiest team to break in and bet rotation minutes, but we’ve proven for three straight years that we need everybody involved, and you can have big moments at the biggest and brightest times during the year to help us win.
“It might not necessarily be a 40-minute game; it might not be 30 minutes,” Spoelstra added. “It just might be a burst of minutes where you change the tempo of the game, and he’s finding different ways to [make an] impact. Everybody seems to notice when he scores. We tend to notice some of the other things, and he did some good things defensively the other night.”
• On the job coach Gregg Popovich has done in managing the Spurs to second place in the difficult Western Conference:
“You wouldn’t expect anything less,” Spoelstra said. “They’ve dealt with their injuries. Everybody has had to go through it. It’s the teams that don’t make excuses for it.”
• On Duncan:
“His biggest opponent has been father time, and he has been knocking the crap out of father time toe-to-toe,” Spoelstra said. “He’s remarkable. We have run up against a few guys who are timeless, and I’m sure he has done an incredible amount of work and sacrifice behind the scenes to stay youthful.”