After 20 minutes of playing offense with an oxygen-deprivation mask against assistant coach Juwan Howard, Heat guard Dwyane Wade strolled over to the media and cleared up his status for Friday’s game in New York.
“I feel like I’ll be playing Friday, 100 percent. Y’all can quote that,” Wade said.
That’s the shooting guard who gets the ball to center Hassan Whiteside and hasn’t played since Jan. 27. Whether the Heat will have a new point guard by then will be clear by the 3 p.m. Thursday NBA trade deadline.
Most statistical systems say the Heat’s point guard play is the worst in the league. But there is an outside chance for a changing of the guard.
Out in Phoenix, last year’s Third-Team All-NBA point guard Goran Dragic has asked for a trade.
Early Wednesday, media reports had the Heat as one of the three teams on Dragic’s wish list, along with the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Knicks.
In an Arizona Republic video of his Wednesday talk with the media, Dragic wouldn’t state any team restrictions, only his dissatisfaction with the Suns organization, which brought in point guards Eric Bledsoe and Isaiah Thomas.
“I don’t trust them anymore,” said Dragic, who’ll be a free agent this summer. “It happens too many times. Two, three times. They give promises, OK.
“It’s hard. They were great to me the last five years. I’m always going to have a good memory of Phoenix fans. I’ve just hit that point of my career it’s better for me and my family to move on.”
While reports identify the Heat as one of the teams Dragic would accept a trade to, the Heat doesn’t have many assets to send the Suns. Barring a collapse, their first round pick will go to Philadelphia. The Heat lacks promising young prospects as well. Forward Luol Deng’s deal has a player option for next season, making him repellant to most organizations as far as a trade.
So, bet on the Heat going to the wire with the team that went through Wednesday’s practice, which was designed to “blow out” the fatigue from the lengthy All-Star break, according to coach Erik Spoelstra. Well, that team plus forward Chris Bosh, who was sent home sick. Spoelstra said he hoped it wasn’t the flu.
Asked whether Bosh’s absence would continue to hurt team chemistry, Wade chuckled, “One thing we’ve learned is you better not have any expectations around here. You’ll be let down. It is what it is. It’s on Chris to get better. For the rest of us, we’ve been off for a while. We’ve got to get reconnected. We’ve got to get in basketball form.”
Whiteside felt better. He said that his aching ankle improved during the break. That’s the rare piece of good injury news for the Heat.
“We just didn’t have enough. All year, together, to pull out the games we should,” Wade said of what he saw while sidelined with his injury. “Hopefully we can have that more times than not in the [final 30 games] of the season to give ourselves a chance to compete at a high level. It’s ‘go time.’ You’ll see that on every team that understands what ‘go time’ means. It’s time to turn it up a notch.
“You want all your guys so you’re able to do that,” he continued. “Coach would love that as well. We can’t predict it. It’s not like no one’s trying to not be here. Things happen. That said, we’ve got to go on the court, the best five that’s out there, find a way.”