Speaking to reporters on Monday for the first time since April, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra addressed multiple issues on Heat media day:
• On Chris Bosh, who will probably never play again for the Heat (as Pat Riley said today): “This business is tough, the things that happen you can’t control. Everybody knows how much CB means to me. I love CB dearly. It was tough to watch he and his family go through this the last couple of years. CB and I had a different bond. CB was always the guy I would go to. I always trusted his perspective. Does it give it more clarity going to camp? I’m going to prepare for this group right now, but there will continue to be changes. Hopefully, not as big of an impact as this.”
• On his team: “I like the fact we have some key guys coming back. We were able to bring back a talented young core of players we think fit the Miami Heat fabric. We added some young, exciting athletic talent. We’ve added shooting to this roster. We added guys we think can develop in our system as defenders. It’s a young athletic team fans can be excited about. I’m as curious as anybody else about this team and how we can put it together. There is going to be a lot of observation, evaluation, a lot of testing. I can’t say right now definitely how it’s going to look. I will be doing more evaluation in this preseason than any training camp I’ve had before, at least recent history. The one thing you can’t become in this profession is stale. There are new challenges to embark every single year. This is a big challenge. We have some things to feel very encouraged about. We’re excited about this challenge. Sometimes the unknown is very inspiring.”
• On Dwyane Wade: “I’ve had some time to reflect on my eight years of coaching this summer. It put me in a place that was a little more reflective. The challenge this year is exciting because it’s new, it’s different. There is a lot of change in this business. It’s inherent. But change happens slower with the Miami Heat. I don’t deal with change well. I will miss Dwyane. I love the 13 years we had together. As an absolute winner, he did it with incredible class.
“The impact he had in this South Florida community. I can put that in a box where I am going to miss him dearly. The thing I’m most grateful for --- last year was the closest we ever were. It was a deeper feeling, a deeper love. It was about 10 days before my wedding before I could get my act together. We texted about it. We are going to come after him. He is going to come after us. But it isn’t going to change the feelings of those 13 years.”
• On Hassan Whiteside: “He has shown great perseverance and a chip on his shoulder. He’s had it for so long, that’s become who he is. I don’t think that will change. To really have an impact the last two years coming out of nowhere and then helping a team get back in the playoffs. He’s proven he can put up big numbers that you don’t see every day.
“Now what he can focus on is a clear mind of absolutely helping the team win. He’s starting to embrace and understand more and more [that it’s about winning]. When other teammates walk into the building now, they’re looking for Hassan Whiteside. He’s learning what those first steps are, and that’s by taking more responsibility as people are watching him and how he leads us by example. I’m excited to see him take this next step.”
• On Dion Waiters: “He’s in terrifc shape. He has committed to get in world class shape. That’s the first step. Committing to how we do things here as a two-way player. What we’re excited about is he’s shown growth in his young career, going from Cleveland to OKC, where we felt he was playing his best basketball and really looked like a winning player during the playoffs for that team. We were excited to add him. He doesn’t need to fill anybody’s shoes [meaning Dwyane Wade’s]. He can grow in that role.”
• On Goran Dragic: “The thing about Goran is only made about Goran and pace of play. He has become so much more of a player. What he proved is he can be a winning player in the playoffs with a big role when a lot is expected of him. You have to be able to play a lot of different styles in this league. We are going to try to maximize and leverage the strengths of this team. One of the biggest strengths of Goran is his aggressiveness in the open court. We’re going to try to maximize that. You saw how we played final three months of the season. You can probably expect something similar to that. We are not going to compromise the defense.”
• On Josh Richardson, who is expected back early in the season after a sprained MCL: “I told him not to give a week’s timeline to it. He had a minor injury that was diagnosed in the playoffs. He didn’t even miss a practice. The update is his brace was removed Friday. He was able to go to the Tennessee-Florida game on Saturday. I texted him saying you better not even think about charging that field. Thank God that didn’t require surgery. He will work with the trainers in the Bahamas.”
• On training in the Bahamas this week: “We hope to quiet the distractions and the noise around the team. We are going to work to cultivate an environment where guys can become connected. It also has to happen organically.”
• On his revamped coaching staff, with David Fizdale leaving to become head coach at Memphis and Keith Smart joining Fizdale’s staff: “It starts with two former Heat players but two guys that have played for me, and that’s Juwan Howard and Chris Quinn. They have really developed as coaches. They both will be head coaches, they know, eventually. And Dan Craig, another close friend of mine, we hired 13 years ago in the video room.” He also praised assistant Octavio De La Grana.
The Heat also added Rob Fodor as a shooting coach, “really unique basketball mind. He worked with Mike James. He has worked with my basketball academy for a long time. He’s a great, unique addition to our staff.