Basketball

Role defined for Miami Heat’s Mario Chalmers

Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers poses for el Nuevo Herald photographer Hector Gabino during the Media Day for the 2015-16 NBA season at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Monday, September 28, 2015.
Miami Heat guard Mario Chalmers poses for el Nuevo Herald photographer Hector Gabino during the Media Day for the 2015-16 NBA season at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Monday, September 28, 2015. dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

When the trade rumors were flying this summer, when Mario Chalmers wasn’t quite sure if he was coming or going, the veteran Heat guard leaned on two old friends: Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.

“LeBron and D-Wade are my two closest people when I’ve got things going on in my mind,” Chalmers said Monday on the eve of the start of Heat training camp. “I talked to those two in the summer and it really helped ease my mind.

“Bron, big brother, he told me, ‘Don’t worry — it’s a business.’ 

The Miami Heat kicked off its 28th season Monday, Sept. 28, 2015 with Media Day as players conducted interviews and posed for photos. Here's a time-lapse video as photojournalists Hector Gabino, David Santiago and Carl Juste document the event.

A general manager from another team said the Heat shopped Chalmers during the summer in an attempt to lessen its luxury-tax burden — Chalmers’ $4.3 million salary could result in a tax hit of more than double that amount for Miami if he’s on the roster at the end of the regular season.

But Chalmers said he never sought clarity from the Heat nor has management given him any assurances.

“I talked to them at the end of the season,” he said. “They said, ‘If we have to trade you, we will. If we don’t, we won’t.’… It’s always stressful when you hear your name in trade rumors.”

Chalmers, who had minor knee surgery in May, said the knee discomfort was a “big factor” in his decline last season.

He also was never quite sure of his role, because he switched between both guard spots and between starting and coming off the bench.

“It was kind of, in a way, disappointing,” he said of his role last season. “Maybe I could do more, but I’m not being allowed to. It was more an inside battle, had to figure it out.”

This season, there is clarity: Coach Erik Spoelstra announced Chalmers will be the backup point guard.

“You still have to prepare for anything,” Chalmers said. “But at least knowing the clarity of what exact position I can focus on, it does ease my mind going in.”

Said Spoelstra: “Clarity always breeds confidence. Hopefully, Rio will wrap his mind and arms around the clarity. I care about Rio. We’ve been through so much as a rookie player, a rookie head coach to now we’re both veterans. I’m excited about him embracing this new role. I’m open to changing for more, better, wherever it could possibly go.”

Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra addresses the media during the team's Media Day press conference at AmericanAirlines Arena.

▪ Forward Chris Andersen, who also was made available in trades this offseason, said he has felt no need to ask the Heat where he stands.

“I didn’t let it bother me one bit,” he said.

OBAMA EXCITED

▪ Forward Luol Deng met with President Barack Obama alone for 20 minutes at the White House in late August to discuss the great work Deng has done in the South Sudan.

And Deng said Obama “believes this year with the pieces we have, he’s really excited about watching the Heat and thinks we could do a lot of good things.”

▪ Though there will be an emphasis on pushing the ball, players agreed the Heat will play several different styles, depending on the lineup on the court.

“You want to be able to play a bunch of different styles,” Chris Bosh said. “We are going to get the ball up the court fast. That’s the goal. But it doesn’t mean we’re going to shoot it fast.”

Said Wade: “We have Goran [Dragic]; we want to be able to unleash him. … [But] when you have an opportunity where you need to slow it down and run offense, you want to feel your half-court talent is good enough as well.”

▪ The Heat, as expected, signed journeymen point guards Tre Kelley and John Lucas III, giving them the maximum 20 players for training camp.

▪ Forward Josh McRoberts, limited to 17 games last season because of knee surgery, said he’s fine physically and the emphasis is getting his “fitness and endurance back.”

▪ Dragic said he was “sad” to see his brother traded to Boston but that Zoran is happy playing in Russia this season.

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