Miami Heat

Steve Kerr says Pat Riley’s ‘earned trust’ helps Heat rebuild

Miami Heat president Pat Riley shares some experiences with about former Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal at a press conference before the Heat retired his No. 32 jersey during a special halftime ceremony at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Dec. 22, 2016.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley shares some experiences with about former Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal at a press conference before the Heat retired his No. 32 jersey during a special halftime ceremony at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami on Dec. 22, 2016. pportal@miamiherald.com

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Monday that Heat president Pat Riley has “got a big challenge ahead” to once again rebuild this Heat team into a contender.

Kerr, asked whether he believes Riley will be able to orchestrate a quick comeback from these troubled times, said: “It’s a really hard thing to do and that’s what makes his accomplishments so special. He’s done it multiple times with different franchises. You have to get lucky and you have to be good. I have no idea if he’s going to do it again. ... They’ve had some really difficult things that have happened to them in the last year or two.”

Is it easier to rebound from bottoming out when a franchise has stability?

“I imagine it’s not easy ever to do that,” Kerr said. “I guess when you have the track record of someone like Pat, you probably have more trust from the fans and media. He’s earned as much trust as anyone could possibly have.”

HEAT ODDITY

It’s one of the peculiarities of the Heat season: A Heat team that is 29th in the league in scoring leads the league in number of players who are averaging double figures in points.

Entering Monday, only Dallas (96.6 points per game) entered averaging fewer points per game than Miami’s 98.8.

But the Heat has eight players averaging in double figures in points, most in the NBA — one ahead of the Clippers and two ahead of four other teams.

The star-heavy Golden State Warriors, who lead the NBA in scoring at 118 per game, have only four, led by Kevin Durant’s 26.0 and Stephen Curry’s 24.6.

“We have eight guys in double figures; it’s crazy,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You would think we would be averaging what Golden State is averaging when you have that many guys scoring in double figures. This team, even coming into training camp, we felt it would be built on balance. That’s continued to be the way this team should play.”

The Heat’s double-figure scorers, entering Monday: Goran Dragic at 19.6, Hassan Whiteside at 17.3, Tyler Johnson at 14.2, Dion Waiters at 13.8, James Johnson at 11.5, Josh Richardson at 11.2, Justise Winslow at 10.9 and Wayne Ellington at 10.8.

But the Heat’s top scorer, Dragic, ranks only 34th in the league in that category.

▪ Johnson missed his second game in a row with a sprained shoulder and the Heat’s medical staff intended to exam him further before Monday’s game “and see if we need to take the next step,” Spoelstra said. Meanwhile, the Warriors gave 33-year-old forward Andre Iguodola off to rest his body.

▪ Coaches are voting this week on All-Star reserves, with full All-Star rosters to be announced Thursday on TNT.

Kerr said the players, who received one quarter of the vote in All-Star starters, made a mockery of the process.

“There were 50 guys who had no business getting votes, although a lot of people wrote in their buddies for the presidential race as well,” Kerr said. “When you give the players a vote, you should take it seriously.”

Spoelstra, meanwhile, said Monday that he’s taking the responsibility more seriously.

“I know how important it is to the players, especially to the guys giving their heart and soul and emotions into the game and should be rewarded for it,” Spoelstra said. “I do have to admit in some years past I would give it to my assistants. Not anymore. We actually have a staff meeting about it so we’re responsible. That’s the ultimate respect for players. I told the same thing to Hassan.

“Coaches are paid to figure out who helps teams win and that’s the ultimate compliment if you get voted in by coaches. I’m taking that responsibility a lot more seriously than I have in the past.”

Whiteside and Dragic are the Heat players expected to receive at least some consideration for All-Star invitations.

▪ Whiteside, on Monday morning, needed only three words to assess his 26-point, 20-rebound game against the Warriors earlier this month: “Hassan being Hassan.”

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