For Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, when it comes to preseason basketball, throw the records out.
Miami’s 0-2 start to the six-game exhibition slate means very little to the coach.
His priority as Miami heads into Friday’s game against the Washington Wizards and the final four games overall: Establish a level of continuity among the roster and find the team’s identity on both offense and defense.
“We’re not trying to win a ton here,” Spoelstra said of the preseason. “Just get guys on the same page, get some of our guys who have been out healthy and get them out there.”
It hasn’t been an easy process, with five key players in Bam Adebayo, James Johnson, Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington and Dion Waiters not seeing the floor yet. Forward Derrick Jones Jr. injuring his shoulder against the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday doesn’t help either.
But Spoelstra still remains optimistic about what he has seen so far.
There’s the positive development of center Hassan Whiteside, who tallied a double-double in both preseason games and is averaging 17 points, 14 rebounds and about 25 minutes on the floor.
“Hassan’s been pretty good,” Spoelstra said. “We’re focused on just getting our team ready and right the next 10 to 12 days, but Hassan has brought it. He’s been very good every single day in camp. The work that he put in this summer has been admirable and we’re seeing some benefits from that.”
There’s also the opportunity the Miami coaching staff has had to get closer looks at newer faces who are fighting for roster spots. Marcus Lee, Yante Maten and Briante Weber each scored 10 points off the bench in the Heat’s loss to Charlotte on Tuesday despite none playing more than 13 minutes.
“The young guys are getting a lot of playing time,” Dragic said. “When we get healthier and everybody is back, it’s going to be a little bit easier. We see progress. ... It’s a good challenge for those young guys. They get a chance to get used to this league and take advantage of those minutes.”
Jimmy Butler developments
The Jimmy Butler trade saga continues.
According to a New York Times report from Marc Stein on Wednesday night, the Heat and Timberwolves were making “significant progress” this week on a deal that would have sent Butler to Miami “before deal changes proposed by Minnesota led to a breakdown in talks.” Stein added that a third team has not been involved in the trade discussions between the Heat and Timberwolves.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski followed up an hour later and reported that a deal between the Heat and Timberwolves was not imminent Wednesday night and added: “Miami, Minnesota have been consistently engaged in Jimmy Butler talks for several days, with Heat pushing Timberwolves for an answer today on a revised offer. ... Minnesota’s conversations are relatively sparse elsewhere; remain focused on Miami.”
Per Wojnarowski, Minnesota reportedly has asked for Richardson, Adebayo and a protected 2019 No. 1 draft pick. But the Heat does not want to give up Richardson and is reluctant to trade Adebayo, according to a league source.
▪ On the injury front, Richardson practiced on Thursday and could possibly make his preseason debut against the Wizards.
“It felt good being able to be back out there with the guys,” Richardson said. “To go full speed again is always good.”
Ellington, Adebayo and Jones were held out Thursday. Waiters and James Johnson are still being held out.