Miami Heat

Mailbag: For those who want the Miami Heat to tank, here’s why it’s not happening

Pat Riley speaks about why he believes Heat can improve this season

Heat president Pat Riley speaks about the current roster and why he believes the team can be better this season.
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Heat president Pat Riley speaks about the current roster and why he believes the team can be better this season.

The weekly Miami Herald Heat mailbag is here to answer your questions.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang). You can also email me at achiang@miamiherald.com.

@Miamibyrd24: Is it too early to think about this Heat team tanking?

@AussyBlade: What’s the point in holding out? We are at the bottom of an awful division, isn’t it time to just trade what we can, get any assets possible, and build around the young core that is playing well?

@NikoDevlin: How does it feel to cover the Heat right now with the dichotomy of the #HEATCulture narrative & the obvious pressure to tank?

Anthony Chiang: Most of the questions I get these days have to do with tanking, as you can see. But if you’re asking the Heat to lose games for the chance at a higher draft pick, this is not the organization that does that type of thing ... especially this early in the season. Despite what the tanking proponents think, coaches are still coaching to win and players are still playing to win. And if the Heat’s front office was interested in tanking, it has players on this roster who can be sold off to contenders to help make that happen. None of that has occurred yet.

Yes, one could argue it’s a better long-term plan to sacrifice a season for the chance at one of the top picks in a draft that includes studs like Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish. But in a league that includes teams like the Hawks (5-20), Bulls (5-20), Cavaliers (5-19) and Suns (4-21), it’s going to be extremely difficult for the Heat to finish with a top-three pick even if it does tank. Then there’s the Knicks and Nets that are also expected to finish behind the Heat. So what’s the point of tanking, to finish with the seventh or eighth pick?

Remember, this is a Heat roster that made the playoffs last season as a sixth seed. When healthy, it’s not a team that’s going to finish with one of the league’s worst records.

If Miami happens to organically lose a bunch of games because of injury issues or whatever, that’s different than tanking. For now, stop calling for tanking and start calling for more wins … even if it means another pick in the middle of the first round.

@sports21all: What’s the most surprising thing about the Heat’s 9-14 start?

Anthony: That the Heat’s continuity hasn’t paid off. With 14 players returning from last year’s season-ending roster, a fast start was expected as other teams work through the early-season struggles that could come with incorporating new faces. Instead, the Heat has had another slow start to the season. That’s become the norm for this group, as Miami started 2017-18 at 11-13 and 2016-17 at 11-30. But it really hurts this season because the Heat wasted a favorable stretch of its schedule, with 14 of its first 23 games coming at home.

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