Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra talks veteran leadership and more
When Dwyane Wade and Heat players spoke in recent days about how the roster has changed for the better, they always mention the improved depth.
The upshot of adding skilled veterans Gerald Green and Amar’e Stoudemire and 10th overall draft pick Justise Winslow, along with the return of Josh McRoberts from knee surgery, means the Heat’s second unit — which could potentially include those four and Mario Chalmers — is “obviously a big upgrade from what we had last season coming off the bench,” Wade said.
But Wade also cited this potentially uncomfortable flip side of adding depth: fewer minutes for players unaccustomed to that.
“Everyone talks about how excited we are about our depth, but you’ve got to understand at times the depth will get in the way of your playing time,” Wade said. “How are we going to get past that? Those are the things people don’t look at that affect teams. We’ve got to be able to get over that hump.”
Two players who stand to be most affected: Chris Andersen, who played in 60 of the 65 games he suited up for last season, and Udonis Haslem, who played in 46 of the 77 that he was available for.
It takes a special person to do that. When it takes a hit on playing time, it takes a hit on your ego. My job is to walk guys through who haven’t experienced it.
If McRoberts joins Stoudemire on the second unit as expected, Andersen’s minutes would be curtailed significantly. He said he’s not concerned.
“I am just going to go in and do what I do,” Andersen said. “I can’t control that. I did what I had to do to make sure my conditioning was good … to make sure I don’t get injured as [much] as last year.”
Haslem, too, could spend a lot of time on the bench for a team in the enviable position of having six proven power rotation players.
“It takes a special person to do that,” Haslem said. “When it takes a hit on playing time, it takes a hit on your ego. My job is to walk guys through who haven’t experienced it. I can instill a positive influence, keeping guys engaged in practice.”
Erik Spoelstra said the Heat does research to make sure it doesn’t sign players who are likely to complain about playing time. Asked about the six power rotation players, Spoelstra said all are selfless.
“This type of situation might not be for every veteran player,” Spoelstra said. “We try to over-communicate that early in the process of recruitment. When we sign them, we over-communicate the role. … It’s not about minutes, it’s not about shots, it’s not about opportunities. It’s about an opportunity to come together and do something special.”
At the wing positions, the players who might not play as much as they’re accustomed (in college) are mostly young players — Winslow, Tyler Johnson, James Ennis and Josh Richardson.
But Mario Chalmers, who has started 383 of 519 games, must also now adjust to being a full-time backup, with fewer minutes.
“I feel [that second unit] can be a starting five on any other team,” Chalmers said. “Amar’e is a proven All Star. Justise is just now coming into his own. Gerald is a prolific scorer.
“I’ve got the championship background and know what the Miami Heat family is about. It will be easy for me to translate to those guys and be able to lead that second team.”
McRoberts said: “We have a lot of potential with that group. We’ve been talking about that. … [I can] get it to the hot hand and make sure everything runs smoothly.”
That second unit, Wade said, “is different from what we had in our championship years coming off the bench. There’s talent in that group.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Hassan Whiteside (calf) sat out practice for a fourth consecutive day. John Lucas III (leg soreness) and Greg Whittington (illness) also skipped practice.
▪ Chris Bosh said he’s “more surprised than anybody” about how great he has felt during practices, as he returns from February’s blood clots in his lungs. “My soreness is limited.”
▪ Fox Sports Sun (formerly Sun Sports) will televise five of the Heat’s preseason games, including the 6 p.m. Sunday opener against visiting Charlotte. ESPN picked up the Oct. 21 home game against Washington.
The two untelevised preseason games: Wednesday against Orlando in Louisville and Oct. 17 at Houston.