Heat president Pat Riley, while open to trading anyone on his roster, also made clear he expects improvement from within.
And that includes the two young players who improved more than anyone — Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow.
Both made clear in recent days that they're driven to take another jump in their games.
While Richardson already is very good defensively, he knows there must be significant offensive growth.
His 12.9 points per game average ranked 19th among NBA small forwards, behind — among others — Taurean Prince, Jonathon Simmons, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and DeMarre Carroll.
Where must Richardson come back a better player?
“Being consistently aggressive,” he said. “I had my games this year where I would come out very aggressive and some games I would kind of get in my own head about some stuff and not play like I know how to on offense. Being consistently an offensive force” is what he wants to achieve.
Riley and Richardson have said there’s no reason he cannot average 18 points per game, which would have ranked eighth this year among all small forwards.
He said he must improve his ball handling because “I want to be able to have a ball on a string next year so I can play in [isolation] situations more."
Former Heat guard Eddie Jones likes Richardson — who has similarities to Jones — but wishes he hadn’t deferred as much to Dwyane Wade after the Heat acquired Wade from Cleveland.
Does Richardson agree that he deferred more on offense when Wade arrived? “Yeah, a lot,” Richardson said. “But he's a Hall of Famer. I shouldn't have let it happen but I did. Just learn from it.”
What he learned this season was this: “That I'm capable of being a great player this league and I think I showed flashes. I think I just have to do it consistently."
▪ As for Winslow, there was significant growth in his three-point game and in finishing at the rim. But more is needed, and he knows it.
This summer’s points of emphasis: “I’d definitely say work on the mid-range, coming off pick and rolls, step and shoot, lock and loaded, be ready to attack. I feel like I can be a three-level scorer, getting to the rim, mid-range and three-point shots. Just continue with my finishing. I feel I showed at the end of the year the type of finisher I'm capable of being. The three-point shot is evolving and I’m shooting that with a lot of confidence. I know going into next year I’ll be an even better 3-point shooter.”
He said “my family will have to keep me out of the gym. There's a lot left in my story, in my book. Ups and downs this year revealed a lot of my character. I'm proud of myself staying with it and continuing to get better. Just going to take some time to reflect on this season and try to get better this summer. I’m just excited for my future and my team’s future.”
Besides the countless hours of work on his offensive game, Winslow cites another reason for his improvement: “Getting D-Wade back definitely helped.”
After being down in the dumps at points last season, Winslow said: “I’m in a much better state mentally than I was a year ago.”
And while he’s happy to play any position, there’s one he has developed a particular fondness for: “I really enjoyed playing point guard and I think that’s something as the offseason goes on I’ll sit down and talk to [Erik Spoelstra] more about.
I think I’m vocal enough to take on that responsibility at the point guard position, getting guys in the right spots, understanding what everybody is trying to do out there, any given set. I think point guard also I like it because it’s challenging for me. I look forward to learning. It will keep me engaged in the game having to think that way.”
The question is whether the Heat uses Winslow only as a chip in a package for a high-end player or is willing to use him as a sweetener to dump an onerous contract such as Tyler Johnson’s.
With Richardson, he likely would only be traded for an All-Star caliber player.