Dwyane Wade is back. Here’s what he had to say about his return from paternity leave
A six-pack of Heat notes on a Tuesday, with Miami (7-12) set to host Atlanta on Tuesday evening:
▪ After Dwyane Wade scored 35 points — one point less than his age — in Toronto on Sunday, his phone lit up with texts from other NBA players.
“It’s a lot of guys; it’s cool,” he said.
And they all had a variation of the same question: “You sure you want to retire?”
So could Wade’s excellent offensive work so far this season make him rethink his decision to retire?
At this point, no.
“I continue to say, I think I’ve done a pretty good job of trying to adjust my game to my body or my age or the way the game has changed,” he said.
“But also, I tell people, I’m retiring because I want to, not because I physically can’t play the game no more. I think I’ve actually found a pretty good role that if I wanted to stay in it for a while, I think I could do a good job in it in my minutes of coming off the bench and being a spark at different times.
“But for me, it’s something I want to do. It’s time for me to walk away from the game. It’s not because of a talent standpoint, it’s just that I’ve given it enough. I want to give something else what I’ve given to the game of basketball.”
Wade — whose 35 points Sunday were the most ever by a Heat player off the bench — is averaging 14.9 points and shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 39.6 percent on three-pointers, which would be a career high for a player who shot less than 29 on threes in his career entering this season.
▪ I asked Wade if he might try to go all Kobe in his final game if it has no impact on the Heat’s chances of making the playoffs or its seeding.
Bryant scored 60 points on 22-for-50 shooting in his final NBA game, a regular-season win over Utah.
“I don’t know,” he said, smiling. “I honestly haven’t thought that far. I don’t want to even put that in our mind. I want us to get on a winning streak here so we can get back in this playoff race. I would rather go out in the playoffs than go out on the last game of the regular season. But when we get to that point of the season, we can have this conversation again.”
Is Wade’s 35-point performance a good reminder to him that you can still do that?:
Well, yeah.,” he said. “I got a 16-year-old son who thinks he can beat me. It definitely helps when I let him know, ‘You ain’t scored 35 in high school yet, bro.’”
▪ Coach Erik Spoelstra said it’s a combination of healing and conditioning that still has Dion Waiters sidelined more than 10 months after an ankle procedure that Waiters said would sideline him 8 to 10 months.
Asked if he expects Waiters to play before the calendar year is over, Spoelstra said: “We don’t have an update” before adding that he’s optimistic by nature.
“He’s making progress,” Spoelstra said.
Waiters, in the second year of a four-year, $52 million contract, is doing some basketball work, but the Heat wants him to get in better shape.
Guard Wayne Ellington said he asked Waiters how he’s feeling on Tuesday morning.
“He said he’s feeling good,” Ellington said. “He’s been looking good. He’s heading in the right direction.”
▪ Ellington, who has started 133 of 604 NBA games, said starting has been an adjustment in Goran Dragic’s absence after starting just 13 and two games in his first two seasons with the Heat.
He already has started six games this season.
“It’s a little bit of a challenge, something I can adjust to instead [of sitting on the bench] and taking the game in a bit,” he said. “Just trying to get a little lather before.”
He said starting is “fun,” but being an NBA starter “is a little overrated.”
Dragic remains out with a knee issue. Here’s an update on the Dragic situation.
▪ Rodney McGruder, who’s averaging a career-high 12.4 points on 44.6 percent shooting, said teams are starting to pay more attention to him when the Heat has the ball.
“I’m on the scouting report [now],” he said, noting second defenders are coming at him more than ever.
McGruder, who is shooting 7 for 22 from the field in his past two games, has been exceptional at lob passes and said teams are “trying to discourage that” by sending a second defender into the paint.
▪ James Johnson, who missed shootaround for personal reasons but is expected to play Tuesday against Atlanta, is shooting just 20 percent (6 for 30) in his first four games back, including 3 for 11 (27.3 percent) on threes.
What’s more, he has only seven rebounds in 84 minutes. But he does have 14 assists and two turnovers and his ball-handling ability helps the offense.
“He hasn’t played NBA games since the end of April,” Spoelstra cautioned. “There will always be an adjustment.”