Spoelstra: “This is a really important summer for Dion Waiters”
Heat president Pat Riley and retiring guard Dwyane Wade did not speak at Friday’s season-ending wrap-up session, but others did.
▪ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said: “We didn’t make the playoffs, and that was disappointing to everyone in this organization... I feel a responsibility for that. Three weeks [left in] the season, we were in the playoffs and it was in our control. We weren’t able to get the job done, and that’s something we will have to really own in the offseason. It feels like a gut punch we weren’t able to get in the playoffs. We feel we could have done something. That’s the disappointment I will live with in the offseason.”
▪ Spoelstra’s strongest comments were on Dion Waiters. He said he simply must get in better shape to have the role he wants next season. If he doesn’t, he won’t.
Asked what weight he needs to get to, Spoelstra wouldn’t say but said: “He knows. I know. Pat [Riley] knows. He simply has to get there and that’s it. This is a really important summer for Dion Waiters. He’s healthy. He feels good. He has to work.
“If he’s there [at those weight and body fat targets] the first day of training camp, he will get the role he wants. He can move the needle in this game when he’s physically right and in world-class shape. You have not forgotten the player he was two years ago. Getting in optimal world-class shape will help him get that gear that he has.”
Spoelstra has no issue with the volume of three-pointers that Waiters tried. “Three-point shooting is one of his better skills. He’s really worked on it. He’s really improved. He’s one of the better shooters in this league. He was important for our offense, that shooting. When he gets in optimal shape, he will be able to get to the basket the way he needs to. He was able to do that at times, not consistently enough.”
▪ Bam Adebayo said he believes he is compatible playing alongside Hassan Whiteside, but Spoelstra — to this point — doesn’t seem to agree. They played just 14 minutes together all season, and Miami was outscored by six in those minutes.
“I am open to anything,” Spoelstra said when asked if the Whiteside/Adebayo lineup is workable, repeating a line he used last year. “That could be a possibility because of the growth of [Bam’s] game. The way our team was set up, we had a lot of guys that could move the needle in our frontcourt positions. We value [Whiteside] a great deal. I know it’s easy to say he finished the season on the bench.. and took a step back. I know he would like to play more. For the first time since he’s been here, he made improvements in detail and team defense. Our defense was better for the first time when he was out there.”
Josh Richardson said an Adebayo/Whiteside combo would be “a terror” from a rebounding standpoint.
▪ Spoelstra said besides Dwyane Wade’s impact on the floor and off, the other positives from this season would be “the growth of our young players. Bam from his rookie year to his second year really measured out as one of the top centers in the league. We had a winning record when he was in the starting lineup. The growth of his game was notable. He had 14 games with five-plus assists.”
▪ Spoelstra raved about the growth of Justise Winslow. He said Derrick Jones Jr. “was making it tough to me to play all of my fours. That wasn’t something I necessarily anticipated. Derrick Jones was making me play him and that affected other players. Josh Richardson took the challenge of defending the top wing players night in, night out. He really improved. ”
He said Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten “were two of the better G League prospects in the league. You could make the case Yante was the best player in the G-League. Duncan, if not the best, one of the best three-point shooters in the entire G-League.”
▪ On Kelly Olynyk: “When there were a lot of moving parts, that affected his rhythm at times. K.O. is the type of guy that needs more stability. He needs everything around him to be more stable and then he can be his best version. He and Bam developed a nice chemistry between the two of them.”
▪ Spoelstra said what Wade “gave to that locker room will last for the rest of their careers.”
Spoelstra also reiterated he wants Udonis Haslem back. “Three months from now, we can revisit this. He’s the brand of our Miami Heat culture.”
▪ Spoelstra said “we were able to build a respected defense” and noted Miami was No. 1 in the number of times it held teams below 40 percent shooting, was top three in number of times it held teams under 100 points and was second in paint points allowed. “That’s important to our organization,” Spoelstra said.
But offensively, Miami still ranks in the lower tier of the league in many categories.
“The other part I have to figure out is lack of consistencies in offensive rhythm,” Spoelstra said. “I have to spend the next few weeks auditing that. That’s my job.”
He spoke of helping players develop a “broader offensive skill set. It’s learning to make decisions in different coverages, learning to create better shots for your teammates.”
▪ Spoelstra is open to Adebayo becoming a three-point shooter, but he doesn’t want him “to come in thinking he’s Dirk Nowitzki and knocking down five threes per game.”
▪ Spoelstra said he doesn’t want to label Winslow a point guard or use him only there. He said when Winslow “fills up the boxscore is when he’s at his best.”
▪ One thing that would help is if Adebayo develops a more consistent jump shot. He intends to work on that this summer.
▪ Adebayo might continue as the Heat’s starting center, but he doesn’t seem to feel any starter’s entitlement.
Asked if he considers himself an NBA starter now, Adebayo said: “Who knows? You never know. I’ve been in and out of the starting lineup this year. Everybody has to go with that mentality of you’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to earn certain things. Next year, you never know. I might earn my spot again and be a starter or I might be a reserve.”
Overall, Adebayo said: “I am happy for my growth. I did a lot more than last year with me being more confident and more minutes and experience.”
▪ Olynyk, on the Heat losing to too many bad teams: “That sort of consistency and beating who you’re meant to beat, that’s what makes the good teams good and that’s how you get in the playoffs. That’s how you win in this league, beating who you’re meant to beat, taking care of home court and that kind of stuff. Whatever the reason is, if we had the answer, we probably would have solved it.”
▪ Spoelstra said James Johnson getting “in world class shape... is paramount for him.”
▪ Winslow said that while he loves playing point guard and having the ball is his hands, he’s comfortable and happy to play either guard spot or small forward.
“I don’t want the narrative to be me and Goran fighting over that position,” Winslow said. “If James Harden and Chris Paul can play together, me and Goran can play together.”
He doesn’t necessarily believe he’s well suited for power forward any more: “Is that where I think I will be most efficient and most successful? No.”
Please check back throughout the day as more players speak over the next six hours.