Barry Jackson

Adebayo gets clarity on contract and teammates expect a jump. And what surprised Dragic

“Right now, I believe he’s our starting point guard,” says Riley about Goran Dragic

Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks to the media after the NBA basketball team's draft party, early Friday, June 21, 2019, in Miami.
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Miami Heat President Pat Riley talks to the media after the NBA basketball team's draft party, early Friday, June 21, 2019, in Miami.

A six-pack of Heat notes on a Wednesday:

Who’s poised to make the biggest jump on the Heat this year?

If you listen to players, Bam Adebayo would be a safe bet.

And the Heat on Wednesday took steps to ensure that Adebayo will be around a while, exercising the fourth-year option on his rookie contract. Adebayo stands to make $5.1 million in that 2020-21 season, after making $3.45 million this season.

Adebayo is eligible for restricted free agency in the summer of 2021, but Miami can offer him an extension next offseason.

In recent months, Derrick Jones Jr., Udonis Haslem and Duncan Robinson all spoke of their heightened expectations for the third-year player who replaced Hassan Whiteside as the Heat’s starting center over the final two months of last season.

Goran Dragic became the latest player to join the Bam bandwagon.

“First off, he’s going to get more minutes, more exposure,” Dragic said this week. “He already got tested, and we know what he can do. He’s a great player, great screener, roll to the basket. He brings a lot of energy to the team and I feel like this year is going to be different. More minutes, more responsibility. Everybody feels like, including me, that he’s ready for this big step in his career.”

Jones said earlier this offseason that Adebayo has made strides with his jump shot.

“He’s a shooter,” Jones said. “Everybody should have known by now. He didn’t shoot them last year because that was something we didn’t need him to do at the time. But now the ball is going to be in Bam’s hands a little bit more, so Bam’s going to be shooting those shots.”

Dragic didn’t expect to see Josh Richardson dealt this offseason.

“With Josh, I was a bit surprised,” he said. “I was sad to see him go. But at the same time, I think he’s going to do well in Philadelphia. He’s a great player, great team player who is great around guys in the locker room.

“And [Whiteside], too, I think for H it’s good for him that he got a new fresh start. I wish him all the best. We’ll see how all those two guys are going to play. I know when we we’re going to play against those two guys, they’re going to go harder against us. So we have to be ready.”

Dragic said “if we’re healthy, I think we can [make] some noise... Tyler Herro, he’s really a great rookie. I was watching him in summer league. And of course, with the addition of Jimmy Butler, I think we’re a better team. The only thing that’s going to change is probably rotation and some minutes. You need to believe you can do something big. That’s going to be our approach in our training camp and of course go game by game. I want us to be healthy throughout the season. If we’re healthy, I think we can do some noise.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, appearing on Adrian Wojnarowski’s ESPN podcast in a joint interview with Clippers coach Doc Rivers, spoke of how much he values the support he has received with the Heat.

“I think Micky [Arison] and Pat [Riley] are two of the best tandems in ownership and president in all of sports,” Spoelstra said. “They’re up there. They understand the need for stability. They will weather storms and we all struggled that first year. I struggled quite a bit, particularly in that Finals series. But you also have these series that we were down in so many of them. They can swing either way. I mention that about our series against Boston. One play here or one play there, that’s the margin of difference, it’s really sometimes a shot going in or not going in. The ownership and my bosses, I love who I work for because they do have my back. “

On Riley, Spoelstra said: “He’s the Bill Walsh of the NBA. He systematized it all. I think he brought so many different elements to it of really full-scale preparation, attention to detail, defense. Just the way he even presented himself, and then the CEO version of a modern day coach where he was presiding over a staff and allowing his assistant coaches to handle big parts of the coaching and preparation and coaching the team. I think he just modernized all of that, and you’re seeing it league wide all the time. And I agree with you [Doc Rivers], I don’t think he gets enough credit.”

But Spoelstra acknowledged there probably would have been a coaching change if he hadn’t won in the second or third year of the Big 3 era.

“It’s not fantasy land,” he said. “There was a reality. I also knew. If it wasn’t spoken, it was well known. They wouldn’t have wanted to do it, but if we would have kept on going and not getting over the hump somehow, someway, there would have been a change. And I get it, I understand. This is what this business is about. But you want a fair shot at it. And while you are competing for it and you’re in those series where there are swing moments, you want the full support of the people you work for.”

Asked what he has struggled with most as a coach, Spoelstra said: “Role definition is always something that is continuing to be a challenge. I don’t know if it’s more of a challenge now than it was 10 years ago, but I do feel for guys that might not be getting the minutes or might not even be in the rotation that you want to keep them still engaged.

“Things change, they constantly change. I’ve seen it just so many times — not only with us, but with other teams. Those guys that maybe they are the 10th or 11th guy for whatever reason and they quite honestly could deserve to be the seventh guy. If their mind is right and you can keep them still engaged, they can win you games and then find a way to get back in that rotation. That’s a balancing act that I feel like I’m always struggling with.”

Quick bonus news note: The Heat will hold training camp at Keiser University in West Palm Beach for five days in early October. It’s not open to the public.

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