Tag: Goran Dragic

Miami Heat v Detroit Pistons

Erik Spoelstra: Heat’s starting lineup needs time before it’ll succeed


Who has the NBA’s best starting lineup?

The Warriors (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut)?

The Cavaliers (Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov)?

The Spurs (Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan)?

The Clippers (Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan)?

Take your pick between those four or other contenders like the Thunder, Rockets or Bulls.

But there’s one team that belongs in the discussion despite two oddities:

  • All five projected starters played for the team last season, but its projected starting lineup didn’t log a single minute together.
  • The team missed the playoffs.

Yup, the Heat with Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.

Bosh was sidelined for the rest of the season with blood clots just after Miami traded for Dragic. So, the lineup’s debut was postponed to this season.

On paper, the Heat have it all – offense and defense inside and out. They’re balanced, and nobody is playing out of position.

But Miami coach Erik Spoelstra cautions against expecting instant gratification.

Spoelstra, via Zach Lowe of Grantland:

“It’s not the kind of lineup where you can just throw it out there, and you know it will work,” Spoelstra says. “It’s going to take practice.”

The biggest question with the Heat’s top lineup is health, especially Wade. He’s 33 and has a history of knee problems. There are also questions about Whiteside’s ability to perform over a full season, Bosh’s rust and Deng’s longevity.

But those are all individual concerns.

Like I said, there’s a lot to like about this unit as a whole. The one area for caution is probably Dragic and Wade sharing ball-handling duties. Though they play different positions – Dragic point guard and Wade shooting guard – both are used to being the lead guard. That could take more time to sort out.

Mostly, though, I think Spoelstra is just trying to lower expectations. The less people think of a team, the more opportunity the coach has to impress (and the less blame he’ll take if the team falters).

Report: Heat want to take long look at young guards before trading Mario Chalmers

Mario Chalmers

The point guard rotation in Miami is clear-cut: Goran Dragic starts, Mario Chalmers comes off the bench, then second-year player Tyler Johnson will mop up any remaining minutes.

But as we noted before, Chalmers has been and remains available via trade. He’s been on the trade block since about when Don Johnson became the face of Miami police.

If a Chalmers trade happens, is Johnson ready to step up? That’s one of the big questions as the Heat head into training camp next month, reports Barry Jackson at the Miami Herald.

And with Tyler Johnson also cleared to return from his broken jaw sustained in Summer League (he has been working out in Delray Beach), the Heat is back to full strength a month before training camp. The Heat, incidentally, wants to take a long look at Johnson and Josh Richardson in training camp before deciding whether to make a renewed attempt to trade Chalmers.

If they can stay healthy, with Chris Bosh and Dragic running the show, the Heat very well could be a top-four team in the East. On paper they have a lot of talent, we just need to see how it all blends. Then, if they are on that kind of trajectory, would they want to trade Chalmers? Only if they have someone who can step in and take those minutes on without much of a drop-off.

Just something to watch as the Heat start to move toward the season. Because you can be sure Chalmers’ name will come up in trade rumors. Guaranteed.

Report: Heat also interested in Jamal Crawford

Miami Heat v Los Angeles Clippers

There have been no shortage of – somewhat self-fueled – trade rumors involving Jamal Crawford this summer.

The Cavaliers and Knicks are reportedly interested in the Clippers guard.

Add one more team to the list.

Frank Isola of the New York Daily News:

Miami is another team that is also interested in Crawford.

The Heat lack dynamic playmakers off the bench, and staggering the minutes of Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic is one solution. So is hoping Mario Chalmers bounces back from a down season.

Another: Trading for Crawford.

However, it’s tough to see a logical deal.

Miami has a couple players with similar salaries to Crawford – Chalmers and Chris Andersen – that it probably wouldn’t mind trading. Andersen would particularly fit with the Clippers, who could use another backup center besides Cole Aldrich.

But how would the Heat sweeten the pot? They  can’t trade a first-round pick and have no unprotected second-rounder before 2021. Unless the Clippers really like Tyler Johnson or James Ennis, it’s hard to see Miami making this worth the Clippers’ while.

Still, with Lance Stephenson, Pablo Prigioni and Austin Rivers, Crawford is a little more expendable. The Clippers would be more balanced with Andersen rather than Crawford (and save in luxury-tax payments). Is that enough to warrant the talent downgrade? I don’t think so, but it’s at least worth a conversation.

Report: Heat and Pelicans scheduled to play on Christmas

New Orleans Pelicans v Miami Heat

Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside.

Anthony Davis.

One of the NBA’s most-complete starting lineups or one of the league’s best players?

We’re on track to witness the debate this Christmas.

Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald:

The Heat are mainstays on the NBA’s Christmas schedule. They’ve played the last six years and 10 of the last 11.

The Pelicans, on the other hand, have just one Christmas game in franchise history – a 20-point loss to the Magic in 2008. Even if you count their time in Charlotte, which you shouldn’t, that’s the franchise’s only Christmas game.

This would be a cool old-vs.-new matchup, and Davis is perfect representation of new. He excelled last season in his first playoff appearance, and he deserves national attention again.

Report: Heat will pick up contract of Tyler Johnson, as expected

Tyler Johnson

Goran Dragic is the starting point guard in Miami. The question is who plays when he sits?

With Shabazz Napier now gone and Mario Chalmers still being shopped around, it was a forgone conclusion that the Heat would pick up the contract of point guard Tyler Johnson. They will do that soon, reports Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Johnson was all about energy. He came in as a spark plug off the bench and played hard — sometimes crossing the line into out of control. He shot just 41.9 percent overall (although 37 percent from three) and had too many turnovers. But you could see the potential in the former Fresno State player who spent much of last season in the D-League.

This is an easy call for the Heat, he’s the kind of player they should be developing.

To my mind so is James Ennis, who showed not only can he finish at the rim but he is a threat from three (32.6 percent). If he can develop better handles and refine his shot he’s got a place in the league. The question is do the Heat think he has that in him (and can they bring it out of him). With Justise Winslow now in the mix at the three, how big a priority is Ennis?