MIAMI — Monday’s exhaustive Miami Heat training camp session, in which head coach Erik Spoelstra and the roster poured over film from Saturday’s preseason loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, wrapped up several hours later than planned.
With one day left before their preseason home opener against the Orlando Magic, Spoelstra understands time is limited with so much ground to cover and so many new players to integrate into the Heat system.
"I wanted to go over the film," Spoelstra said as he took questions from media in front of the Heat’s locker room rather than near the practice court per custom. "It’s important with this group since we do have some new faces. (We’re) putting together a new team, but we can’t skip steps and we want to make sure that we covered everything from that game before we even think about moving on to tomorrow night. So that sometimes can be a process where you have to take your time and I have to constantly remind myself to have patience."
This season’s 20-man training camp roster features six rookies and several journeymen, so the learning curve will be steep for the time being.
While the Heat weren’t too careless with the ball against the Pelicans — their 15 turnovers were virtually the same as last season’s average — they were unable to successfully defend the 3-point line and six of their shots were blocked. Miami has averaged a league worst in allowing blocks per game in each of the last four seasons.
Thankfully, veterans such as Udonis Haslem are there to help facilitate the process, though he joked that this was the first year where he had to truly put in the effort to learn everybody’s name at camp.
"We understand it’s going to be a process and it’s not going to happen overnight, but I think the guys are coming in with the right attitude," Haslem said. "The young guys are listening. They’ve been playing hard and everything has been pretty competitive."
While crisp execution, especially among so many new teammates, can hardly be expected on either side of the court this early in the preseason, Spoelstra must nonetheless continue to demand it from his players with the regular season around the corner.
"We covered the film and then drilled all the things that we went through on Saturday night," Spoelstra said. "There were a lot of good things, but consistently (having) everybody understanding what we’re trying to do — on the same page — that’s something that we had to work on today."
For his part, Haslem didn’t sound too worried at this early point of training camp.
"We’ve got a ways to go," he said. "Obviously we did some good things, but there was some things we could have did better. We have to play better defensively, compete a little harder. The offense is going to come, that’s just with time and continuity and just getting to learn each other."
His longtime teammate, Dwyane Wade, also cautioned that time was needed before the roster can be properly evaluated.
"There’s concerns, but we all have to learn the system," he said. "We have 13 new guys, so it’s not going to happen overnight and we all got to be committed to being patient and understanding that we’ve got guys that have to learn our system. We had guys last year that knew the system and we still got burned a few times. We just have to work harder at it and we’ll be alright."
PLAYERS REACT TO NEW NBA TV DEAL
A few Heat players expressed excitement over the new television deal struck between the NBA, Walt Disney Co. and TNT that was announced hours earlier by commissioner Adam Silver.
Nine-year veteran Danny Granger had to be corrected when told the new deal was actually triple, not double, the value of the previous deal.
"It tripled?" he said. "That’s unbelievable. Honestly, what the NBA has done and how it’s expanded globally, it’s really impressive. I think it’s a credit to the guys, Adam Silver, and their offices and what they’ve done — and the players. So it’s encouraging for all of us. It’ll definitely be a point of discussion at the next collective bargaining agreement, I’ll tell you that."
Wade, who holds a player option to become a free agent in 2016 when the deal kicks in, could benefit greatly from the increased revenue each NBA team will receive under the new deal. Player salaries under the new salary cap are expected to skyrocket in line with teams’ larger profits.
"It’s a great deal for the league," Wade said. "Obviously as players we know in the NBA we’re 50-50 partners, so it’s great for both sides. Obviously we’re not one of the biggest markets, but I’m sure that, as we always do, we’ll maximize as much as possible on that so everyone benefits from it. It’s great that our game is continuing to grow that way."
Some players who did not see action during Saturday’s preseason opener could get their first minutes for the Heat when the team hosts the Magic.
Spoelstra indicated that Chris "Birdman" Andersen went through the Monday’s practice without any issues after sitting out with a sore calf. Josh McRoberts has seen his workload increase as he works his way back from a minor toe injury. Spoelstra also said Justin Hamilton was able to practice with the team, though he is still not cleared for full-contact drills after undergoing a procedure last week to correct a minor heart abnormality. Additionally, Spoelsta confirmed all 20 players will fly to Brazil later this week for their upcoming preseason game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Shooting guards Andre Dawkins, Reggie Williams and Tyler Johnson did not play against the Pelicans because of coach’s decision and not due to injury.