Heat open training camp, spurred by finals loss

LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem, Joel

Anthony and Dexter Pittman practiced with the Miami Heat on

Friday.

Yes, that was everyone.

With teams unable to even start the process of getting contracts

done until 2 p.m. on Friday, the reigning Eastern Conference

champions simply decided to go through what amounted to basically a

dress rehearsal for what will be the first full practice on

Saturday. By then, a dozen more deals are expected to get

finalized, giving the Heat more than enough players to start the

process of getting ready for a new year.

”Today is not obviously your traditional first day of training

camp,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Welcome to the first steps in the post-lockout world, where

normalcy may still be a day or two away – at least.

When the Heat convene Saturday afternoon, they’ll have 14 days

left before the plane leaves for Dallas and a Christmas Day opener

against the Mavericks in a rematch of last season’s NBA finals.

Spoelstra plans on jumping back to near where the team left off,

starting with what he called a playoff practice to gauge how much

the Heat remembers from a few months ago.

The Heat expect 18 players in training camp, with Mike Miller

(hernia) and Eddie House (left knee) sidelined while recovering

from surgery and likely out for two weeks or more. Mario Chalmers –

who agreed Friday to a new deal that could pay up to $12 million

over three years – is expected on the floor Saturday, as are fellow

holdovers from last season Juwan Howard and James Jones, both of

whom agreed to new deals.

Shane Battier signed Friday night and will practice Saturday, as

should Eddy Curry, who has been in just 10 NBA games over the past

three years.

”I’ve been knowing Eddy since high school basketball,” Bosh

said. ”I think we know what he’s all capable of doing when he’s in

shape and is at the top of his game. It’s unfortunate what has

happened to him in the past few years, but I’m sure he’s eager to

get back and hopefully he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder as

well.”

And how does Curry look to Bosh?

”Looks good. Looks good,” Bosh said.

Wade, who has worked out with Curry often – they are both pupils

of trainer Tim Grover in Chicago – said he was also impressed.

”It was good to see him come in,” Wade said of Curry, who was

listed at 6-foot-11 and 295 pounds in his last NBA stint. ”Just to

walk in, I haven’t seen nobody walk through them doors that big in

a long time. So it was good to see.”

Wade, James and Bosh played plenty of basketball this summer,

and Spoelstra raved about their condition entering camp. Bosh is

noticeably more muscular, Wade has worked to trim his body fat even

below the notoriously demanding Heat standards, and James has said

he’s been ready to attack the new season since about mid-July

anyway.

The goal in Miami is obvious, of course. After losing to Dallas

in six games last spring, nothing less than a title will satisfy,

but at this point, the time isn’t right for any rah-rah speeches,

Wade said. For now, the Heat are simply happy to be back to work,

given that a few weeks ago many players were bracing themselves for

no season at all.

”You kind of miss it, man,” Wade said. ”The smell of the gym,

hearing the balls bounce, looking on the other end of the court,

seeing the guys down there, working with the coaches you’re working

with, you miss it. It becomes a family and we’re just happy that

we’re back.”

The practice uniforms were new, but other than that, very little

seemed different about the Heat on Friday. The coaching staff is

unchanged, the philosophy will be no different and the rotation

figures to be relatively similar to what Miami had last season.

So it’s a far cry from the start of camp a year ago, when the

Heat worked James, Bosh, Miller and a slew of other new guys into

the mix. And given that this will be an abbreviated training camp,

there’s a notion that Miami could have a leg up on teams that will

have many changes from last season.

James cautioned about overstating the importance of that.

”Missing these two-and-a-half months, it’s no advantage for any

team,” James said. ”We would love to have those months back where

we could continue to come together as a team, but we have the same

time as everyone else has and our guys are just going to try to

work every day to get better as a team and be ready to play.”

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