Miami Heat getting closer to some roster decisions
A pair of supposedly meaningless preseason games could become an
all-or-nothing scenario for those fighting for jobs with the Miami
And by Sunday or Monday, an overcrowded locker room will likely
become a touch less occupied.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra likes to say – though he can’t usually
do it with a straight face – that he thinks he’s figured out who
three starting spots will go to this season.
So congratulations, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris
To absolutely no surprise, you’ve won starting jobs with the
Carlos Arroyo may have the inside track toward starting at point
guard, and Joel Anthony is the favorite to be the first-string
center. Everything else remains a mystery, especially toward the
back end of the roster, and this weekend’s preseason games against
Oklahoma City and San Antonio will answer a lot of questions about
who’ll wind up making this Miami team.
”Guys want to try to make the team, so it’s not about
pressing,” James, the two-time reigning NBA MVP, said after
practice Thursday. ”It’s about just trying to go out there and I
guess showing them what you can do to help our team. You’ve got to
The Heat have 19 players on the floor in camp, 20 when counting
rookie Da’Sean Butler, who continues to recover from surgery to
repair a knee ligament he tore while playing for West Virginia in
last spring’s NCAA Final Four.
Only 15 will be on the roster when the season starts Oct. 26.
Some calls are no-brainers.
Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller, Eddie House and Mario Chalmers are
on the team. Juwan Howard has been a favorite of Heat president Pat
Riley’s for years, and his veteran presence is a commodity. James
Jones could have gone elsewhere; the Heat said they desperately
wanted him back. It’s possible Miami keeps four centers, with
Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Jamaal Magloire and Dexter Pittman joining
The Heat like what Patrick Beverley has shown in camp, and rave
about Kenny Hasbrouck’s toughness. Shavlik Randolph knows the Heat
system after spending some time with the team last year. And they
consider Butler to be first-round talent.
Right there, that’s 18 players already – which proves that tough
calls are looming.
”I might sit some guys out particular games so we can look at
people,” Spoelstra said. ”We have a lot of guys. We’ll probably
make some decisions after this trip.”
Miami plays Oklahoma City in Kansas City on Friday, then heads
to San Antonio the next night.
When Pittman played his college ball at Texas, he was just
hoping for an NBA look. Now with the Heat returning to Big 12
country for a couple of nights, he’s hoping that whatever minutes
he gets on this trip move him closer to an NBA job.
”I know that the Heat organization, they make smart moves,”
Pittman said. ”If they decide to keep me or let me go, then that’s
what’s was best for the team. It’s like when you’re in love with
someone. You want what’s best. You can let ’em go or keep ’em. But
it’s a business. All I can do to help myself is come in here and
Having an abundance of options from which to choose the members
of a rotation and find the final names to place on the roster is
the proverbial nice problem to have, Riley said on the eve of
”Well, when you start to have to be worried about the bottom of
your roster, then you’re in good shape, OK?” Riley said. ”I mean,
for about two years here, we were always worried about the top of
the roster, did we have enough?”
That’s no longer a question.
The big one that remains is who’s coming along to play the
less-glitzy, yet still vital roles.
”You try not to think about it,” Beverley said. ”You just try
to get better. Every day I walk in here, try to get better, try to
compete, learn some new things. That’s what’s up to me.”