Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is pleased with the growth that Goran Dragic displayed in running the team’s offense during the second half of the season and in the playoffs, Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald relays. “You want to leverage his strengths as much as possible,” Spoelstra said of Dragic. “He really improved in a lot of areas. He had to run a team different from the teams he has been successful on. That helped him immensely during the playoffs. He learned how to execute in halfcourt basketball. When we were able to play a different pace and tempo after the All-Star break, he had an improved skill set to play multiple styles of basketball, which is absolutely a necessity in the playoffs. You can’t just play one style. I’ve enjoyed seeing Goran’s growth as a basketball player. Now he’s learning how to impact winning on both sides of the floor. He’s been a joy to coach.”
Here’s more from South Beach:
- Spoelstra wouldn’t address the reports that Chris Bosh may not be cleared by the team’s medical staff to return to action, but did note how difficult the power forward’s health woes have been on both the player and the organization, Jackson notes in the same piece. “There’s nothing new,” Spoelstra said regarding Bosh. “Right now, we’re going to get away and decompress. Obviously, it was very tough for the team. You really feel for CB because you know how much the game means to him. You really feel for him. It was a tough year emotionally for this team, starting with Coach [Keith] Smart, when he had to take his leave of absence for his cancer. I’ve never been through anything like that. At the same time, it was an extremely gratifying year. Everything we went through, we really developed some friendships and relationships through this almost eight months of a season. We were disappointed about the final result. We will always have bigger expectations here at the Heat.”
- Small forward Luol Deng, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, said he prefers to re-sign with the Heat and that like his previous free agency decisions, what he does this summer won’t revolve primarily around money, Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post relays (Twitter links). The 31-year-old earned $10,151,612 for his efforts this past season.
- The Heat are likely to face stiff competition for unrestricted free agent big man Hassan Whiteside this summer, but the team intends to take advantage of the next six weeks when it will be the only franchise allowed to talk contract details with the player, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. “Well, we’ll get to July when we get to July,” Spoelstra said. “But, in the meantime, it’s going to be spending a lot of time in our building, still doing rehab, treatment and then we’re fully open, as we always are, to player development all the way up until that date. But I anticipate spending some more time with Hassan in the immediate future, as he gets healthy.”