The Heat announcing that Rodney McGruder made the team’s regular season roster may have surprised some around the league, but coach Erik Spoelstra loves the player’s work ethic and grit, writes Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. “You love his perseverance, his fortitude, the grit,” Spoelstra said. “These things you can’t teach, you have to go through life experiences to develop it. The way he came through is almost text book in how you would want to develop a player — go overseas, learn how to handle more responsibilities and then start the process of training camp and summer league. Then, play a season and a half with our D-League team under our staff and really develop there and then finish off with another summer league, a full summer of development, a training camp, all the way to the 11th hour. And he just pushed through and persevered and worked on just getting better as a basketball player. You really root for guys like that. By the end of it, he really felt like a veteran Miami Heat player through all those experiences. But a lot of guys don’t have the type of makeup to be able to go through all those experiences without getting discouraged.”
Here’s more from the East:
- Ben Bentil got a solid partial guarantee of $250K when he signed with the Celtics earlier this year, and after he was cut by Boston, he received some more guaranteed money from a second time. Per Chris Reichert of Upside and Motor (via Twitter), the Pacers – who will send Bentil to their D-League affiliate in Fort Wayne – guaranteed $50K of his salary for the few hours he spent on the NBA roster.
- Hornets small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is tired of questions regarding his twice injured shoulder and insists he is 100% healthy entering the season, Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer writes. “I don’t want to talk about my injury anymore,” Kidd-Gilchrist said. “I’ve been back to my old self ever since I started playing again. I feed off my energy. That’s always how I’ve played. My goal is to be healthy the whole season. When I get to that point, I’ll say ‘Yes! Let’s Go!’“
- The relationship between LeBron James and Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert has come a long way over the past few seasons, Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com notes. “I think everybody learns every day in the decisions they make and the things they do,” Gilbert said. “It was just a whole different feeling from Day 1 [when James came back in 2014]. Keep in mind that we just had one bad night in five years that we were here with LeBron — remember the first two [years James played in Cleveland], Gordon Gund ran and owned the team. But we never had a bad day until the way it ended. And as bad as it was, it was one day, it was one night and everybody is a grown man and obviously we focused on the job here. And sometimes things happen for a reason, right? You just never know it at the time.“
Luke Adams contributed to this post.