The Heat should wait to see how the draft plays out before deciding whether to trade Goran Dragic, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami is tied for third in our latest Reverse Standings, which gives the organization a decent shot at landing one of the top point guards in the draft such as UCLA’s Lonzo Ball or Washington’s Markelle Fultz. However, Dragic will make $17MM next season and the Heat probably couldn’t find a similar talent in free agency for the same price. Also, he could be a valuable piece to keep in place if team president Pat Riley’s plans for a quick rebuilding project work out. Winderman concludes that Dragic should be dealt this season only if a team is willing to pay a premium price in return.
There’s more this morning out of Miami:
- Dragic has been dealing with soreness in his back for more than a week, according to Anthony Chiang of The Palm Beach Post. The problem began with back spasms in a December 23rd game, and the pain has been lingering ever since. Dragic sat out Friday’s game and is hoping a prolonged absence won’t be necessary. “The back is kind of tricky,” he said. “The only thing that I can say is I’ll go day-by-day and see how I’m going to feel.”
- Coach Erik Spoelstra sees progress even though the Heat closed out 2016 with a 10-24 record, Chiang writes in a separate story. Spoelstra has tried to build a winner without longtime stars Dwyane Wade, who signed with Chicago over the summer, and Chris Bosh, who has probably played his last game in Miami because of blood clot issues. Despite a revamped roster, Spoelstra doesn’t like to consider this a rebuilding year. “This is my 22nd year with the Heat. We’ve been to the Finals five times and won three championships,” he said. “So what about all those other years? There’s a lot of other years that you’re not winning it or you’re not the last team or where you want to be. So, whatever word you want to use, we’ve had to do it before several times — retool, rebuild — and we’ve done it quicker than most. That’s because of the commitment to developing and building these standards.”
- James Johnson has played well enough to earn consideration as the starting power forward, Winderman contends in a separate column. Spoelstra has been reluctant to make the move because Johnson has been a valuable member of the second unit. Johnson will be back on the free agent market again in July after signing a one-year, $4MM contract with Miami.