The Heat are missing three shooting guards because of injuries, but coach Erik Spoelstra won’t consider using Dwyane Wade as a starter, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Just as he did in Cleveland before being traded, Wade has become the leader of the reserves and his coach doesn’t want to take him out of that role.
“I want [Wade] to get as comfortable with that second unit as possible,” Spoelstra said. “That to me is a dynamic, game-changing lineup that I want them to continue to gain confidence in, get more comfortable with.”
Wade agrees with Spoelstra’s decision, saying he needs to get used to working with his new teammates. He is averaging 13.6 points in seven games since returning to Miami.
There’s more Heat-related news to pass on:
- The team still hasn’t determined the best fit at power forward to complement center Hassan Whiteside, Jackson adds in a separate story. Justise Winslow, James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk have all been tried in the starting lineup, but none has excelled in that role. Luke Babbitt is getting the start tonight, and the Heat were 21-14 last season with him in the starting lineup. However, Spoelstra doesn’t seem to consider him a long-term solution. “Luke is a guy we all like having on the floor, not for big minutes,” Spoelstra said. “But he helps your best players out there. He’s smart. He knows how to play off of guys. He knows how to be in the right spot defensively. But I am not looking for anything from last year. This team is totally different.”
- The Heat are missing two important ingredients to attract players who agree to buyouts, according to Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Most free agents on the buyout market are looking for guaranteed playing time on a team with the potential to make a long postseason run. The Heat already have a crowded roster and currently hold down the final playoff spot in the East with a 32-30 record. Miami has nine days before its $5.5MM Disabled Player Exception expires, but Winderman doesn’t expect the team to use it. He adds that the Heat are considering Rodney McGruder, who recently returned from surgery on a stress fracture in his left tibia, to be their buyout addition.
- Two-way player Derrick Jones is active tonight, cutting him down to just five NBA days left on his 45-day limit, Winderman tweets. Once he hits that mark, Jones can’t be with the Heat until the G League season ends, unless he is signed to a rest-of-the-season contract or a 10-day deal.