Coach Erik Spoelstra cites “an instant and inherent built-in level of urgency” for the Heat to reach the playoffs in Dwyane Wade‘s final season, relays Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Miami is stuck in ninth place at 26-31, a game behind the Pistons, whom they host tonight. Wade announced before the start of the season that this would be his final year in the NBA, and the organization wants to send him off with a playoff appearance.
Wade won’t be moved into the starting lineup, but Spoelstra plans to expand his role. Wade has remained productive in his 16th season, averaging 14.1 points per night in 47 games, all as a reserve.
“You can see what’s happening,” Spoelstra said. “He’s going to be starting to play starter’s minutes. We’ve made it through this far of the season and he’s feeling great. We’ve protected each other to this point — but now it’s go time. I’m going to keep the dynamics as much as I can the same. I don’t want too many moving parts this late in the season.”
There’s more Heat news to pass along:
- Miami will see a couple of players in the next three days who were traded just before the deadline, Winderman adds in the same story. The Pistons feature Wayne Ellington, who wasn’t getting consistent playing time in Miami, and Spoelstra said the organization worked with Ellington’s representatives to find him a better situation. “He decided at this point of his career he wanted to go to a place where he could play going into free agency,” Spoelstra explained. Tyler Johnson and the Suns will face the Heat on Monday.
- Goran Dragic will play tonight for the first time since having knee surgery in December, but his minutes will be limited, Winderman tweets.
- Wade is a strong proponent of lowering the draft age so that players who believe they’re ready for the NBA won’t be forced into a year of college basketball, Winderman adds in a separate piece. The NBA submitted a proposal to the players union this week to lower the draft age from 19 to 18, but the change that won’t take effect until 2022 if it’s approved. “I just think the rule should be that if a guy, if he’s good enough to come out at 18, at 17, he should be able to,” Wade said. “Just like other sports and other things in the world, you’re able to go to the war early.”