Southeast Notes: Spoelstra, Oladipo, Durant, Kispert

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra seems likely to let chemistry and on-court fit determine the team’s lineups, writes Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel in a reader mailbag. Winderman notes that Miami may even consider Max Strus or Caleb Martin as its starting power forward. The team let starting power forward P.J. Tucker leave for the Sixers in free agency this summer and hasn’t re-signed backup Markieff Morris, also a free agent.

Though the starting roles of All-Star small forward Jimmy Butler, All-Defensive Team center Bam Adebayo, and $85M point guard Kyle Lowry appear secure for opening night, it seems that Spoelstra may be amenable to experimenting in training camp to figure out who fits best alongside that trio. Strus and Tucker closed the 2021/222 season as the other starters.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • In another mailbag, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel writes that a big X-factor in the Heat‘s success this season could be the two-way play of Victor Oladipo, who signed a new two-year, $18.2MM contract. Winderman notes that the handle, defense, and shooting upside of the 6’4″ combo guard out of Indiana could prove to be massive assets for Miami in the East. Since being acquired from the Rockets in 2021, Oladipo has appeared in just 12 regular season games with the Heat, though he proved to be a helpful contributor during Miami’s 2022 run to the Eastern Conference Finals, playing in 15 playoff contests. Winderman wonders if Oladipo may even prove himself to be more valuable to the Heat than extension-eligible Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro, given Oladipo’s defensive skill set.
  • As chatter of a potential Kevin Durant deal to the Heat looms, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel notes that Durant’s interest in joining the Heat can only go so far in getting him to Miami. Winderman writes that, due to the four years remaining on the All-Star forward’s current contract with the Nets, Brooklyn is in the driver’s seat for a potential trade, looking to extract maximum assets in any deal.
  • Wizards second-year small forward Corey Kispert could take a big leap in output this season if history is a reliable metric, opines Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. The 6’7″ swingman, 23, was selected with the No. 15 pick out of Washington in 2022. Across 77 games, he averaged 8.2 PPG, 2.7 RPG, and 1.1 APG, while shooting .455/.350/.871. Hughes writes that, across his final 24 appearances after All-Star weekend, Kispert converted 38.6% of his long-range looks, a significant uptick from the 32.2% of his triples he had nailed in his first 53 NBA games. Hughes takes stock of the first and second-season production of historic three-point specialists like Danny Green, Buddy Hield, Bryn Forbes, Seth Curry and others, and draws comparisons to what Kispert could be able to do in his second year with Washington.
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