While there has been a ton of speculation since the end of the Heat’s season earlier this week about Hassan Whiteside‘s future – or lack thereof – in Miami, head coach Erik Spoelstra didn’t indulge that speculation today when he met with reporters. As Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel writes, Spoelstra said that he “loves” working with Whiteside. The Heat head coach also downplayed the long-term impact of Whiteside’s minimal role – and underwhelming performance – during the postseason.
“In two weeks, nobody will be talking about that,” Spoelstra said, per Manny Navarro of The Miami Herald. “We can go take some time away. Hassan can get his mind off this and in a few weeks we can get back and connect and then start to share our experiences. He’s not the only guy that’s had to go through something like this. His head coach has. And like I said, a lot of players that have come through our system have been through that kind of playoffs. That is the playoffs. There’s going to be heroes. There’s going to people place blame on. None of it is fair. That’s just the way it is, and we can help him through that process.”
Spoelstra didn’t offer many specific details on the Heat’s offseason plans, but did share some thoughts on the future of Dwyane Wade, Wayne Ellington‘s upcoming free agency, and Miami’s ability to evolve into a legit contender, among other topics. Here are a few more of Spoelstra’s end-of-season comments, via Navarro:
On whether Wade will continue his career and return to the Heat:
“When we hugged after the game, I was basically in tears. And I’ll be honest, right now I’m just not emotionally ready to go there or even to have just a normal conversation. I tried to walk by. I said I don’t want to read anything in his eyes. I just said, ‘Hey, let’s both get away. Let’s connect for lunch in a few weeks.’ And we’re leaving it at that right now.”
On the possibility of the Heat re-signing Ellington despite cap constraints:
“First, I know the visions of my boss (team president Pat Riley). Anything in this league, he can get done. So people are saying, ‘Can you contend for a title with this team?’ I know who I work for. And then, secondly, I know the creativity of (general manager) Andy Elisburg. But none of it has to be decided right now. Wayne know that we love him.
“It was a unified symbiotic relationship where I think he really benefited from our culture. We benefited from his commitment to become the player that was transformational — his ability to come off screens. … And he can keep on going. If it means I’ve got to recruit him and tell him he can shoot 20 threes (per game) next year, quote me on that right now.”
On Spoelstra’s belief that the Heat can contend with their current cure:
“I haven’t even talked about it with Pat, but I’m sure he’ll say the same thing. We see progress, we see growth. Expectations do not scare us. What the opinion is on the outside, how rational or irrational people may think we are, we don’t care. We think we have a group that can contend.
“We believe as much as anything, you grow through continuity. It’s hard to start over. You see teams that get a little sick at sea when it gets a little uncomfortable. Our group doesn’t. But we’re also well aware of where we’re trying to get to and how much improvement we need to get to it. Whether that’s all from inside, that’s the only thing I’m focused on right now. We won’t even talk about anything personnel-wise for months. We don’t have to get to that point right now. That’s going to be Pat and Andy’s responsibility. It’s not the first time they’ve been able to build a championship-contending team. So we have great confidence and faith in the full holistic plan.”