Erik Spoelstra

Heat Notes: Butler, Adebayo, Spoelstra, Herro

Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are the Heat‘s leading scorers in the postseason, but their ability to get their teammates involved and make sure Miami’s role players stay aggressive has been crucial to the team’s playoff success, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald.

While Butler and Adebayo have combined to average 48 points per game in the playoffs, Gabe Vincent, Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Kyle Lowry, and Duncan Robinson have exceeded that figure as a group, averaging a total of 55 points per contest.

“They could easily take every shot they wanted to now, with guys down, guys like Tyler (Herro) that are out,” Martin said of the Heat’s stars. “That just shows the belief they have in us. And asking where the confidence comes from, a lot of it stems from those two guys, just believing in us and getting us open looks and believing we’ll knock them down, whether we make or miss, continue to make the right plays.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • The NBA announced in a brief press release on Tuesday afternoon that Butler has been fined $25K for violating league rules related to media interview access. Butler didn’t take part in his required post-game media availability following Game 3 on Sunday.
  • Head coach Erik Spoelstra may prefer to give his players the credit for Miami’s deep playoff run, but he deserves major recognition for the part he has played, William Guillory writes for The Athletic. “I can’t say I’ve been coached by somebody who moves like him,” Heat forward Kevin Love said. “He’s so committed to every facet. There’s no detail left unturned. His attention to detail is there, and he’s not a micromanager at all. He lets us play free. He lets us do our thing and allows us to be unapologetically ourselves.”
  • Heat guard Tyler Herro was cleared to resume non-contact basketball activities on Tuesday as he continues to make his way back from a broken right hand, according to Chiang of The Miami Herald. When Herro underwent surgery on April 21, the team announced he would miss at least six weeks — the six-week mark would be on June 2, while the NBA Finals will tip off on June 1. Still, while the possibility of Herro returning in the Finals hasn’t been ruled out, it’s not necessarily considered likely, Chiang says.

Knicks Notes: Randle, Robinson, Grimes, Thibodeau

After the Knicks were outrebounded and outhustled by the Heat in Game 4 of their second round series, Julius Randle raised concerns about his team’s drive and effort level, writes Nick Friedell of

“Maybe they want it more,” Randle said. “I don’t know. That’s been who we are all year and we got to find a way to step up and make those plays, keep the season alive.”

Randle added that the Knicks, who face a 3-1 deficit, need to “look within” before Game 5 as the series shifts back to New York and ask themselves “how bad do you want it?”

According to Friedell, Randle’s comments signal the extent to which the Knicks’ confidence has been shaken in the last week, as the team doesn’t seem to have an answer for Jimmy Butler and a veteran Heat squad.

Mike Vaccaro of The New York Post suggests that if Randle is right – or New York believes he’s right – the series is all but over. However, Vaccaro notes that some of Randle’s teammates expressed more optimism about the Knicks’ ability to reestablish the sort of physical, high-effort playing style that made their season a success.

“We’ve got to get back to being the tough, physical team that we’ve been, take care of the defense boards and take care of the ball better,” RJ Barrett said. “If we can clean that up we have a good chance.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Mitchell Robinson‘s struggles vs. Bam Adebayo and the Heat continued on Monday, says Zach Braziller of The New York Post. Miami racked up 13 offensive rebounds (seven in the fourth quarter) while Adebayo had 23 points and 13 rebounds. Robinson knows the team needs more from him to have a shot at a comeback. “S–t, got to box out. We got to limit them to one shot,” he said. “I didn’t do a good job of it today. And I got to be better.” For what it’s worth, Robinson was the only Knicks with a positive plus-minus in Game 4 (+1).
  • A starter for much of the season, Quentin Grimes came off the bench in the first three games of the second round and didn’t play more than 26 minutes in any of those contests. He returned to the starting five and logged nearly 42 minutes on Monday, but couldn’t provide the team with a major spark, Braziller writes for The New York Post.
  • Grimes told reporters on Monday that the Twitter user who identified himself as Grimes’ manager and griped about the second-year wing’s role after Game 3 is a close friend, but not his manager. “He doesn’t speak for me. He wants to win as much as I do,” Grimes said, per Braziller. “He just tweeted something that he probably regrets. But he doesn’t speak for me at all, for sure.”
  • Erik Spoelstra has been outcoaching Tom Thibodeau so far in this series, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post, who notes that Thibodeau has never defeated Spoelstra in the postseason, losing two playoff series to the Heat when he coached the Bulls. “He’s been putting on a clinic,” a veteran Eastern Conference scout said of Spoelstra, per Lewis.

Southeast Notes: Isaac, Adebayo, Perry, Wizards’ Draft

Jonathan Isaac only appeared in 11 games this season but the Magic forward is optimistic he’ll be fully healthy by training camp, according to Khobi Price of the Orlando Sentinel. Isaac’s career has been marred by lower body injuries.

“This is really going to be the first summer I have to fully work,” he said. “Every other summer I’ve been rehabbing trying to get back onto the court. So I’ll hopefully in the next few weeks be a full go. And doing everything I need to do to have a healthy next season.”

Isaac’s contract for next season has a base salary of $17.6MM. It is partially guaranteed for $7.6MM before it becomes fully guaranteed on Jan. 10.

We have more from the Southeast Division:

  • Bam Adebayo racked up 17 points and 12 rebounds in Game 3 of the Heat’s playoff series against the Knicks and coach Erik Spoelstra said his impact went beyond the numbers, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald relays. Adebayo also hounded Julius Randle defensively, among other contributions. Spoelstra feels players who don’t put up big offensive numbers often get overlooked. “The average eye might not realize how dominant Bam’s game was to impact a win. He was dominant,” Spoelstra said. “And the shame of it is in today’s day and age, people only view that as dominant if you score 40 points or more or have some kind of gaudy stat line.”
  • The Wizards should seriously consider longtime NBA executive Scott Perry to be their next GM, Jerry Brewer of the Washington Post opines. The current Knicks GM is the type a multidimensional talent evaluator who could give the Wizards an identity, according to Brewer, who says Perry also has the skill set and personality to lead the organization.
  • What would the Wizards do if they wound up with the No. 10 pick in the draft for the second consecutive season? Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington explores that question using the RealGM draft simulator. The Wizards ended up with Kentucky point guard Cason Wallace in that simulation, which would fill their biggest need at a great value, Hughes notes.

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, Herro, Westbrook, Strus

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra believes the team will soon solve its offensive issues after losing five of its first seven games, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. The fact that they play six of the next seven games at home should help the Heat fix their problems.

We’re closer than we are further away from it,” Spoelstra said. “But when you add losses to it, sometimes it can feel like you’re far away. But we’re not that far away.”

We have more on the Heat:

  • The issue regarding Tyler Herro is not whether he’s worthy of a starting role but rather if he’s better off as a sixth man, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel opines. What the Heat have gotten so far from Herro is a player still finding his way in that role. Herro is averaging 19.9 points and 2.9 assists in seven starts, compared to 20.7 points and 4.0 assists last season while playing the same number of minutes.
  • Trading Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson to the Lakers for Russell Westbrook wouldn’t make any sense, given that the franchise is always focused on going deep in the playoffs, Winderman writes in a separate story. While Westbrook’s $47MM contract would come off the books next summer, that would only ease luxury tax concerns rather than opening up significant cap space.
  • Max Strus is headed for free agency next offseason and he’ll get a huge bump in salary wherever he winds up. A mid-level taxpayer deal is a likely scenario, according to an executive interviewed by’s Sean Deveney. Strus says he’s not sweating the details. “If you get caught up in that stuff, it affects your play so I try not to think about it. I just do my best and put myself in a position for good things to happen,” he said.

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, Butler, Power Forward, Martin, Haslem

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra discussed many training camp-related topics this week, including who may start at power forward this season, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. As of now, it seems unlikely Jimmy Butler will slide up to the four.

“My thing with that is I would love to be able to, at some point in Jimmy’s career, just start him at all five positions,” Spoelstra joked. “I’ve already started him at point guard. I’ve started him at his natural position, the three. I’ve started him at the two. I’ve definitely played him at the four, and he’ll play some four this year, not likely starting him there.

“But, man, that’d be cool to start him at the four at some point, whether it’s this year or the future. And then, for sure, start him at the five. That would be a great legacy. But Jimmy is a brilliant competitor and basketball player. He’ll make it work no matter what position we have him at. But playing him at his strengths is important to him and to me and to the team.”

As Chiang notes, Butler has already made it clear that he doesn’t want to replace P.J. Tucker at the four. Other contenders for the team’s power forward spot include Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith and Bam Adebayo — though Adebayo would only make sense if Omer Yurtseven or Dewayne Dedmon start at center.

Here are some other notes from Miami today:

  • Spoelstra appreciates the “ambition” of so many players who want to start this season, Chiang writes in a separate article for the Miami Herald. Other potential starters include Tyler Herro, Victor Oladipo, Duncan Robinson and Max Strus — all of whom believe they’re worthy of that role. Herro easily has the best case, averaging 20.7 points on his way to winning the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award last season.
  • Martin, who also spoke about the team’s open starting forward slot, suggested that anyone who questions his ability to fill the role is showing some disrespect. “To me, it’s kind of a sign of disrespect a little bit that people are so worried about it,” he said, as relayed by Anthony Chiang. Of course, Martin is only 6’5″ and 205 pounds, so it’s understandable for fans to question whether he can play heavy minutes at power forward.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald examines a number of Heat topics, including why Udonis Haslem doesn’t want to get into coaching. Haslem is entering his 20th NBA season. He has served as a valuable locker room presence in recent years, but has only played a combined 18 games over the past three seasons.

Heat Notes: Lowry, Butler, Tucker, Strus

Kyle Lowry looks at the Heat’s loss in the conference finals as a “waste” of a season, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. Lowry missed eight postseason games due to a hamstring injury and struggled to regain the form that made him so effective in Toronto.

“I wish I would have been able to play a little bit better, at a higher level, but I didn’t,” Lowry said. “It just adds fuel. You don’t know how many more opportunities you will have to get back to this, so for me, honestly it was a waste of a year. “I only play to win championships. It was fun, and I appreciate my teammates, and I appreciate the opportunity. But for me, it’s a waste of a year. You’re… not winning a championship, it’s a wasted year.”

Lowry has two years left on his three-year, $85MM contract.

We have more on the Heat:

  • Jimmy Butler scored a combined 82 points in Games 6 and 7 but the Heat still came up short. He vows that Miami will be back in the Eastern Conference Finals again next season, according to Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “We had enough (pieces),” Butler said. “Next year, we will have enough and we’re going to be right back in the same situation, and we’re going to get it done.”
  • P.J. Tucker only played 17 minutes in Game 7 and coach Erik Spoelstra hinted it was injury-related, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. Tucker had been listed on the injury report with left knee irritation but it’s unclear if that was the issue. Tucker can opt out of his $7.35MM contract for next season and become a free agent this summer.
  • Max Strus had a 3-pointer overturned after several minutes of game action during the third quarter of Game 7. The NBA replay center in Secaucus, New Jersey deemed that Strus was out of bounds. Spoelsta was frustrated about the length of time between the shot and the overturn decision, Nick Friedell of ESPN writes. “I’m sure they will look at that, and we’ll probably be the case study for it,” Spoelstra said. “I’m OK if it happens the way it used to. They would look at it at the next foul or break and look at it and notice it, but it was probably 10 minutes of real time — somebody check on that.”

Southeast Notes: Wizards, Butler, Tucker, Hawks, Hornets

The Wizards will have plenty of options with the No. 10 pick in the 2022 draft, but it’s not realistic to expect the team to select its starting point guard at that spot, writes Ava Wallace of The Washington Post.

President of basketball operations Tommy Sheppard referred to the Wizards’ need for a point guard and their objectives in the draft as “two separate issues,” adding that the team will target the best talent available, rather than focusing on fit. He also left the door open for the possibility of moving up or down in the draft — or trading out of the first round entirely.

“For us, you’ve got to step back and say: ‘Do we have enough young guys? Do we need more talent?’ Whatever it is, we have this time to evaluate our roster, and the league tells you what it thinks about your players by the calls you get,” Sheppard said, according to Wallace. “We’re going to hear from a lot of people, already have heard from a lot of people. We can move up, we can move out, we can move — all these things are on the table.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • The sideline altercation between Heat star Jimmy Butler and head coach Erik Spoelstra during a March game vs. Golden State was the culmination of “three seasons’ worth of give-and-take” between the two men, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN. However, as Windhorst writes, they quickly moved past the confrontation and Butler has proven once again with his performance in the 2022 postseason that he’s worth some occasional drama.
  • Heat forward P.J. Tucker rarely puts up big numbers, but teammates and coaches appreciate his contributions that go beyond the box score, writes Wes Goldberg of The Miami Herald. “He’s one of the biggest reasons why we’re winning, because he does all the little things,” Butler said after Game 1. “It’s easy to follow suit whenever you’ve got somebody like that leading your team.” Tucker holds a $7.35MM player option for the 2022/23 season.
  • In a conversation with Chris Kirschner about the Hawks‘ upcoming offseason, John Hollinger of The Athletic explains why he thinks it’s unlikely that Atlanta and De’Andre Hunter reach an extension agreement this offseason and suggests that no one on the roster outside of Trae Young should be off-limits in trade talks.
  • The Hornets control the Nos. 13 and 15 picks in next month’s draft, and Rod Boone of The Charlotte Observer (subscriber-only link) believes the team should be willing to trade both of them for more immediate help, arguing that bringing in two more rookies wouldn’t do much for the team’s 2022/23 playoff aspirations.

NBA Announces 2021/22 Award Finalists

The NBA has announced the 2021/22 season award finalists for the league’s six major awards: Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Sixth Man of the Year, Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Most Improved Player.

[RELATED: Hoops Rumors’ 2022 NBA Award Picks]

The awards were voted on by a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. The three top vote-getters for each award are the finalists. They are as follows:

Most Valuable Player:

Rookie of the Year:

Sixth Man of the Year:

Coach of the Year:

  • Taylor Jenkins (Grizzlies)
  • Erik Spoelstra (Heat)
  • Monty Williams (Suns)

Defensive Player of the Year:

Most Improved Player:

Winners will be announced during TNT’s coverage of the NBA playoffs, according to the league.

Heat Notes: Spoelstra, First Round, Adebayo, Tucker

The Heat‘s first-round series against the Hawks could come down to the adjustments Erik Spoelstra makes on Trae Young, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel writes in his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag.

Miami will host Atlanta in Game 1 of the series on Sunday. Young led his team out of the play-in tournament by defeating Cleveland on Friday, recording 38 points and nine assists in 40 minutes.

The Heat could throw an array of options at Young in man-to-man coverage, including Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, Caleb Martin and Victor Oladipo. How Miami defends him in the pick-and-roll and whether it adapts could still determine the team’s level of success.

Here are some other notes from out of Miami:

  • Joe Vardon and Chris Kirschner of The Athletic examine the Heat’s first-round series, including who might guard Young, Bam Adebayo‘s health and more. Atlanta made the Eastern Conference Finals last season and finished with a 43-39 record this season. As Vardon and Kirschner note, Game 1 will tip off less than 48 hours after the Hawks played the Cavaliers, which doesn’t give them much time to prepare for the Heat. Miami will have a full week of rest before the first game.
  • Adebayo didn’t have any symptoms while he had COVID-19, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald tweets. The former All-Star center recently exited health and safety protocols and is set to play on Sunday.
  • Veteran forward P.J. Tucker (strained calf) also plans to play on Sunday, Chiang notes in a separate tweet. Tucker is coming off a successful regular season, providing versatile defense and shooting 41.5% from deep. He won an NBA title with the Bucks a year ago.

Erik Spoelstra Enters Health And Safety Protocols

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, the team announced (Twitter link). Assistant Chris Quinn will lead the club in his place.

This is Spoelstra’s first time entering the league’s protocols, though Quinn and fellow assistant Malik Allen did so earlier this season. Spoelstra spoke against the protocols back in December in the hopes that the league would re-examine them — the required quarantine period has since been reduced.

“Has everybody gotten their shots and their boosters? Why would they be held out extensively longer than if they have the flu?” he asked, as relayed by Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel.

Spoelstra has guided Miami to the best record in the Eastern Conference this season (50-28), leading the No. 2 seed Bucks by 1.5 games. The Heat will also be without Jimmy Butler (toe), PJ Tucker (knee), Dewayne Dedmon (ankle) and Gabe Vincent (toe) for Sunday’s game against the Raptors.

Miami most recently took a 127-109 road victory over the Bulls on Saturday. The club only has four games left on its regular-season schedule, with the playoffs set to begin in 13 days.