Wayne Ellington has had, as he put it, “a hell of a journey” in the NBA.
When he signed with the Miami Heat this offseason, it became his seventh NBA home in eight years. He’s been around the block and then some, but he claims he’s ready to settle down and find a home.
“Hopefully, find my niche somewhere with a team that wants to give me a home,” Ellington said to the Ethan Skolnick Show on 790 The Ticket.
That home he’s talking about could be in Miami if he proves to the coaching staff that his abilities as a shooting guard are worth keeping long-term. He is currently signed to a two-year, $12 million contract. Ellington’s role will primarily be as a three-point specialist and he seems confident he’ll be ready to make those shots this season.
“Shooting is at a premium in our league. That’s what’s going to separate me from the other guys. Being able to knock that jumper down consistently,” acknowledged Ellington.
Those other guys he mentioned are the rest of the crowded Heat backcourt that he will have to compete with for playing time. There will be some tough competition to see who fills the starting and rotation roles, but the former University of North Carolina Tar Heel knows his teammates are ready for the challenge.
“We’re all professionals. We understand the situation,” said Ellington. “As long as everybody buys into what coach (Erik) Spoelstra wants, what we’re gonna be about this year, we all got the same goal at the end of the day, we can get it together man.”
There is definitely something to prove for the new group of journeymen on the Heat. Ellington believes they will be especially motivated this season to prove themselves after Dwyane Wade’s unexpected departure.
“Can’t replace D-Wade. That’s not what we’re trying to do. That’s not possible. But we can bring the best of our game out and I feel like the fans will definitely be happy about what they get.
“Along with my teammates, we’re looking forward to making a huge impact, surprising some people. A lot of people are counting us out. A lot of guys have a chip on their shoulder,” he said.
The chemistry between Ellington and his teammates will be crucial next year and he already has some past connections with some of the new Heat signees. Growing up in Philadelphia he had “a really good relationship” with fellow native Dion Waiters, and their paths crossed when they played together for half of a season in Cleveland. He played against Josh McRoberts in college and was drafted just 12 picks after James Johnson in 2009.
But there is no question, even with all the newcomers, that the focus of every team will be on stopping Hassan Whiteside next year. Ellington told the Big O Show on 560’s WQAM that he thinks the addition of shooters, like himself, can help Whiteside flourish.
“I think he can definitely do it. He’s going to get a lot of attention now. So I feel like having shooters around him, like we talked about earlier, is going to definitely benefit. He’s going to benefit from that. Playing the inside-out and making sure we are going to be available to knock down shots for him when the defenses are collapsing on him cause they definitely going to,” he said. “He’s going to get a lot of attention so we gotta be ready to help him out.”
The success of next season will mostly depend on the health of Chris Bosh, but if the rest of the Heat players are as motivated as Ellington, the Heat could turn some heads with their surprising play.