Erik Spoelstra remains confident in the outlook for the Miami Heat this season, with the head coach highlighting their returning players and offseason additions without lamenting the fact that the team has not yet executed a trade for Damian Lillard.
“We have most of our work done. We’re bringing back the majority of our players & that’s a luxury in this league. We feel great about our group. We made some nice additions. J-Rich, Thomas Bryant & Jaquez. Tyler’s healthy. Jimmy & Bam. That’s a great core. So we’re excited” – Spo pic.twitter.com/xJtIeJMcPK
— Dru (@dru_star) August 18, 2023
It would be easy for fans and other NBA observers to hold a negative view of what the Heat have accomplished this offseason, especially when it has been clear that their main goal is to add Lillard after the All-Star guard requested a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers with Miami believed to be his preferred destination.
Spoelstra instead is talking up the offseason additions of free agents Josh Richardson and Thomas Bryant as well as draft pick Jaime Jaquez Jr. He also made sure to mention the return to health of Tyler Herro.
The coach spoke highly of Jaquez, who was the No. 18 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, saying the 22-year-old has the potential to be an immediate contributor based on his relatively older age for a draft pick and extensive college experience coming out of the University of California, Los Angeles.
The Heat will not have three of their top eight scorers from last season with Gabe Vincent (free agent departure), Max Strus (sign-and-trade) and Victor Oladipo (trade) now elsewhere, but players Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson are set to return.
Herro also looks ready to roll after recovering from a hand injury suffered in the first game of the playoffs last season. He was Miami’s third-leading scorer during the regular season behind Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo and is thought to be a major part of trade talks with the Trail Blazers for Lillard.
But those discussions seem to be going nowhere, with the latest reports saying the Trail Blazers have “no interest” in making a deal with the Heat for Lillard despite almost two months of speculation about a trade.
The Heat seemingly need to add someone to help an offense that ranked last in the league in points per game last season. Regarding the playoffs, one former NBA executive recently suggested that Adebayo isn’t qualified to be a “championship-level second option.”
But it is Spoelstra’s job to focus on the players he has, something he has done successfully throughout his 15 prior seasons as head coach, including recent trips to the NBA Finals in 2020 and 2023.
If he indeed believes that the Heat have done enough this offseason even without adding Lillard, fans may be able to look forward to yet another successful campaign.