Is Miami Heat’s Erik Spoelstra Doing His Best Work? – Sun Sentinel

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Dec 24, 2021 at 6:05 AM

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Q: I do enjoy watching Jimmy Butler play, but it’s also been a blast watching Erik Spoelstra and coaching staff do something with players nobody had ever heard of. My hat is off to them all for buying the time the star players need for healing. — Bump.

A: Look, there are times I take issue with this notion of Heat Culture, and, when necessary, prefer to refer to it as Heat culture, with a lowercase C. Because it’s not as if other teams don’t also stress professionalism. At times, it’s almost condescending toward other franchises. But, that said, there is a deep, well . . . cultural, commitment toward being ready for such moments, that every player on the roster is required to meet certain standards, and that every player on the roster essentially is treated as a developmental player. So, yes, at times such as these, it leaves the Heat well positioned for whatever might come next, the old, “be ready so you don’t have to get ready.” And I do believe that Erik Spoelstra relishes such challenges of making chicken soup out of chicken feathers. To this point, it has proven to be a savory mix. And credit, therefore, should go to the (OK, I concede) Heat Culture. (Even if the Heat did it the hard way Thursday night against the Pistons.)

Q: Since the Heat only have fourteen players under NBA contracts, could Zylan Cheatham remain with the team for the duration of his 10-day contract even if Caleb Martin comes back sooner than that? I am surprised that Martin is still out. His required time under the health protocols should be about over. — Norm, Dupont, Wash.

A: There also are addition rounds of testing and protocols for those who were symptomatic, which apparently was the case with Caleb Martin, who was in attendance Thursday, meaning he no longer is carrying a contagious virus. The only way Zylan Cheatham would be able to stay on his emergency 10-day contract after Martin returns would be if another Heat player enters protocols. He, or any other player, of course, could be signed into the void that is the open 15th spot on the Heat’s standard roster. But the Heat seemingly have gone too far down the road of attempting to avoid the luxury tax to change course now. And, no, Cheatham cannot be retained as a replacement if Dewayne Dedmon misses time. That is a different type of emergency contract, one that does count against the cap.

Q: Tuesday night’s NBA games were worse than preseason quality basketball. I’m talking turn-off-League-Pass awful. And we watch pretty much every NBA game all year. — Lynne.

A: My counter to that would be: Would you rather have what we had in March 2020, when the NBA shut down and then every other league followed? Yes, G League players on the NBA level might not what you signed up for with League Pass, but I’m of the thought that some basketball is still better than no basketball. And the reality is the players being brought up from the G League are at a higher level than the college games you otherwise might turn to. Yes, college basketball has built-in home-team enthusiasm But the Lakeland Magic still offer higher-caliber roster quality. Besides, how could you call Thursday’s Heat-Pistons anything but compelling (even if the rosters and quality was a bit off)?