On Friday, the Miami Heat (11-16) come to town to face off against the Grizzlies. With them they will bring the legendary Dwayne Wade, which alone is enough to get excited about. For more on this matchup, check out the preview HERE.
How have Miami fans felt about the franchise in general post big-3 era?
If you’re looking for someone to speak on the behalf of the entirety of Heat Nation… you’ve definitely picked the wrong girl; I feel like I’m never in agreement with the majority of Miami Heat fans. So I’ll just say this: while I personally am thankful for everything that era brought the organization, I’m also fully past it. And ready to see what the future holds for the franchise. Obviously, it hasn’t been smooth sailing so far. From losing Chris Bosh to blood clots, to Dwyane Wade’s sabbatical, to missing out on so-called “whales,” the Heat have certainly taken us all on an emotional roller coaster ride. Still, to me, there’s been plenty to be excited over (Josh Richardson, first and foremost). And The Culture is something that has truly developed into something wonderful.
What’s up with Hasaan Whiteside? There seems to be some butting of heads between him and the rest of the franchise leadership. What do you think will happen with him and his contract?
The narrative surrounding Hassan Whiteside has been the biggest Heat mystery, perhaps of all time. And what’s worse is, whenever things appear as though they’re finally being cleared up, something even more strange happens. Here’s how I see it though… The big man had a lackluster 2017-18 run, which people overreacted about, because it came alongside a negative attitude; it also didn’t help that he’s a max-contract player. And now, despite already having redeemed himself on the court this season, he constantly remains under a microscope. All of which gets worse when head coach Erik Spoelstra can’t seem to fully figure out his rotations, due to being so reliant on the idea of positionless basketball, a system that someone like Whiteside doesn’t exactly belong in. So between the masses being unable to move past the 7-footer’s bad year, and Spoelstra not finding a successful role for him, the frustration is back. And unfortunately, I think that will lead to the front office trying to move him, very soon.
What are the short and long term goals for this team. Is it time for a rebuild, or is pursuing a playoff spot the target? Do you expect any moves at or near the trade deadline?
President Pat Riley would (thankfully) never tank, so a rebuild is completely out of the question. This leaves the short-term goal at making the 2019 Playoffs, and the long-term at reeling in a star player or two, to balance out the youth movement taking place with Richardson, Bam Adebayo and Justise Winslow. I could definitely see a small move or two happening a little later on this season (like maybe moving Wayne Ellington), but free agency is what the front office has a tendency to rely most on.
Do you believe that there are currently some franchise cornerstones on the roster? Or is that something that Miami will look to add?
I absolutely think that both Adebayo and Richardson are the future faces of this team. They fully embody The Culture, and have already made such incredible progress, in such a small amount of time. Richardson has totally stepped up as a leader this year, with an emphasis on being Miami’s go-to guy, while Adebayo is showcasing a lot more playmaking ability, as compared to during his rookie season. I hope that Winslow will also continue to grow into the player everyone expected him to be, when the Heat first drafted him, but he’s been a bit too inconsistent so far in his career, for me to completely bet on him just yet.
How much has Dwayne Wade meant to the Miami Heat and what does it mean to have him spend his final year with you?
He’s meant everything, and always will continue to do so, even if he never takes on another role within the organization. Wade is the reason I became a Miami Heat fan in the first place, and I’ll forever be grateful for what he’s done for the team, both on and off the court. I’m also so appreciative of his decision to have #OneLastDance in Miami; especially given how well he’s been performing this year. He’s been incredible to watch, and I even met him last month in Chicago, when the Heat faced off against the Bulls. Now that’s a moment I’ll never forget.
What are a few things that you are watching for on Friday against Memphis?
Whiteside is making his return, so I’m definitely going to keep a close eye on how things change with him back on the court. I’m also anxiously awaiting Richardson finding a way out of his shooting slump, which I think he showed signs of during Miami’s horrendous loss to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night. In terms of what the Memphis Grizzlies are bringing to the table, obviously Mike Conley is coming off a hot-hand against the Portland Trailblazers, so he’s absolutely going to need to be contained. Their defense has also been at a high-level recently, which is always something to be aware of. Overall though, it should be a fun matchup, especially given both team’s second units have been going to town lately.
Feature Image: [Getty Images]