Miami Heat Hope Deep Roster Means They'll Contend in Eastern Conference

The season is looming and Miami coach Erik Spoelstra still doesn't know which lineup will start games, or more importantly which grouping will be out there to finish off close games.

These sound like big problems.

Turns out, Spoelstra sees these as good things. The rotation decisions that he and his staff will have to make won't be easy, which is a testament to Miami's depth. And that depth — with virtually every key contributor from last year back — is why the Heat believe they not only should return to the playoffs but also contend in the Eastern Conference.

"That's part of the strength of the roster, there's a lot of guys with multi-skillsets and versatility," Spoelstra said. "We want to explore all of them ... there's a lot of directions where this could go."

Some of the starter picks are easy: Goran Dragic will be the point guard, Dion Waiters is the shooting guard and Hassan Whiteside is the center. Everything else is guesswork — James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Rodney McGruder, Justise Winslow, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington, Okaro White and rookie Bam Adebayo all figure to somehow be in the rotation.

But that's 12 guys, and there's no way the Heat will regularly have a 12-man rotation. Hence, the good problem and tough decisions that await Spoelstra.

"We have so many weapons. You can go so many ways," Richardson said. "Spo is doing a great job of just putting us in different positions and giving guys different opportunities. It's hard to ask for a better coach than that."

Miami had a most peculiar season a year ago: 11-30 in the first half, 30-11 in the second half. The Heat took a shot over the summer at landing Gordon Hayward and when he picked Boston the focus in Miami then went to keeping its core from last season together.

After committing $112 million over the next four seasons to Waiters and James Johnson, tossing in another $50 million to land Olynyk and then signing Richardson to a $42 million extension that kicks in next season, it's easy to see that Miami likes this group.

"The sky's the limit," Heat President Pat Riley said. "You have to go for it."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us