Despite retooled roster, Heat stick to familiar approach
Tim Reynolds | The Associated Press
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Udonis Haslem took a look around the first Miami Heat team meeting of the season after their arrival in the Bahamas and was struck by a sobering realization.
He’s the last one left.
When the Heat first came to these islands for training camp three years ago, they had a roster filled with All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were the best trio in the league. The Heat were the two-time defending NBA champions and in the midst of a run where they would reach The Finals in four consecutive seasons.
They brought 20 players to that Bahamas camp in 2013.
Now back for a second time, everyone but Haslem is gone.
“When I’m not on the court, it crosses my mind,” Haslem said. “Plane rides, in the hotel room, places like that, it hits you. But when I’m on the court, it has to be business as usual.”
Such is the approach for the Heat right now: Business as usual, even amid massive change.
It’s Miami’s first camp since 2002 without Wade, who’s now with the Chicago Bulls. And the workout came a day after the Heat announced that Bosh – who has battled blood-clot problems – is not in their plans going forward. Bosh remains on the roster and will likely stay there until at least February, but the Heat do not expect him to play for them again.
There were eight players who started more than 10 games for Miami last season, and only two are left for this training camp.
“It is strange,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “But once you got on the wood and started working with this group, they got the attention that they deserve from the coaching staff. It’s about these 19 guys right now, investing in all of them and preparing for 29 days from now.”
Day 1 of camp Tuesday was just like Day 1 in 2013, with two courts set up in what usually are ballrooms at the resort the Heat will call home this week. The overwhelming majority of the first session was devoted to defense and with most of the team leaving with large icepacks strapped to various parts of their bodies.
“I kind of figured,” said new Heat guard Dion Waiters, who shed 12 pounds to get down to 222 in just a couple weeks to get ready for training camp – after getting an edict from Spoelstra to get into better shape. “It is what it is. We’re only here to get better.”
Waiters hadn’t been to the Bahamas before, but said he didn’t expect to have time to enjoy the sun and sand even in a place called Paradise Island. The climate isn’t significantly different from Miami; the Bahamas are about 185 miles southeast of South Florida, and gorgeous beachfront views aren’t hard to find in either locale.
“I left paradise and came to another paradise,” Heat center Hassan Whiteside said. “It’s not tough at all. It’s just a different paradise. But I know it’s a business trip. We’re just coming in here, grinding and looking at the beautiful water.”
Haslem gave the Heat an impassioned speech on Monday night, reminding them of his story – undrafted out of Florida, unwanted by any NBA team and how he had to physically bang on the door to get his hometown team to give him a workout try 14 years ago. He never left, joining Wade as one of the only two players to be part of all three Heat championship teams.
Wade’s departure crushed him and the news on Bosh that was delivered by Heat President Pat Riley on Monday stunned him.
“But on this floor, we’ve still got work to do,” Haslem said.
He echoed Spoelstra, who hopes this team gets as much out of this Bahamas trip as the one did in 2013.
“Our expectations with the Heat never change,” Spoelstra said. “That’s what makes us who we are. We’re stubborn in our belief about those expectations.”
NOTES: Heat F Josh McRoberts (foot, ankle) will be limited in camp but is progressing after getting hurt about five weeks ago. … G Josh Richardson (knee) has his brace off after getting hurt in a workout earlier this month, though there’s no timeframe yet for a full-fledged return to the court.