Riley, 72, was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2008. Spoelstra has coached the Heat to two titles and four trips to the Finals, all in the Big Three era of Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. He already holds the franchise record with 70 postseason wins. “It’s a hell of an accomplishment,” Haslem said. “I mean, you’re talking about Pat, a Hall of Fame guy. You get mentioned in that conversation or surpass him or break that record, it’s a tribute to Spo and how he’s grown and the work he’s put into it and the product the organization has put out there on the floor.”
Whiteside is in the second year of a four-year, $98 million deal and he certainly is not untouchable. But will the Heat actively shop their defensive anchor? That question should be easier to answer as we get closer to the Feb. 8 trade deadline and beyond. As long as the Heat stay in the hunt, Pat Riley will not weaken the team. Making the playoffs is important to Riley and the players. But Riley never stops exploring ways to get better and if Adebayo continues to improve and the Heat believe he and Kelly Olynyk can anchor the middle, than, yes, Whiteside becomes a bit more expendable. But a lot has to happen if the Heat decided to deal Whiteside. First, a team must be willing to take on the remainder of his contract and secondly, that team must have a star that Riley would require if his is trading one of his building blocks.
Storyline: Hassan Whiteside Trade?
Despite being nomadic through the first eight years of his career, Johnson never doubted his talent nor the hope that he’d find the right organizational fit. “No, I never doubted myself,” Johnson told Basketball Insiders. “I never doubted the Lord neither. I’m a big firm believer of that. Every team I was on I always enjoyed my teammate’s success. I always was a real part of practice players and being a scout guy. My whole journey is just to figure out and experience all the other aspects of this game that we play. It says a lot where I can start helping other guys out like the rookies now and guys that are not getting any minutes right now, things like that. I’m a big testament to just staying ready, so you don’t have to get ready.”
Looking ahead, can Johnson continue to improve at age 30 and beyond coming off his best year as a pro? “I got paid, so there’s no pressure of playing for the money,” Johnson told Basketball Insiders. “It’s really playing for the wins, playing for your teammates, and playing with a pure heart, not going out there with any agendas, not going out there looking to live up to something that everybody else wants you to live up to. For me, it’s just gelling with our team and making sure our locker room is great like I was mentioning. Go out there and compete and trust each other.”
But it was hard to really believe him. “We’re coaching for something bigger right now with our team, but certainly I still feel for Fiz and unfortunately what he had to go through here,” said Spoelstra of Fizdale, who spent eight years as an assistant under him. “I had lunch with him this afternoon. That’s my brother. “You want him to have a fair shot at it and to be able to go through some tough times, some adverse times, through a transition period that the organization was going through. And that’s what the thought was – that there would be a transition and an opportunity to build a different culture. Unfortunately he wasn’t given that opportunity.”
“Fiz is a star,” Spoelstra, 47, said. “So he’s going to get another opportunity in any field. He can go in this guy’s field [pointing to Heat TV sideline reporter Jason Jackson]. He can go in my field. He can choose where he wants to go. Hopefully he spends some time in Miami with us in the spring in-between his pina coladas and beach time and all that.”
Storyline: David Fizdale Firing