The Miami Heat now resume their regularly scheduled programming, already in progress.
Because the NBA waits for no champion, even one two years in the making.
To appreciate what is next is to appreciate that the NBA Draft is Thursday, the start of free agency is Sunday and that the following weekend the Heat will open a weeklong summer camp at AmericanAirlines Arena for draft choices, undrafted prospects, journeymen free agents and young players already in team’s pipeline.
So as the players revel, chatting with Kelly, Letterman, Oprah and the ladies of “The View,” Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and their staffs have sent out the dry cleaning and found themselves back at the business of basketball.
Photos: Check out pictures from the Miami Heat NBA championship parade
“We’re in a different situation than the players and our staff understands that right now,” Spoelstra said.
Because in less than a month it will be back on the road, this time to Las Vegas, for the NBA’s annual proving grounds that is summer league.
“This is an important week, and then everything leading up to the summer league and then all the way through the summer league will be important,” Spoelstra said. “We’re not in a rush to celebrate right now. And free agency’s coming up.
“We have some important weeks ahead of us. I need to catch up with the draft, but also our plans for summer league and for free agency.”
Because while the Heat completed a championship run, the run did not necessarily come with the most complete of rosters.
Foremost will be getting young players such as Norris Cole, Terrel Harris and Dexter Pittman in the team’s developmental program, each finding his 2011-12 growth somewhat stunted by the lack of a offseason program last summer due to the NBA lockout.
There also will be consideration given to exactly how many roster spots will be available for next season.
Juwan Howard and Eddy Curry figure to be replaced by more forward-thinking options. James Jones and Mike Miller, who spent Tuesday with renowned specialist Dr. Barth Green due to his back concerns, have mentioned retirement, although Jones was quick to back off such talk in the wake of Monday’s championship celebration. There also is a team option (Pittman) and a player option (Ronny Turiaf) that have to be decided by Saturday.
That could leave the Heat with six or more roster vacancies for 2012-13, which will make Sunday’s start of free agency even more complex, considering the Heat currently only have a $ 3 million tax-payer mid-level exception available, with minimum-scale salaries otherwise only available to fill out the roster. That dynamic could change if Miller is deemed out for 2012-13 due to his back issues, which would open a $ 2.9 million salary slot for a one-year replacement contract.
What that means is that the draft not only is essential for adding value with the No. 27 pick the team currently holds, but potentially could lead to adding other cheap labor through draft-night trades, with the Heat lacking a second-round selection Thursday due to a January 2010 trade with the Nets.
All of which is why Spoelstra finds himself in somewhat of a vortex just as frenzied as the one he has just exited.
Because of the rapid turnaround, many of the traditional exit interviews have been put on hold.
“For the veteran players, I’ll see them,” he said. “I’ll see everybody at some point during the summer. Either they’ll be around here and I’ll see ‘em, or I’ll fly to see ‘em. Everybody will have an opportunity to get away. I’ll be the voice of reason, in a handful of weeks, and make sure we reel it back and not let the celebration to go too long.
“The young players, those are my priority right now, to make sure we get organized for summer league and really utilize those two or three weeks. Those can be really important.”
Just days after finishing ahead of the pack, Spoelstra feels as if he again is in chase mode.
“I walked in and looked at the board and realized how far behind I am, all the different names,” he said of the master panel in the team’s AmericanAirlines Arena offices that charts league player movement. “I didn’t even know the list of all the free agents, unrestricted, our situation, draft, everything. I have a lot to catch up on.”
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