Heat’s Erik Spoelstra hopeful of roster remaining together, but appreciates the business side – The Mercury News

The last time the Miami Heat reached these heights, the business of basketball got in the way.

So Jae Crowder was sacrificed in the name of potential salary-cap space.

Eventually, Derrick Jones Jr., Kelly Olynyk and others from that roster that advanced to the 2020 NBA Finals were gone.

Tuesday, two days after his team was eliminated by the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra spoke of continuity, while also appreciating potential overriding concerns of Heat president Pat Riley, the front office and owner Micky Arison.

“It is a Pat thing,” Spoelstra said. “But look at the history of how we’ve done things since Pat and Micky have created this culture. Anytime we’re close and have banged on the door, even if it ended in a disappointing loss, our history has shown that we usually bring the majority of the group back, the core back, and we take another shot at it.”

Had a Jimmy Butler 3-point attempt dropped in the final seconds Sunday, Spoelstra instead would have been in flight Tuesday to San Francisco for the start of the NBA Finals against the Warriors.

Instead, he was being asked about what might come next.

“Of course, you’re talking 48 [hours after elimination] and after we had an opportunity on a make or a miss to possibly, potentially get to the next round,” he said with a smile. “Yeah, you want to have a chance to do it again with the same group.”

But there also are ample issues for Riley and the front office to address:

– Caleb Martin, Dewayne Dedmon and Victor Oladipo, who all held rotation roles during various segments of the season, are impending free agents;

– Veterans Markieff Morris and Udonis Haslem also are free agents;

– Starting power forward PJ Tucker has the opportunity to opt into free agency;

– Sixth man Tyler Herro said Tuesday he would like to move into a starting role, also eligible for an extension this offseason;

– Guard Duncan Robinson, having fallen out of the rotation, could wind up as a trade chip in a bid for salary-cap relief.

“I love this group. I love the locker room,” Spoelstra said. “And I’m just really grateful that we had an opportunity to collaborate and work together and experience everything this season.”

Spoelstra said the chemistry of the roster was on point.

“It’s been crazy all around the world and dealing with everything we’ve been dealing with,” he said of yet another season impacted by COVID, plus the NBA aspect of late-season injuries. “But for us to be able to do what we do and in this together, with a bunch of like minded people in terms of how we view competition, it doesn’t get much better than that.

“I’m really grateful for this year and this season. It made me better. And I really enjoyed it. I filled out a lot of my journal entries in a positive way from these experiences.”

All while appreciating the playoffs move forward in the absence of his team.

“I feel like I still need some time to decompress,” he said. “You want to be able to be objective about all of it. And the first, most important part about it is you come together to try to do something special, you are all here in that locker room to produce a result. And it’s a bottom-line business. We did not accomplish the goal that we set out for ourselves.

“However, with all that said, you also want to create memories. You want to have an enjoyable experience through an arduous, challenging, seven- or eight-month season. You don’t want to just go through a season and only focus on the bottom line.”

He summed it up as “a really gratifying and memorable season. I really enjoyed connecting with the guys in the locker room.”

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