2019-20 is here: Miami Heat

  
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WHAT THEY TRIED IN 2018-19

Make the playoffs, picture Dwyane Wade performing to a primetime audience one final time. Basic cable.

WHAT HAPPENED IN 2018-19

39-43, ninth in the Eastern Conference

Wade (15 points per game in 26 minutes a Miami Nite, two starts) came to ball. The 37-year old propped up the Heat in dynamic ways that rang well beyond his occasional last-second theatrics.

The rest of the club wasn’t up for much: Goran Dragic sat 50 games, Dion Waiters 38, and fancy-passing Justise Winslow missed two weeks in March with Miami clawing for its playoff life — listen, zone defense is hard. The whole gang returned in time for a 1-5 record in April, denying Wade his last hopes for a postseason show-off.

Gabrielle Union is hilarious. She could have lived on TNT for a week and a half, but instead we got Orlando. Instead we got Detroit.

OFFSEASON INS AND OUTS

Here: Jimmy Butler (sign-and-trade, four years and $140.8 million), Meyers Leonard (trade, Portland), KZ Okpala (No. 32 pick in 2019 NBA draft, trade with Phoenix), Tyler Herro (No. 13 pick), Udonis Haslem is back.

Gone: Dwyane Wade (NBA retirement), Hassan Whiteside (dealt to Portland), Josh Richardson (dealt to Philadelphia), Ryan Anderson (waived).

PLAN FOR 2019-20

Wreck some playoffs. Wreck the opponents’ sleeping habits.

Charged with heading Miami’s gnarly defense, Goran Dragic faded a bit last season offensively, we didn’t get our usual Goran around the rim or midrange. The 33-year old will have far, far less to do this season with Butler dominating damn-near everything, sparks are everywhere, this thing never stops moving.

Waiters, Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard appear to be in their primes, Winslow isn’t far off, and last season’s No. 6 defense should earn a shot in the arm without Wade dragging its dimensions down.

FREAK FOR 2019-20

The Heat unfurled the league’s fifth-worst offense last season, mostly due to its indulgent insistence on curating an unworkable, yet finely-tuned mix of two-point jumpers. If this sustains, the Heat will have to work one and a half times the average bear and, shit, this is something that Pat Riley would say.

Additionally, Butler wasn’t due for Thibodeau Time taking hold for another few years yet the breakdown watch begins now — especially if the Heat keep up this 3 AM business.

These Heat might be outclassed by the top half of the East, but you get the feeling Miami doesn’t mind its defects. This is a group of guys who can perform well while feeling put-upon, no matter how genuine the scrutiny.

COME ON LOOK AT

You’d think we’d have some fun here, that we could see a spark in the first season, but remember this is Miami: Brent Barry couldn’t get minutes with Pat Riley, and not the ancient Brent, nah, he was 27. Suitable Brent Barry.

If Herro realizes he can keep his dribble in this league, he’ll be dope as hell and right away.

This point of observation only counts if Tyler’s able to keep his dribble in this league right away.

MAYBE LINEUP

F/C: Kelly Olynyk — perhaps the flick up to ostensible center will perk him up, shot only 35 percent from deep last season. Already 28 so it’s time to have some sort of year.

C/F: Bam Adebayo — excitable (8.9 points and 7.3 boards in 22 minutes), dependable, won’t hurt you at the line (73 percent career) and only just turned 22. If we still did things the wrong way, this would be Bam’s fourth season at Kentucky.

F: Justise Winslow — hasn’t broken out, may never make an All-Star team yet I’m wholly enthused about his next 10 years of NBA basketball. Less forward to the years after that.

SG: Jimmy Butler — just turned 30, but somehow retains the puerile quirks of someone much younger. Will be a monster at basketball this season.

PG: Goran Dragic — wasn’t sloppy or selfish last round, just wasn’t nearly as potent. Play off the ball will be crucial.

THERE WILL BE A BENCH

F: Kyle Alexander — shot-blocking big spent four years at Tennessee, performed ably at Summer League.

G: Tyler Herro — this team badly needs someone beyond Dion to not think before shooting a three-pointer.

PF/C: Udonis Haslem — only worked 74 minutes last season and 72 the year before after 499 career starts and years in the Heat rotation. If long acrimony between Haslem and coach Erik Spoelstra exists then each party would be smart to air respective grievances.

At this point I don’t know what either side is getting out of this relationship. If Haslem feels as if he has NBA basketball left to play then he should do it with a franchise that feels the same.

G/F: Derrick Jones Jr. — Miami lost this guy for a month midseason and fell a half-dozen games in the standings. It’s true Jones can dunk but did you also know he can cram?

F: James Johnson — if he wants to roll in like Joe Ingles or one of the Morris brothers, well, James is on the wrong team for that. Johnson can really play and I hope he’s back in the rotation soon.

SG: Dion Waiters — was only healthy for maybe half of his 44 games last year, a determined Waiters (a dozen points on 41 percent shooting in 25 minutes) sure as hell gutted one out. He still isn’t good.

C: Meyers Leonard — won’t hurt you on the glass nearly as much as he will defensively. Is good, 45 percent on threes the last two years and the Heat need to find space for him.

PG: Jeremiah Martin — scored nearly twenty a game as a senior at Memphis last season, over two steals per game. Went undrafted before signing an Exhibit 10 deal with Miami over the summer.

Rob Schneider’s nickname character on SNL, the one in the room with the copy machines, this was a funny character.

“The Richmeister.”

G: Kendrick Nunn — lefty averaged 19.3 points per game off the bench of the Santa Cruz Warriors last season.

The tagline makin’ copies is repetitive and silly and each of Schneider’s movie-starring efforts are trash, his opinions are odious, but those sketches were fuckin’ hilarious.

The Sting one, the one where they put the copy room in the Koresh compound, also the one where he bugged his co-workers while each attempted to create and print a photocopy. All great.

SG: Davon Reed — former Miami Hurricane star averaged 14 a game in the minors last year on 40 percent shooting.

The only thing Donald Trump has ever truly laughed at was the Rob Schneider sketch about nicknames and makin’ copies, I fully believe this, still doesn’t mean “Richmeister” wasn’t a funny sketch.

F: KZ Okpala — athletic ex-Stanford scorer missed Summer League as the Heat shuffled its free agent promises around. Taken high in the second round, the 20-year old is not what we’d call “a passer.”

G/F: Duncan Robinson — averaged 21 a game and nearly hit half his threes at Sioux Falls last season. Stunk in 15 games with the the big club last year.

F: Chris Silva — from Gabon, worked three years at South Carolina yet went undrafted last June. Went to Udonis Haslem’s high school.

Imagine the re-introduction of the White House Correspondents' Dinner: Donald Trump convulsing in laughing fits as Rob Schneider just hands out nicknames for 44 minutes.

PROJECTED RECORD

46-36, third in the East.

LET’S WATCH THIS

The Heat did not hire someone to sing the Star-Spangled Banner for this game. They chose a different song.

After the Heat start laughing on the bench, the producer shifts to a shot of my favorite kind of mascot pose: the Solemn Mascot.

This particular singer now performs in character as Sir Elton John.

PREVIOUSLYTorontoIndianaWashingtonAtlantaCharlotteChicagoMilwaukeeClevelandPhiladelphiaOrlandoBostonNew York, Brooklyn, San Antonio.

NEXT: DETROIT.

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