Even before the current work at hand, which is the ongoing work of resetting the team’s roster, Miami Heat President Pat Riley for years has demonstrated the art of setting the offseason agenda.
Part of that effort this time around, in the wake of his team falling one game short of the NBA Finals, was stressing a need to return hungrier.
So no sooner had guard Tyler Herro done what numerous quality sixth men had done before, in exiting the season by stressing a goal to emerge as a starter, then Riley last month calculatedly offered, “If he wants to start, go earn it.”
Riley also said, “As far as being a starter, we will see in October. Come to training camp and win it. It’s something you earn. Sometimes it’s that easy.”
Only amid social media, it’s never that easy.
So that had Herro, as he arrived to watch the Heat at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League, well aware of what was to follow. And it did, at the NBA 2K House of Greatness launch event.
Asked as he walked the event’s red carpet about his goals going forward, Herro said, “Trying to be a starter in this league and then be an All-Star one day. So that’s the next step.”
To that end, the 2022 NBA Sixth Man of the Year did not relent, including when he was asked about possibly starting alongside Jimmy Butler, something he did only three times last season, with the Heat 1-2 in those games.
“I think it will look great,” he said. “See what happens, see what happens in training camp.”
But no, no hard feelings with Riley taking the hard line of Herro earning his way into the starting lineup.
“He continues to give me advice,” he said of Riley. “Every time I talk to him, he always gives me a new book to read.”
Herro then took in the Heat’s Vegas-opening victory Saturday, seated alongside teammates Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, as well as coach Erik Spoelstra, directly across from the Heat bench.
Adding further intrigue to Herro’s offseason is the current negotiation window for an extension, a window that closes with the regular-season opener. Should Herro be signed to such an extension, it essentially would make him untradeable this season, due to salary-cap rules.
For now, Herro said during his promotional appearance that the approach remains basic.
“Ready to continue to play hard,” he said, “and continue to put up numbers and win games.”
Amid the Heat’s two-day break before a return to the court Tuesday for a 7 p.m. Eastern game against the Atlanta Hawks’ summer roster (NBA TV), summer-league coach Malik Allen cautioned not to overstate the uneven play of first-round pick Nikola Jovic.
The 6-foot-11 19-year-old was scoreless in the Heat’s 88-78 victory Saturday over the Boston Celtics, missing his lone shot.
That came in the wake of Jovic scoring 25 in his previous summer-league outing.
“It’s an adjustment for him. And we’ll find more ways to get him involved,” Allen said, with the Heat casting Jovic more in an interior role, after the lithe prospect played mostly on the perimeter in Europe. “He’ll get there. He’ll get there. It’s going to be a process with him. It’s not going to come right away. He has to be steady.
“I know what it’s going to look like in terms of his development and how it’s going to keep evolving, because he will, because he’s got so much skill and potential.”
Just as Haywood Highsmith said his goal going forward was to offer the intangibles provided last season by since-departed power forward P.J. Tucker, summer-league teammate Mychal Mulder cited the similarities after Highsmith went for 14 points and six rebounds in Saturday’s victory.
“H makes it go, man,” Mulder said. “He’s got all the intangibles. He reminds of Tuck, like we had last year, playing that role. And he really embraces that. You know what I mean? He sets good screens. He gets under the defense. He plays defense with an aggression almost unlike anybody else on the court.
“There’s a lot of things that he does that they don’t show up on the stat sheet, but they really lead to wins, winning basketball.”