MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Two days after the NBA Finals came to an end with the San Antonio Spurs winning their fifth NBA championship, the Miami Heat returned to the American Airlines Arena to have their final meetings with the coaching staff and as a unit.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was the first person to step up to the podium and convey his thoughts and feelings about everything that had happened over the past ten months. He didn’t shy away from the pain and frustration of losing in the NBA Finals but was quick to give credit where credit was due.
“We got beat across the board by the San Antonio Spurs,” said Spoelstra. “It’s a team thing with us and you have to credit them for that.
“They played great basketball. As tough as it can be, you have to give credit where it’s due. They were able to take their game to another level. I feel they were a better team than they were last year.”
Many of the questions following the Heat’s loss in the Finals have been regarding the struggles of Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers. Wade had one of his most productive seasons in recent years after suffering through an injury riddled 2013.
Following a regular season that saw the Heat regularly resting Wade in order to keep him fresh for the playoffs, it looked as though everything was happening just right for Miami. Wade looked good throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs but hit a wall in the NBA Finals.
While Wade has been the focal point of much scrutiny following his Finals performance, Spoelstra was quick to defend his player.
“I’ll go to bat in that foxhole with Dwyane any day,” said Spoelstra. “It’s funny how the narrative changes within a matter of days. Keep it in perspective. Ten days ago people were saying Dwyane was playing at the highest level he’s played at in the last 3 years.”
When asked about Chalmers, Spoelstra tried to keep the focus on the big picture and look beyond the difficult past few weeks but didn’t exactly come to his defense the way he did with Wade.
“I’m not analyzing that right now,” said Spoelstra when asked about Chalmers’ performance in the Finals. “There can be wild exaggerations because you’re talking about a player that for us has been a starter on two championship level teams. The narrative and storyline can change in the matter of a couple weeks and unfortunately the season ended where you don’t have a chance to change that narrative outside with another game or another series.”
Chalmers will be a free agent this summer and its unknown whether the Heat will offer him a contract to return to Miami or if they’ll explore other options. With so many questions regarding what the Big Three will do it’s impossible to gauge what could happen to the Heat’s roster.
Will LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Wade opt out of their contracts? If so, will they sign new ones for less money in order to lure free agents to join them on the Heat? Whatever happens, Spoelstra is confident that Miami will remain a top team in this league.
“We’ll put together our team and do whatever’s necessary,” said Spoelstra. “We feel we have a lot to offer here as a first class championship organization that’s proven itself. Our players know what we’re about and they know about the Heat family, that we’ve been together through everything.
“It’s far too early to predict what our program will be like next year. You have to make [due] with whatever happens each season. Each season is a different challenge.”