Trust The Process: Miami Finds A New Identity To Unlock The Winner Within

Commentary

So let’s keep it very real off the top here. This feeling sucks.

I had Twitter notifications turned on for Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical because it’s #WojBomb 💣 season. Every time my phone alerted me to a new tweet, I checked it while holding my dear breath. I knew Dwyane Wade was likely gone, all indications suggested as much. I even was—excuse me—am, of the belief that a divorce between the HEAT and Wade was a matter of when, not if. It was best for both parties.

Since LeBron James and Wade’s infamous flight back to Miami from Las Vegas in 2014, I’ve felt like we’ve come a long way from the back and forth screaming, late night drunkenness of the past. But even as prepared as I felt I was for this reality, the moment I received Woj’s tweet notification on Wednesday night at 8:24 p.m., I instantly felt sadness.

This isn’t going to be about that sadness. I haven’t been neurotically following this organization’s every single move for the last 26 years to just become despondent and hopeless. You can miss me with those vibes.

I will caution that it’s likely going to get worse before it gets better, with the Chris Bosh situation looming and a breakup that’s more likely than unlikely to happen, in my opinion. But that’s another column for another day.

This is the where we pick ourselves up off the floor, wash our faces and stand up straight. This is where you remember who and what this organization represents.

Feel good that you can bank on the HEAT to not spend a decade of lean years to rebuild this team back up to a contender. It’s highly unlikely this organization is going to become the perennial ninth seed franchise. Pat Riley built a contender by 1997, then in 2001 tore it down, and by 2005 was back on top of the Eastern Conference. That lasted until about 2007 and was torn down, only to see it built stronger than ever in 2010. We all know how the story goes, so I won’t waste any words on breaking that era down.

But the point is, if history tells us anything, we aren’t in for the epic collapse that all the doom and gloom specialists are lamenting over on social media and sports talk radio right now.

You have an eye towards the ripe 2017 NBA free agent class, and the ability to enter that class armed with large enough harpoons (dollars) to legitimately go whale hunting. You have Riley and Micky Arison, two men who proved on July 6 that they are united in looking out for the best interest of the organization at any cost, ready to make the pitch.

By then, who knows, you may even have a couple players working with the organization to lure a whale, not playing defense against them every summer.

You have a pillar of strength and consistency, Riley’s disciple Erik Spoelstra, who’s displayed an adept ability to adapt as the roster, or style of play, changes and the challenges continue to emerge. Something is going to happen here very soon folks, and it involves the keys to the kingdom (from a basketball standpoint) being handed over to Coach Spo. Matter of fact, a large part of it already has.

Where we now talk about how much we want Riley to “get in a room” with the Durants of the world, we may one day talk about our loudest voices saying “just get me in a gym” with good players—making them great. I would suspect that more and more, we will see the HEAT’s best years going forward built through a more evenly, distributed mix of developed players and deluxe free agents.

You already have a young core of players with high upside, players who have bought in to “the HEAT way” and have plenty of room to grow. Just in case their names escape you, I am referring to Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Briante Weber, Rodney McGruder and possibly Tyler Johnson. Probably a couple others not signed yet, too.

These players may develop into great players, most likely just good ones. Nonetheless, they will be a nice collection of complimentary players or a mixture of assets to use in a blockbuster trade. The focus on developing players in the D-League is not a philosophy that’s going away anytime soon for Miami. They are vested in that process, now more than ever.

You have a player in Hassan Whiteside, with an elite enough set of skills to make a whale want to swim next to him near Biscayne Bay. You have the coaching staff in place to help him continue to ascend.

You have Goran Dragic, who has the chance to regain his Phoenix Suns form next season with an increased usage rate, which may result in him becoming an even more attractive trade chip, or a prime piece to put next to a whale.

You have your 2017 first round draft pick, which as we have seen when we drafted Wade, can be a lottery ticket in itself. At the very least, it is another asset to improve the team.

Nothing I say in this column is going to make the Wade departure, or the impending Bosh situation feel any better. It won’t make those things go away. I also am not naive enough to say that everything is unicorns and rainbows. Nothing is guaranteed to go Miami’s way in the future, but I do have reason enough to believe it will.

Take it from someone who has been through all of these resets in Miami under Riley, this will be done the right away, in a timely fashion, in a manner that has a chance to realize the highest form of success.

Trust the process, because unlike with some other organizations that coin the phrase or hearken back to it as they rebuild, our process isn’t going to include decades of irrelevance. The suffering is only temporary. The prize? Well worth the wait to relish.

Hang in there, HEAT fans. The best of times will be back before you know it.

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