As for Jimmy Butler potentially playing the power forward this season, the Miami Heat point guard said Monday that his team had better start considering plan B.
With power forward PJ Tucker leaving in free agency for the Philadelphia 76ers and the Heat not signing an outside replacement, Butler was asked during the team’s media day at FTX Arena if he would be ready to play this season in a role of power.
“If they absolutely wanted to have a conversation,” Butler said of giving in to at least listen. “But I’m not going to play all four.”
Other Heat options at the forefront include Caleb Martin, Haywood Highsmith, Max Strus or one of the team’s center types, such as Dewayne Dedmon or Omer Yurtseven, although coach Erik Spoelstra rarely favors large formations.
“I could play all four, yes, if they absolutely needed me to play all four, yes,” Butler said.
Of Tucker’s departure, Butler said with a smile, “PJ is a traitor. I tell him every day.
Butler, 33, said the Heat would find a way to make it work without the veteran forward.
“There are going to be changes,” he said. “Everyone realizes that the roles are going to change. There are going to be a lot of changes that have nothing to do with me. As training camp approaches, it will be exciting to see what this roster is all about.
Butler also played down the off-season practice video showing him spending a lot of time working on his 3-point game. He stressed that his goal remains to get into the paint and reach the foul line.
“Spot me however you want,” he said. “I’m still going to find a way to get into painting.”
From his off-season move to a longer coif, Butler tried to insist he didn’t add any extensions. But he also said he wasn’t sure if he would continue with the look during the regular season.
“I’m just playing around with stuff to drive the internet crazy,” he said of the long tresses he continued to sport on Monday.
After Butler in the interview room, center Bam Adebayo played down the Heat facing a power deficit without Tucker.
“We always find a way,” he said. “It’s the Miami Heat way.”
For his part, he said he plans to take a more proactive approach to the offense.
“Yeah,” he said with a broad smile. “We are much better when I score.”
Heat president Pat Riley spoke at the end of last season of Adebayo making at least 15 shots per game.
Adebayo’s response, “18, trying to make it this year.”
“You heard,” Adebayo added of Riley, “what the old man said about me.
“It’s important for me to come back better.”
The ongoing goal, however, he said, is to emerge with the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
“I mean, at this point, it’s politics,” he said of the annual media vote that has gone to Rudy Gobert and Marcus Smart for the past two years.
After stating at the end of last season that he wanted to emerge as a starter, and with Riley saying shortly after that such a role had to be earned, Tyler Herro softened the stance somewhat on Monday.
“I’m a team player,” he said, “everything Spo and the organization want me to do.”
Herro, aware of the importance of a well-balanced rotation, said he would accept “the role that suits me best”.
Eligible for an extension until the start of the regular season, Herro deferred those discussions to his agent.
“My focus this season is on basketball,” he said.
But trust remains firmly in place.
“My offensive skills are among the best in the league,” he said.
With room, he said, for growth, “to become more of a guy who grabs and pulls and attacks the hold.”