BOCA RATON — Here are three takeaways from Day 1 of Miami Heat training camp at FAU.
1. Kyle Lowry wants to start
After accepting a move to the bench for the Heat’s stretch run to the 2023 Finals, Kyle Lowry is pushing for a return to the starting lineup this season.
“I don’t expect to come off the bench,” Lowry said. “I’ll do whatever it takes for my team to win basketball games, but I expect to be the starting point guard.”
Lowry, who has started 801 of 841 games since becoming a full-time starter for the Houston Rockets in 2010, gracefully accepted a role off the bench after missing a month with a knee injury last season. Lowry continued to back up Gabe Vincent throughout Miami’s surprising playoff run to the NBA Finals, playing an effective 20-25 minutes a night.
At 37, it’s fair to wonder if that sort of minutes allotment should be the expectation moving forward. But with Vincent having signed with the Lakers as a free agent this summer, Lowry is the only true point guard left on the roster.
Coach Erik Spoelstra and Lowry told reporters after the first day of training camp, which included mixed lineup scrimmages and individual work, that they have yet to discuss his role this season. But Lowry still views himself as a starter even at this late stage of his career.
“No, we haven’t talked about it yet,” Lowry said. “But the way I work, I expect to be the starting point guard this year.”
“I love that Kyle thinks that way,” Spoelstra said. “He’s a major component to what we want to do.”
As Lowry pointed out, he started the 2022-23 season strong and at one point ranked at the top of the league in minutes played. That workload caught up with him in the second half of the season when he was sidelined for 15 games with a knee injury.
“A lot of people forget last year how well I was playing,” Lowry said. “I was playing a lot of minutes and I think I overdid it.”
If the Heat want to have Lowry start alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, they could keep his minutes limit in place by having him sub out early in each half — similar to how they deployed Kevin Love as the starting power forward.
“I don’t expect to be playing 42 minutes,” Lowry said.
Despite the lack of a roster shakeup this offseason, there’s still plenty of uncertainty around how the team will play this coming season. Training camp and preseason (which tips off on Oct. 10 against the Charlotte Hornets at Kaseya Center) will serve as Miami’s lab to come up with the best approach. But that can change in the regular season.
“I don’t have the answers for a lot of things right now, rotation-wise. But that’s what camp’s for. That’s what preseason’s for,” Spoelstra said. “It’ll inform us, and the regular season will inform us. It doesn’t mean that that’s what it’ll be all year long. We’ll adjust if necessary.”
2. Tyler Herro knows his role
Herro acknowledged the trade discussions he was a part of on social media and during media day but, after the first day of training camp, it’s clear he’s ready to move on and get back onto the court for the first time since breaking his hand in the first game of last season’s playoffs.
“It’s been April since I played,” Herro said, “so I’m ready to get going.”
Most of Herro’s summer was spent away from the team, working out with his own coaches while his NBA future remained in flux. Herro would have been the centerpiece of any trade that brought Damian Lillard to Miami. That didn’t happen, and now Herro returns to a team that made a Finals run in his absence.
Herro said he has a “different mindset” after having spent the summer working on his game, if only partly to distract from the rampant trade speculation.
“It’s all the time,” Herro said of his offseason workouts, many of which he posted on social media. “Heat Culture is something that I embrace.”
Herro has improved as a ball-handler and passer every year, and there’s a chance he could start at point guard this season. When asked about what role he might play, Herro didn’t give it much thought.
“I know my role,” Herro said. “I know my role.”