2018-19 Season Preview: Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade and the Heat will look to improve on last season's first-round playoff exit.

Coach: Erik Spoelstra (entering his 11th season, 484-320, .602).

Last Season: 44-38, lost in the first round of the playoffs to Philadelphia, 4-1.

Key Returnees: Dwyane Wade, Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Wayne Ellington, Justice Winslow, Kelly Olynyk.

Key Additions: None.

Key Losses: None.

Outlook: For the Heat, to paraphrase the great Popeye, “they is what they is.” Without a draft pick for the second time in the last three offseasons and with minuscule salary-cap flexibility, Miami will tip off the 2018-19 season as it ended the 2018-18 campaign — a fringe playoff team, without a franchise-type player and pigeon-holed into its current form. On top of that, last season ended with a thud with an unceremonious first-round playoff departure in five games to the Philadelphia 76ers and the Heat’s highest-paid player, Hassan Whiteside, at odds with coach Erik Spoelstra, who came to keep the big man on the bench in the finale minutes of tight games. With two seasons remaining at an average of $25 million per, Whiteside and team officials supposedly talked and reached some type of solution, though it remains to be seen what goes down when the Feb. 7 trade deadline approaches if things spiral as they did last season. The veteran cast of Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, Tyler Johnson, Wayne EllingtonJustice Winslow and Kelly Olynyk are all back with Whiteside. Many teams are either rebuilding or on the rise, though for the Heat, they are somewhere in between. For what it’s worth, team honcho Pat Riley turns 74 in March. It will intriguing to see if he sticks around long enough for the Heat to contend again. Knowing Riley, he will undoubtedly try.