Riley, Elisburg, Heat move into scouting mode at Chicago combine, as Spoelstra gets time off

MIAMI — The road to the NBA draft has begun for the Miami Heat with an extensive traveling party.

With the NBA draft combine this week in Chicago, in addition to Heat president Pat Riley and general manager Andy Elisburg, the team also is being represented by assistant general manager Adam Simon, vice president of player personnel Eric Amsler, senior director of team development Ruth Hunter, director of college and pro scouting Keith Askins, scouting operations coordinator Jeff Saunders and scouts Bob Staak, Bob McAdoo and Jack Fitzgerald.

While the Heat finished outside of the 14-team lottery, the Heat’s No. 15 draft slot puts them in a unique position when it comes to access to combine medical, biometric and functional-movement results.

Under a system in place starting this year under the NBA’s new collective bargaining agreement, all invited players are required to attend and participate.

In addition, a player-rating assessment limits the mandatory release of medical testing results.

For example, with Australian big man Alexandre Sarr listed as the No. 1 prospect at the combine, his medical testing results only are required to be released to the teams with the top 10 picks.

However, for the prospects ranked Nos. 2-6, those results are required to be released on to teams with the first 15 selections, such as the Heat.

Those listed in that group of the next five top-ranked prospects are Lithuanian big man Matas Buzelis, Connecticut guard Stephon Castle, Connecticut center Donovan Clingan, French forward Zaccharrie Risacher and Serbian guard Nikola Topic.

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While those six prospects are expected to go well before the Heat’s selection on June 26, the access point would make it easier for the Heat to contemplate a potential move up the draft order with such additional information in hand. It also could entice a team to trade up to No. 15 to gain access to such information.

In all, 78 players have been invited to the 2024 NBA draft combine, with competition and testing at Wintrust Arena and interviews at a downtown Chicago hotel. Among those on the invitation list are University of Miami forward Kyshawn George, Florida State wing Jamir Watkins and North Florida’ guard Chaz Lanier.

Executive suite

Among those from the executive suite not listed on with Heat’s traveling party in Chicago is former Heat captain Udonis Haslem, who is listed as the Heat’s vice president of player development.

Haslem also has been working this postseason as an NBA TV analyst, while also appearing on ESPN.

Haslem recently offered views on Heat guard Tyler Herro being better suited as a sixth man and said the Heat might be best served by playing a true center alongside Bam Adebayo.

That had Riley indicating a meeting-of-the-minds intervention was needed.

“He has to understand that he works for the Heat,” Riley said with a smile of Haslem being both Heat employee and NBA analyst. “And, like, go for it. But he works for the Heat. And I had that conversation with him, because I think he’s really good on NBA TV or ESPN, on the studio shows.”

Haslem also hosts a no-holds-barred podcast with former Heat teammate Mike Miller.

“He and Mike Miller are funny as hell on his podcast,” Riley said, adding with a laugh, “half the stories are a lie when he starts going on about me, or are embellished.”

As for Haslem’s Herro and Adebayo candor?

“But, yeah, he probably should have kept that to himself,” Riley said.

Time off

Also bypassing the combine is coach Erik Spoelstra, who this past season received an eight-year extension worth a reported $120 million.

Riley said the extension was common sense.

“He deserves it,” he said of his handpicked successor in 2008. “He could have been a free agent and gone anywhere. That leads to organizational stability with your players.

“Players who come to him and his staff and develop, other players see that. All of a sudden, they have career contracts and career opportunities. It’s a credit to him.”