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Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson gone but not forgotten by Heat amid NBA Finals

By Ira Winderman, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Basketball

To reach this point, the Miami Heat's first visit to the NBA Finals since 2014, required both growth and change.

So seeds were planted, but not everything bloomed, or at least not on Pat Riley's and the franchise's timetable.

So no Josh Richardson against the Los Angeles Lakers in the best-of-seven championship series. Or Justise Winslow. Or Tyler Johnson. Or Rodney McGruder.

That is the flip side of attempting to do it organically. Patience can wear thin along the way.

For coach Erik Spoelstra, it is one of the most difficult parts of the process.

"The guys that aren't here were big contributors to building a year like this," he said during a private moment to the Sun Sentinel. "And we hope that we helped them, as well."

 

While others have come and gone in the interim, contributors such as Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Luke Babbitt, Josh McRoberts, Amar'e Stoudemire and Wayne Ellington, their NBA stories began elsewhere.

But those born into the Heat's culture seemingly were part of an end game, Winslow drafted by the Heat in the first round in 2015, Richardson in the second, with Johnson and McGruder developed in the Heat's G League system.

"Not everybody can start and finish their careers here," Spoelstra said. "There's a business to this. But we want to have a positive impact on any players coming through here.

"When they leave our doors, hopefully they became better for it: Better basketball players. Learn how to become better parts of a functioning team. Learning how to see a bigger picture. Learning how to become more professional, a better leader. All of these things."

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