Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry accepted a move to the bench last season, but the veteran doesn’t expect to be used as a reserve this season.
“I expect to be the starting point guard,” Lowry declared to reporters after the Heat’s first training camp practice Tuesday afternoon at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
Has Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told Lowry that he’ll be the starting point guard this season?
“No, we haven’t talked about it yet,” Lowry said. “But I expect, my personal self, the way I worked myself is to be the starting point guard this year.”
Would Lowry be disappointed to be used off the bench again this season?
“I don’t expect to come off the bench,” Lowry said. “I think my job is to expect to be a starting point guard. I’ll do whatever it takes for our team to win basketball games, but I expect to be the starting point guard.
Lowry could get his wish as the only traditional point guard currently on the Heat’s 15-man roster following the departure of Gabe Vincent in free agency.
Vincent took over as the Heat’s starting point guard in February last season when Lowry missed extended time because of a left knee issue, and Vincent remained the starting point guard through the Heat’s run to the NBA Finals. This stretch marked the first time Lowry has been used off the bench since the 2012-13 season with the Toronto Raptors a decade ago.
But Lowry is also 37 years old and averaged 11.2 points per game (lowest since 2009-10) while shooting 40.4 percent from the field (worst since 2012-13) and 34.5 percent from three-point range (worst since 2014-15) last regular season. He also averaged 5.1 assists per game (lowest since 2009-10).
After missing more than a month of games in February and March because of his troublesome left knee, Lowry averaged 9.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 37.5 percent on threes in a reserve role during the Heat’s long playoff run last season. Lowry started one game last postseason when Vincent was not able to play because of an injury.
“Great. Amazing,” Lowry said Tuesday when asked how he feels physically at the start of his 18th NBA season. “I feel like I had a great summer. I got my body right, I got myself right. During the Finals run, I was very healthy. I proved I can play and be healthy at the times that I was needed, and that was that.”
Despite feeling healthy again, Lowry knows he can’t play heavy minutes at this point of his career. Be he still considers himself to be a starting-level point guard in the NBA.
“I love this game. I love to play, I love to compete,” Lowry said. “I have the opportunity to play for another championship for a great organization. I’m just motivated and my kids love to watch me play and I just want to continue to play as long as I can.”
As for the trade rumors this offseason involving his name as an “expiring contract,” Lowry said he tried to stay away from the speculation.
“I didn’t really hear it because I was off of social media and all that stuff,” said Lowry, who is due $29.7 million this season in the final year of his three-year, $85 million contract. “I heard enough of it. It doesn’t bother me. Listen, business is business and that’s our league. Our league is about business. Whatever teams or organizations need to do to make themselves better, they do. At the end of the day, it’s all about preparing yourself for the upcoming season.”
When told Tuesday that Lowry said he expects to be the Heat’s starting point guard, Spoelstra remained non-committal on the rotation after the Heat’s first practice of the season. Despite not being considered as a true point guard, the Heat could also opt to start Tyler Herro at point guard instead of Lowry.
“Look, Kyle is a decorated champion,” Spoelstra said. “We’re going to figure all that out. He’s a major component to what we want to do. I’ll figure things out. I don’t have the answers for a lot of things right now rotation-wise. But that’s what camp is for, that’s what preseason is for. I love that Kyle thinks that way. I want guys that are thinking that way and we’ll figure out the best plan.”
HEAT MAKES DECISION ON JOVIC
The Heat exercised the third-year option in forward Nikola Jovic’s rookie-scale contract on Tuesday, which means his salary for the 2024-25 season is now guaranteed.
This move was expected, as the Heat has now locked Jovic into a team-friendly $2.5 million salary for the 2024-25 season. The Heat had an Oct. 31 deadline to make a decision on the third year of Jovic’s contract.
Jovic, 20, is hoping to earn more playing time this season after injuries helped to limit him to just 15 regular-season games last season as a rookie. He’s coming off a busy offseason that included weeks of summer league action with the Heat before taking part in weeks of competitive games in the FIBA Basketball World Cup with the Serbian national team.
THIS AND THAT
▪ Spoelstra on the Heat’s first training camp practice: “You typically have a good Day 1 from an enthusiasm standpoint. But obviously we brought back quite a few guys. So we were able to fast-track and get into a lot more live play than we normally do on the first practice. The guys came in in great shape, so they wanted to compete. We were able to do that.”
The Heat’s training camp at FAU runs through Saturday before the team returns to Miami. Practices are closed to the public.
Headband Jimmy is here & ready to hoop pic.twitter.com/3ny1Gj2DJH
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 3, 2023
▪ After showing off his “emo” look at media day on Monday, Heat star Jimmy Butler was back to his usual braided hair for the opening practice of training camp on Tuesday.
“He likes to come in and keep you guys off balance,” Spoelstra said Tuesday of Butler. “He came in today ready to work. That’s all that matters to me.”