Is Heat’s Kyle Lowry sending a message about Pat Riley’s message? – The Denver Post

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Q: What is Kyle Lowry’s contract status after this year? After hearing his comments regarding him getting in better shape as per Pat Riley’s directive, do the Heat have to renew him next year if his 2022-23 season is similar to last year’s? – Bob, Davie.

A: First, until the hamstring injury in the playoffs, Kyle Lowry had a solid first season with the Heat, especially in light of the time that a family matter took him away from the team. When he was on the court in 2021-22, he was good and the Heat were good. As for his contract, it is for $28.3 million this season and $29.7 million in 2023-24 in the final year of his three-year, $85 million deal. And as for Kyle downplaying Pat Riley’s conditioning questions, that is nothing more than pride. It is similar to how Tim Hardaway bristled at such Riley concerns when Riley included a weight clause in Tim’s contract. Comments don’t matter; actions do. And Kyle clearly has arrived at Heat camp in season-ready shape.

Q: I’m very optimistic for this Heat season, but I think it’s reasonable to expect a little bit of a dropoff from Max Strus, Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent. The Heat always find a way to mine undrafted talent, but it seems those same players take a step back once they hit the scouting report. – John, Ocala.

A: I’m not sure if it is a case of taking a step back or the challenge increasing. With great expectations come greater responsibilities. Ultimately, that becomes too great a challenge for some, with that now a concern with Duncan Robinson, after the Heat perhaps assumed too much about what he could sustain on his plate. One thing about Max Strus, Caleb Martin and Gabe Vincent is they all are well-grounded, appreciative of what it took to get here and what it will take to make the next step. I do not see any of those three regressing. What I cannot be as certain about is how much further they can raise their games. That’s what will make this season, particularly the early stages, intriguing.

Q: My “Ask Ira” question today: In the upcoming season, do you see the Miami Heat getting Bam Adebayo out more in the open court on the fastbreak? Tape from last season shows he is really hard to stop when he is running. – Stuart.

A: A couple of things there. First, the best way to bust out in transition for a big man is to secure the rebound. So Bam Adebayo’s transition opportunities could well be a factor of his defensive rebounding. But you also have to be careful of carrying too much of such a mindset. Too many players get so caught up in going end to end that they get lost, so to speak, in the red zone. That sort of was the case with KZ Okpala, who would get into the paint and then all bets were off. Going further back, Billy Owens was so caught up in pushing the ball as a bigger man that the defense would set up at midcourt to pick his pocket off the dribble, knowing he was headed there with his head down. So even if Bam picks up his pace, it also has to be done in moderation and with purpose.

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