The Miami Heat are reaching for solutions amid increasing uncertainty that has Dwyane Wade as a sometimes proposition in the lineup.
In Thursday night’s 107-87 road loss to the Chicago Bulls, that meant giving Ray Allen his first start, regular season or playoffs, since he was acquired as a free agent in the 2012 offseason.
“Just,” coach Erik Spoelstra said, “to give ourselves a different look.”
It didn’t work, as the Heat lost for the second time in as many games without Wade.
So now it’s back to the drawing board when it comes to those Plan B nights without Wade, who sat out Tuesday’s home loss to the Detroit Pistons due to lingering knee issues and Thursday’s loss with flu symptoms.
“Our bench is a little bit different now than it was last year,” Spoelstra said, with swingman Mike Miller, a frequent Wade stand-in the previous three seasons, released in an offseason move to save on the luxury tax. “So we thought this was a direction we might be able to go in. But, obviously, it didn’t work well for us.”
As for what’s next, ESPN reported Friday that the Heat are seeking additional backcourt help, with most of Spoelstra’s current fill-in options for Wade primarily spot-up shooters such as Allen and James Jones.
The Heat’s most likely trade chips are forward Udonis Haslem and center Joel Anthony, who both have fallen out of the rotation but also carry the drawback of time on their contracts beyond this season. The Heat also have the option of opening a roster spot by releasing offseason free-agent acquisition Roger Mason Jr., whose contract does not become guaranteed until Jan. 10.
Among those currently unsigned and available to slip into a vacant roster spot are Stephen Jackson, Shannon Brown, DeShawn Stevenson, Richard Hamilton, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Daniel Gibson and Keyon Dooling.
BRYANT BACK SUNDAY — The Lakers expect to have Kobe Bryant back in their lineup when they face the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.
The team posted a dramatic video on its Facebook page Friday indicating Bryant will be back Dec. 8.
Bryant hasn’t played this season while recovering from surgery in April on a torn Achilles tendon.
Los Angeles signed the fourth-leading scoring in NBA history to a two-year contract extension last week. Bryant’s new deal is reportedly worth $48.5 million and takes him into his 20th season with the Lakers.
ROBINSON DRAWS FINE —The NBA fined Nuggets guard Nate Robinson $25,000 for criticizing the officials following Denver’s 97-95 victory over the Knicks last week.
President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn announced the fine Friday.
Robinson’s comments came after he drew a technical foul in the fourth quarter of the Nov. 29 game in Denver.