The sudden connection between Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters and James Johnson was one of the main reasons the Miami Heat came back from the dead mid-season, after being buried as the second-worst team in the East upon an 11-30 start to the season.
Once the trio started clicking, Miami went on a furious 30-11 run the rest of the way, missing the postseason by a mere tiebreaker after rallying the troops in a valiant manner.
Dragic, who will leave for his native Slovenia at the end of the month, won’t do so without convincing his two teammates to return next season and try it all over again.
“Definitely. James and Dion, they know how we feel,” Dragic assured Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post. “They know that we want them back. Everybody is so close that it’s going to be hard for them to choose some other team, too. Hopefully they stay.”
Waiters took a chance on himself this past offseason, choosing to sign a two-year, $5.9 million contract with the Heat, and was able to get enough nods over start Josh Richardson (mostly due to injury) to become a fix in the rotation.
“I just think the opportunity paid off. Everything I talked to Pat [Riley] about this summer came to fruition,” Waiters said. “One thing about Pat, he’s a man of his word. That’s why I chose to take that. I said it was never about the money. It was all about opportunity. I was able to play my game, I was able to show different aspects of my game. I was able to be in position where coach trusted me with the ball in my hands in late game situations. If I was on a different team, I probably would not have been in that situation to take that shot. We’re just getting started. It’s only the beginning.”
Johnson was a Swiss army knife for Erik Spoelstra’s team and was able to keep healthy throughout 2016-17. His acumen for filling in the holes at the offensive and defensive end was one of the key reasons this team jelled so well together.
“I’m home. That’s what it feels like. I love it here,” said Johnson. I had a great season. I love the culture here and I’m very passionate about this place.”