NBA

Miami Heat’s Max Strus reflects and looks to NBA season

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MIAMI — It’s the duality of the NBA, the possibility of your team being boosted by the commercial acquisition of a Kevin Durant or a Donovan Mitchell, but also the possibility of you being among the distributed players.

So with the league in a bit of a bind, Miami Heat guard Max Strus addressed the uncertainty Tuesday during a visit to the team’s youth camp at FTX Arena.

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“I try not to get into it,” Strus said after speaking to his attentive audience and posing for photos for those at the camp led by former Heat broadcaster Tony Fiorentino. “I try not to get too involved. Of course, you see it, and people ask you about it. But I’ll wait for that to happen. If something happens, it happens. If something happens, it happens.

“But, yeah, how can you not want a guy like Kevin Durant?” He’s a one-in-a-generation type player and a great player in the game and one of the best of all time. I can’t wait to see what happens and I hope the best for him and the best for our team. That’s all that really matters.

For some, it’s been a stagnant offseason for the Heat, or even one that has them down, with starting forward PJ Tucker lost to the Philadelphia 76ers and no outside free agents added by the team.

But for Strus, there remains a core that stood in an NBA Finals game.

“We’re bringing back a good majority of the people we had on our team, so I think people are getting used to selling us short,” he said. “We hear that every summer. And we use it as momentum. So I’m excited for this group and to get them together with the guys from training camp and see what we have.

“And I think sending those guys back and what we got back, I think will be fine.”

Strus finished last season as a starter, replacing Duncan Robinson. But since the end of the season, Tyler Herro has spoken about transitioning from his role as sixth man to the opening roster, with that designation also likely to interest Victor Oladipo, who re-signed in free agency.

Strus, who was not drafted from DePaul in 2019, said he learned not to take anything for granted.

“No, you can’t do that,” he said. “Because the minute you settle down and live this moment, you will miss it. So every day you have to earn that respect and earn that job. That doesn’t come easily in the NBA.

“So I understand that and I’m still working hard to continue to prove myself and be a longtime starter in the NBA.”

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Two years ago in July, the 26-year-old Strus was out of the league recovering from knee surgery as the Heat prepared to resume what would be a run to the NBA Finals.

This time last year, Strus had yet to receive a standard NBA contract, living in uncertainty over a bilateral deal with the Heat.

Now, Strus is looking like a trusted roster item, an intriguing trade chip, with a potential bite in the lucrative free agent market next summer.

“It was crazy, when you think about it like that,” he said. “But I try not to. I kind of try to live in the moment and take each step, each step one day at a time. So I try to enjoy every step of the way and be happy every moment and celebrate every success I have.

While supporting and being supported. Two weeks ago, Strus was at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League sitting alongside teammates Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent and Herro, supporting the Heat’s prospects. Later that week, he was joined by Vincent and Heat captain Udonis Haslem at his Chicago-area youth camp.

“UD texts me all the time that he wanted to come to my camp and wanted to show his support,” Strus said. “So I think we all learn from him and really learn what it means to be a true professional and a great teammate. So having him is huge for us in our dressing room.

“That’s how we all are. We all love each other, celebrate each other’s successes and want to be with each other. And you can’t ask for anything more in a team like this.

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