Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has revealed that star forward Jimmy Butler will start the season on minutes restriction after averaging 43 minutes per game in the NBA Finals. Butler gave his absolute best and left it all in the court in the NBA Finals but the Heat still couldn't stun the Los Angeles Lakers and win their first title since 2013.
"He's not going to be playing the kind of minutes, regardless, that he was playing when he was in his early 20s," Spoelstra said, per ESPN. "We were already adjusting that last year during the regular season, pre-bubble.
I understand how much energy, physical and mental and emotional energy that he expended during that bubble run, but I tell him all the time: This is the life you chose. Ultimately, this is what you wanted, is to be a part of these kind of teams that play deep into the playoffs."
Spoelstra says the Heat have to be clever with Butler
Butler, who is known for his exceptional hard work, signed with the Heat in the summer of 2019 because he was a huge fan of their hard-working culture. It has been less than two months since the last season finished and Spoelstra doesn't want to overload Butler and some other veterans on the team when the new season kicks off on 22 December.
"This is something different," Spoelstra said. "And this is why we brought Jimmy here, is to be a part of something that's harder, that's much more difficult to try and accomplish. But you want to be mindful of all this, it is a long journey.
I think one of the most beautiful qualities that Jimmy has is of gratitude. Of having an opportunity to compete for a title. And to be around like-minded people, his teammates, but also as an organization, we're aligned with him in how he views competition.
So no, I'm not expecting him on Sunday to be in a full scale, Hunger Games, pads-up practice. "I don't think we're ready for that anyway, but he understands as well as anybody you can't skip steps, there will be a process to it.
But we'll try to be as smart as possible and mindful as possible to keep -- the guys that need to be fresh, we'll keep them fresh. It's our first time going through this, even though this is a little bit different, obviously."