Wayne Ellington was all smiles at Nova High School in Davie on Tuesday visiting the Miami Heat Camp and hanging out with the local kids. He was even happier to discuss returning to the Heat after the team picked up their option to retain the man with the golden arm.
“It means a lot to me,” he said. “It was my first time returning to a team since my second or third year in the NBA. It means a heck of a lot to me that the team wanted me back and obviously Andy (Elisburg) did some amazing things to be able to fit everything in.
“At the end of the year, Pat (Riley) told me, ‘I want to get better, but I want to get better with you.’ It made me feel like he was going to do, obviously, what he had to do to get our team to be better which I feel like he did and at the same time I was able to stay on board. So I’m ecstatic about that and I feel good. I know we’re all hungry this season and we have a lot to prove.”
Ellington also discussed being in the situation this summer of having to wait to see whether he would stay or not while the Heat made other moves.
“I was just patient and just relaxed, honestly, because I knew at the end of the day I had listened to what Pat told me and I had faith in that and at the same time, I’m a guy that has been in some many different situations and I’ve been on a lot of teams so far that I knew that the outcome was going to be good no matter what it is. I’m just ecstatic for the season to start now.
“It was different because usually when you’re a free agent you know that you’re free and anything can happen. My fate was in the team’s hands. Everybody expressed to me how important I was to the team and that they wanted me back so it was a waiting game at the end of the day. I’m ecstatic to be here and I’m happy that I can be back with my brothers and we can continue where we left off.”
Riley found a way to not only retain Ellington after trading away Josh McRoberts to the Dallas Mavericks but also re-sign James Johnson and Dion Waiters while also nabbing Kelly Olynyk in free agency.
“I’ve been in the league for a little while now and I know how everything works,” he said about the McRoberts trade. “Just seeing that money kind of matches, it made me feel like that move was being done for a certain reason. But still at the end of the day, you still never know. I’m just thankful and I feel very grateful and blessed to be able to be in this situation.”
Ellington, who averaged a career-high 10.5 points and converted 37.8 percent of his shots from beyond the arc last season, will be counted on to provide his offense off the bench next season and says he’s been continuing to work on his body and his game during the offseason. True to his character, he’s positive that the Heat have improved enough to compete with any team in the East.
“I feel like we can beat anybody. That’s our mindset, that’s our swag. I see us at the top of the East, regardless of who’s in the East. I feel like the way we’ve been working and the way we left off at and what we showed we’re capable of...if we start the season the right way and we’re on the same page like I know we’re capable of, the sky is the limit for our group.”
As far as what has made this particular group of players want to stay together and enjoy playing with each other so much, Ellington pointed out it was more than just the chemistry on the court that made it so special.
“I feel like we grew a bond together that you don’t really see much in the NBA,” he told Hot Hot Hoops. “A lot of guys that truly care about each other, not just on the court but off the court. Our families hang out, our wives and girlfriends, and our kids play. We’re all around the same age and we’re going through the same things as men in life so we built a bond. It’s not just about basketball, so it makes us even better on the floor.”