Miami Heat shooting guard Max Strus has been creating all sorts of hype with his stellar play in the summer league. The undrafted three-point specialist should have a key role off the bench this season for Pat Riley’s rebuilt roster.
That is, if Strus actually picks up the phone when “The Godfather” calls his phone. The Illinois native recently told the “Five on the Floor” podcast that he was scared to death of Riley when he first joined the Heat. He would walk around the halls of the facility with his head down, hoping not to see the former head coach and front-office executive. He was scared to say hello to a true living NBA legend.
“So my first month or two months there, I was afraid to say anything to the guy,” Strus said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s Pat Riley.’ I would just say hi and keep it moving.”
Strus was a revelation on the court this summer in Las Vegas where he averaged 20.8 points in 31.2 minutes per game. He shot 40% from deep (18-for-45) and 39.1% from the field (27-for-69) in four contests. His dagger three-pointer gave the Heat a double-overtime victory back on Aug. 11 and capped a 32-point night for the kid from DePaul.
The Heat inked Strus to a two-year deal worth $3.5 million earlier this offseason after he averaged 6.1 points in 39 games for Miami last season. He had the two-way conversion option in his contract exercised on Dec. 18, 2020.
“As one of our young developing players, Max proved he can be very productive for us,” Riley said. “He stepped up when needed last season and produced. His shooting and overall game is going to help our team immensely.”
The latest Heat news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Heat newsletter here!
Malik Allen Discusses Strus’ Growth
Heat assistant Malik Allen coached Strus during summer-league play and challenged the lights-out shooter to take on a bigger leadership role. He quickly started speaking up in team meetings and raised the confidence levels of everyone around him.
“He has really grown. Just his confidence level. The thing you notice when he first got here was he was a willing listener and just a very smart worker,” Allen said, via Sports Illustrated. “That carried on. But I think just his confidence level.
“The first day he was here, you heard his voice, which is great for these guys. He came in and you felt him when he came in the gym. That for him is a big, big step because that just helps your game grow as well as you get more comfortable in a leadership position.”
Kevin Garnett Throws Shade at Ray Allen
The Boston Celtics are still bitter about Ray Allen ditching Beantown for South Beach in 2012. Kevin Garnett recently cropped Allen out of a 2011 NBA All-Star Game photo of Garnett, Allen, Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce. Maybe Garnett legitimately ran out of space on Instagram, hence the unexpected crop. Or, more likely, Garnett did it on purpose to throw shade at Allen.
The new coach at Gulliver Prep spent five seasons with the Celtics and won a championship there in 2008 playing alongside Garnett. Hard feelings set in when Allen inked a two-year, $6 million to join the Miami Heat. He cut off communication with his Celtics teammates, according to Kendrick Perkins, and a decade-long beef ensued.