Despite losing Briante Weber to Warriors, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra ‘really happy’ for young point guard

Briante Weber #12 of the Miami Heat looks on during a timeout against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 13, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

Briante Weber #12 of the Miami Heat looks on during a timeout against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on April 13, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

MIAMI — Earlier this week, Erik Spoelstra said Briante Weber’s time in the NBA “will come.”

That time came just a few days later as Weber joined the Golden State Warriors on a 10-day contract that began Saturday.

“He absolutely earned it,” Spoelstra said of Weber in advance of Saturday’s game against the 76ers. “I’m really happy for him. He’s put in the time. He hasn’t skipped a step. He approached every part of this as an opportunity to get better and everybody’s journey is different to get in this league. He’s a bonafide NBA player.”

Weber shined with the Heat’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, this season. The 24-year-old point guard on Wednesday was named D-League Player of the Month for January a day after finishing one steal short of becoming the first player to record a quadruple-double in D-League history.

Weber, who was one of Miami’s final roster cuts before the season, entered the week as the top NBA prospect in the D-League’s “Prospect Watch” Top 25 rankings. He averaged 16.5 points on 45.6 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 7.4 assists and 3.3 steals per game with the Skyforce this season before agreeing to sign with Golden State.

“I texted with [Weber] last night and texted with (Golden State coach) Steve Kerr just wishing him all the best because we invested a lot of time with Bri,” Spoelstra said. “The way it works out, it didn’t work with us. But we want to continue to give and serve and help develop guys and help them find their dream, hopefully with us. But if it’s not possible, we want to damn make sure that it’s somewhere else.”

According to a source, the Heat made a late push to keep Weber from leaving the organization. With offers from the Charlotte Hornets and Warriors on the table, Miami extended an offer to Weber earlier this week but he opted to sign with Golden State.

Why didn’t Weber accept the Heat’s offer?

“Just the situation,” Weber said to reporters Saturday. “I had Charlotte and Miami. Charlotte has three point guards. Miami, of course, has 17 guards, period.”

The Heat don’t have 17 guards, but they have a lot of them. Miami’s roster includes starting guards Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters, and guards Tyler Johnson and Wayne Ellington off the bench with Josh Richardson expected to return soon from a sprained left foot.

“I just felt like I’ve been with Miami and they haven’t picked me up now, then why continue to go down the same road?,” Weber said. “So I figured I should pick something new and actually a team with a spot and they actually let somebody go to fill me in. That says a lot about the organization and about how they feel about me being potentially being here for longer than just 10 days. So I kind of picked a spot that was going to give me the best opportunity to expose myself and put myself on the radar where everybody else can see.”

The Heat would have had to waive a player to make room for Weber on the roster with the offer they made him this week. Even though Miami has lost Weber for now, Spoelstra said the organization doesn’t regret the time it spent developing him.

“You can’t be jaded by that and you can’t be hurt,” Spoelstra said. “You have to enjoy someone else’s success and their opportunity. We invest and we tell them early on, we are going to do everything we possibly can to help you reach your dream. We really hope it’s with us, but we’re constricted by the rules.”

But the rules will allow the Heat to have control of a few of their D-League prospects next season.

Two-way contracts will be added under the new collective-bargaining agreement, which will allow teams to keep the rights to two players on their D-League teams on top of the NBA’s standard 15-player roster limit. NBA teams will pay these players who move between their parent teams and D-League teams depending on where they’re playing.

The Heat would have benefited from two-way contracts this season, as they likely would have used it on Okaro White and Weber. Now, Weber is with the Warriors and the Heat must decide what to do with White when his second 10-day contract expires Sunday.

If the Heat decide to release White back to their D-League team, Miami runs the risk of another NBA team signing him away just like Golden State did with Weber.

“Next year, this probably won’t be as much of a problem,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll be able to keep guys and develop them longer. But we push our guys that if it’s not with us, we’re making calls to try to help them get somewhere else. It’s all part of our player development and there’s a karma to it. If we help enough people out that we’ll benefit from it. But you get to know these guys, you want to help them. You want to serve them and allow them to realize their dreams.”

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