When Wayne Ellington signed with the Miami Heat last summer he was joining his seventh team in his eighth season in the NBA, and his sixth in the last five years.
The consummate journey man.
But after averaging a career-high 10.5 points and shattering his personal-best with 149 threes, Ellington hopes he’s found a home.
“This is the place that I want to be,” Ellington said following a season in which the Heat rallied from an 11-30 start to finish at .500 and fall one game short of the playoffs.
“This is the place that feels like home to me; that feels really good to me. I feel like the things that we accomplished on the court show that. So we’ll see what happens, man, but I have a good feeling.”
Ellington, 29, signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Heat last summer, with the team having the option to pick up the $6 million he would be owed for 2017-18.
Even with Ellington proving to be a solid scoring option off the bench, the Heat’s decision will not be an easy one. Miami is looking to free up as much cap space as possible and depending who it targets and what it would take if it makes a hard run at retaining James Johnson and Dion Waiters that $6 million could come in handy.
“Everybody feels the same way,” Ellington said. “It’s not just me, it’s not just coach. Everybody feels the same way about this team. I’m sure everybody wants to stay together and we’re going to try to make it happen, I hope.
“This is something that was special to all of us. Not just myself, but it felt like this is the start of something that could really be great for us. But I understand the business.
Ellington’s story was a familiar this season. He credits the Heat’s offseason conditioning program for getting him into shape. And although he missed the first 16 games of the season after suffering a thigh bruise late in the preseason, he made an immediate impact with 39 points in wins at Denver and Utah in late November and early December (his second and third games of the season) while shooting 14 of 23.
Ellington finished the season shooting 37.8 percent on threes, 41.6 percent overall.
“It goes back to August and the type of work we were required to put in,” he said. “I got in some really, really good shape from the beginning. I think that elevated my game.”
Ellington also credited coach Erik Spoelstra for recognizing his strengths. Ellington came off the bench for most of the 62 games he played and was given the freedom to take advantage of one of the quickest releases on the league and his catch-and-shoot ability.
“(Spoelstra) instills so much confidence, not just in me, but I think in all the guys,” he said. “It helped a lot. He put me in unbelievable positions to be successful that played to my strengths. He gave me the opportunity. He saw something in me that he felt like I could really help our team and I’m forever thankful that he put me in that position.”