Miami Heat’s Andy Elisburg crunches numbers at higher levels

MIAMI — The change in designation was subtle, with the Miami Heat announcing Thursday that Andy Elisburg’s title had been changed from Senior Vice President, Basketball Operations/General Manager to Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations/General Manager.

The reality is that the mainstay of the franchise’s entire 35-season history remains, as always, the Muse of (Higher) Math.

Or, as he explained during a WQAM radio interview during the Heat’s just-concluded summer league run, he’s the member of Pat Riley’s staff charged with making sense of yet another NBA collective bargaining agreement, in this case the one in place for the first time in this 2023-24 league calendar.

“First of all, like I’ve always said about the CBA, you have to understand two plus two equals five,” Elisburg said of trying to understand the league’s new salary cap. “As long as you understand that, everything becomes simple.”

Which, of course, is anything but, as Heat coach Erik Spoelstra explained ahead of last season’s NBA trade deadline.

“He speaks a different language when he talks about the cap,” Spoelstra said with a laugh of his conversations with Elisburg. “He’s losing us all. It’s like, ‘Wow.’ We are literally checkers and it is chess.”

But Spoelstra also appreciates probably the NBA’s ultimate expert kapologist.

“I love sitting in his office in the offseason,” Spoelstra said. “I’m learning a lot. I don’t think I’m keeping anything, but I’m definitely learning a lot.

“It’s really fascinating to see how he can solve problems and find solutions to things that look impossible.”

That’s likely the case at the moment, with the Heat working through various tricks for a potential trade for Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard, who has openly lobbied for a move to Miami.

While Heat president Riley remains the franchise’s singular forward-looking voice when it comes to personnel, having been the team’s policy since Riley’s arrival in 1995, it has been Elisburg’s math-a-match-ics that has made so many of the team’s transactions fit the logistics of the salary cap.

“Andy is so deserving of this promotion,” Riley said in a statement announcing Elisburg’s promotion. “Working together for 28 years has brought so many great transactions that have improved the franchise multiple times over the years, both on and off the court. More importantly, Andy’s knowledge and work ethic is second to none, he has been involved in everything we do at The Heat, and we look forward to continued success.”

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