July 24, 2014
A: I agree that with the current mix, where Danny Granger currently stands as the top reserve to Dwyane Wade at shooting guard, that keeping Beasley as a wing wound make some sense, for the one-on-one offense that at times is needed. I also think there could be more patience with LeBron James gone, as far as putting up with Michael's lapses. But his defense has to get better, especially with the Heat lacking rim protection when Chris Andersen is out of the game. As for Oden, I just don't sense a comfort or commitment to spot him for regular minutes, which is something I think Greg wants to see if he still is capable of handling.
Q: What do you expect the Heat to do with the rest of their cap space? -- Steve.
A: Nothing, because they don't have any. And the Heat used their last salary-cap exception to bring back Udonis Haslem. But it's also been somewhat overstated that the Heat now can only sign players at the veteran minimum. The Heat also can add players via trades. And that makes Norris Cole somewhat of a valuable chip, with his $2 million salary creating permutations that could grow even greater when added to Justin Hamilton's contract, which does not become even partially guaranteed until Aug. 1. And remember, Pat Riley tends to add intriguing pieces at the minimum closer to camp, as he did last season with Beasley and Roger Mason Jr. (who also remains available).
Q: Hey Ira, do you think once the Chris Bosh World Tour is over that it would benefit him to do some work with Hakeem Olajuwon much like LeBron did a couple of years back? I think it may be beneficial, seeing as he will likely be getting more work in the post this upcoming season. -- Karl, Miami.
A: The thing is, Chris already has post moves; they've just been dormant in recent years. Plus, his style is a bit different than Olajuwon's, with more of a face-up, mid-post game that allows for the threat of his mid-range jumper. Look, Erik Spoelstra helped find games that maximized the possibilities for LeBron and Wade in recent years, and I would expect that he'll be spending plenty of time at the Oregon Coast coming up with possibilities for Bosh and the rest of his reconfigured mix.
July 23, 2014
Q: Ira, I've read (and listened) where you've said that if LeBron James told the Heat earlier that he was leaving, the Heat would have taken a different approach to free agency. But if they did get Kyle Lowry or Marcin Gortat, they might not have been able to add as many players. -- Felix.
A: You have a point. If the Heat did overbid for Lowry or Gortat, and if Chris Bosh still wanted his max deal, then it might have been just a single tangible addition, instead of Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. In fact, if the Heat had more cap space at the start of free agency, it is possible they would have spent significantly more on Deng. Look, I like the Deng addition at his price point, and the same with McRoberts. As for Granger? It is a typical Pat Riley-esque risk, some of which work, some of which don't. I will say this: For a team that lost LeBron James, the Heat did well to avoid the tag of free-agency's biggest loser. They played the space race well, perhaps better than if LeBron had left earlier. You raise a reasonable point.
Q: Hello Ira, I am concerned that the Heat have not made any additional moves to address their lack of height and rebounding. "Small Ball" was a bit of a stretch even with LeBron. Any thoughts? -- Roger, Miami.
A: You can only add what's available and what's within your means. Yes, they might have been able to get Chris Kaman instead of McRoberts, or Spencer Hawes instead of Deng, but I think the initial approach has to be maximizing the roster's overall talent. And when the Heat went for height and bulk last summer, in Greg Oden, it was largely unplayable height and bulk. There still is time and there still is length out there. Riley will pounce if he sees value and someone who is serviceable in this system.
Q: The Heat should have traded their draft pick for Iman Shumpert when they had the chance? -- Vince, Hollywood.
A: In hindsight, perhaps, but there also were salary-cap implications there. As it is, the Knicks seem to be having a backcourt fire sale, so perhaps we may yet get our first Phil Jackson-Pat Riley trade.
July 22, 2014
Q: Hey Ira, you always hear that the truly great players make their teammates better. Now, I'm not arguing with the Heat's success with LeBron James, but do you feel that he made anyone better? Seems like, at least stat-wise, many players did worse as the years went on. I know age/injury were responsible for some of that, but I'd like to get your thoughts. -- Jerry, Fort Lauderdale
A: I think in addition to all being witnesses with LeBron, some also turn into spectators. That is only natural when LeBron advances the ball, taps on his chest, indicates that he is taking this one himself. And, yes, there is a natural sacrifice of statistics when a teammate no longer is a leading man. But LeBron's passing and playmaking also allowed teammates to have career-best shooting percentages, as he attracted the defense's focus. All of that said, I do think you will see certain aspects from returning Heat players that had not been on full display in recent seasons. And the reality is those aspects now have to be on display.