January 24, 2015
Q: After reading your answers to others about trades, are you under the assumption the Heat will make none by the deadline, and only use their injury exception on a marginal player? To me, it feels like a big move is coming. -- Logan, Miami.
A: I don't foresee a "big" move, because I don't think the Heat necessarily have the chips, especially with Josh McRoberts injured and with Hassan Whiteside still not back (thus the need for Chris Andersen at the moment). But I do think they are planning to do something, which is why Tyler Johnson was not signed for a second 10-day contract. Based on what the Heat's salary cap doesn't say and what Forbes does about the Heat's financial state, there is no reason not to put the $2.65 million disabled-player exception for McRoberts into play. Basically, I think the Heat see what's available at the end of the season in China in February and March (Andray Blatche?) before deciding whether a deal is necessary. I do think what you're seeing is likely what you're going to get the balance of the season. And, honestly, for the goal of making the playoffs, it should be more than enough in the East. All of that said, it remains unfathomable to me that the Heat still do not have a true backup shooting guard this late in the season. The result was Dwyane Wade, headaches and dehydration and all, having to push through 32 minutes Friday against the Pacers. There simply has to be more behind Wade than Mario Chalmers. There just has to be. As it was, James Ennis wasn't even used Friday.
Q: Ira, I love Dwyane Wade and everything he has done for the Heat, and would never say anything bad about him. But it might be best he didn't get the start in the All-Star Game. Chris Bosh, too. We need them hungry. -- Alvin.
A: I'm not sure at this stage of their careers that an All-Star snub will fuel hunger. That's also not the personality of either. Wade certainly downplayed it after Friday's victory. And a week on a tropical beach also could be best for the second half of their seasons. I still think Wade gets voted in by conference coaches. He's still Dwyane Wade. Based on the Heat's record, I think both appreciate the situation. To winners go All-Star spoils. As it is, because of endorsements, it is possible both Heat stars wind up having to spend at least part of the All-Star break in New York.
Q: I guess Erik Spoelstra wants more Shabazz Napier than Mario Chalmers. -- Ricky.
A: I'm not sure if it isn't perhaps that Pat Riley wants more Napier. Period. The reality is that the Heat have made Chalmers their de facto backup shooting guard, so the minutes at point guard are there for Napier. In fact, Norris Cole entered for the first time Friday against the Pacers only when Napier asked out midway through the second period. Napier played 21:54 against the Pacers, with Cole only playing 12:16, in what is becoming somewhat of a trend.
January 23, 2015
Q: Danny Granger? Any chance that we just waive him and eat the money? I'm still hoping we get rid of Justin Hamilton. We can use those spots for Khem Birch, Andray Blatche or anyone that can create his own shot (even if they don’t play defense). -- Jorge.
A: First, the Heat should not have trouble creating roster space should it become needed. With Granger holding an option for next season, there is no reason or need to eat his deal, even if he been limited in his contributions. I do think that Hamilton's time with the team could be winding down, if more is needed than the 10-day roster spot of Tyler Hamilton. Should Hassan Whiteside not miss major time, and should the Heat keep Chris Andersen beyond the trading deadline, then the Heat seemingly would have an overabundance of depth (if not talent) in the power rotation, with Udonis Haslem now playing ahead of Hamilton. If not the Feb. 1 trading deadline, then the March 1 buyout-waiver deadline for playoff eligibility could impact Hamilton's Heat future. As for Granger, after so much talk by Erik Spoelstra of him being ahead of schedule, there has to be concern that this is all there is. Perhaps the arrival of the Pacers will get him back to the level he stood the last time the teams met on New Year's Eve.
Q: Will Norris Cole be a Miami Heat on Feb. 20, 2015? -- Bill.
A: Hmm. You have to wonder, considering the Heat otherwise would be faced with a June 30 deadline of whether to extend a $3 million qualifying offer to retain a right of first refusal in the offseason and keep Cole as a restricted free agent. Otherwise, Cole would become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. At this point, the Heat are so limited with the chips they could put into play, that it would seem they would either want to move Cole by the trading deadline or somewhere down the road. Again, it comes down to the development of Shabazz Napier and where the Heat see Mario Chalmers when his contract expires after next season. The flip side is how the rest of the league views Cole. Of course, all it takes is one interested party to make a trade or one interested party to simply pluck him away in free agency. The Heat are in no position to lose something for nothing, when at least a draft pick or trade exception could be mined.
Q: Listen, there's one thing that I've learned in life: Never underestimate Pat Riley. -- Steve.
A: But Riley also, at times, has taken the long view, as he did with the wind-down with Shaquille O'Neal and the buildup to 2010 free agency. This could be one of those times, where it only becomes apparent later why there had to be such tough times now. Faith in Pat Riley is fine. But understand it might have to be long-term faith.
January 22, 2015
Q: It's incredible to me how much Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have regressed. I know it's not a smart thing or fair to say, but 'Rio could be blamed for the last two losses. He killed runs and had so many turnovers. What has happened to these two? -- Julio.
A: The problem is that things that worked and meshed and clicked with LeBron James alongside don't always work and mesh and click in his absence. Chalmers and Cole appear to be examples 1 and 1A. Beyond that, it sure seems like Erik Spoelstra was perhaps nudged to utilize Shabazz Napier more often. Napier, too, has struggled, but there still might be an upside there. Of course, when Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are at the top of their games, it offsets some of the struggles by the point guards. The reality is that the Heat might not have been in those tight finishes without Chalmers' aggression.