ASK IRA: Is lack of proven depth a legitimate Heat concern?


September 17, 2014

Q: Injuries and other unforeseen factors can have an impact on the roster during the entire season. Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem may not be able to put in the minutes they did before, as they age. Danny Granger and Dwyane Wade have a history of injury issues. Shabazz Napier, James Ennis, Shawne Williams, Shannon Brown are unknown fits within the Heat system and how Erik Spoelstra views them. -- Oscar, Miami.

A: Points all reasonably made. And I wholeheartedly agree that the Heat's bench presents serious concerns. As with the Dolphins, there simply are too many significant positions with too much questionable depth Again, there still is time before the start of the season (and something that still can be handled early in the season) to address those concerns. But the wing depth hardly is overwhelming, and Birdman stands as the only proven rim deterrence. Of course, it also is possible that options emerge in camp, such as James Ennis, which might be why the Heat don't want to overload the roster with veterans on guarantees. I get that. But there also is enough capable depth still available to ease some of those concerns, be it Andray Blatche, Ramon Sessions, Jordan Crawford or Wayne Ellington. When the Heat searched for answers last offseason, they did not sign Michael Beasley until Sept. 11, and in previous years went even later to sign contributors, including Gary Payton, a move they made on Sept. 22, 2005. So there still is time.

Q: Justin Hamilton seems to be forgotten, yet he is the quintessential stretch five. He shot 33 percent from 3-point land and 74 percent around the basket. Hamilton is far from perfect, but every player has their flaws that the team has to deal with. Of the returning players, he is one of the best shooters. -- Evan, Miami.

A: And therefore intriguing, which could be among the reasons the Heat might already see enough in a power rotation that is headed by Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem. In recent years, the Heat simply have not gone very deep in their power rotation. The question becomes whether small ball still will work in the void of LeBron James holding things to together. Hamilton deserves an extended camp look, but has to rebound and show something on defense, as well.

Q: Ira, if you had to predict today the Heat's position in the East's standings where do you see them? -- Joel.

A: I see them fighting with Toronto and maybe Charlotte for the No. 4 seed in the East, behind Cleveland, Chicago and Washington. My greatest unknown is Brooklyn, with that a matter of where Deron Williams and Brook Lopez stand in their comebacks.



September 16, 2014

Q: The good thing about training camp this year, unlike other years, is the competition for spots nine through 15. Let's hope we find an Ike Austin, Anthony Mason or John Starks in this group. And money will not be the deciding factor. -- Ray, Miami.

A: While Pat Riley has had his success in both New York and Miami when it comes to finding diamonds in the rough, I don't think there are nearly as many spots up for grabs in camp as you suggest. And money does matter, because it always does, even if just for having tangible trade chips. Definites for the roster are the projected starting lineup of Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Luol Deng, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade. Also seemingly locked in are Chris Andersen, Norris Cole, Danny Granger, Udonis Haslem and Shabazz Napier. And you'd have to figure that the Heat would want to go with James Ennis longer that just training camp (even if it means sending him out for seasoning to the D-League). So that's 11 roster spots accounted for (when farming out players to the Sioux Falls Skyforce, those spots count against the NBA roster). From there, I agree that it could be wide open (but also believe that at least one more proven veteran will be added, a player likely to account for a roster spot, as well). Handicapping from there, Justin Hamilton might have an edge because of his time with the team and height. The Heat clearly saw something in NBA veterans Shawne Williams and Reggie Williams, as well, signing both before the likes of Shannon Brown. And remember, teams do not have to open the season with the maximum of 15 players (although because of the Heat's position outside of the luxury tax, there is absolutely no reason for them not to make such expenditures).

Q: Does Pat Riley not know that Jordan Crawford, Wayne Ellington and Andray Blatche are still out there? -- Bruno, Fort Lauderdale.

A: Not only does/did he know that, but he apparently always knew they still would be available this late in the offseason, making it more of a buyers' market for teams to dictate such additions on their own terms. As stated above, I still see the Heat adding the type of veteran who essentially would become a lock to make their roster.

Q: Is there any chance for Kevin Garnett to go to Miami for the veteran minimum? -- Charles.

A: No. If Kevin Garnett plays this season, it would have to be for the Nets, unless they trade him or agree to waive him to get him to more of a contender. The Heat have neither the cap space nor the championship odds to entice a move toward K.G.

 


September 15, 2014

Q: Please Ira, please explain to me why Mario Chalmers continues to start for this team? What am I not seeing? He would be a backup on most teams and we need someone that can create, penetrate and finish more than ever at the point-guard spot. -- Patrick, Miami.