ASK IRA: Could Ellington, Blatche alleviate Heat bench concerns?


September 2, 2014

Q: Wayne Ellington is a career 38-percent 3-point shooter. The Heat need help spreading the floor. To me, signing him is a no-brainer. Otherwise you rely on Mario Chalmers? C'mon.  -- Martin.

A: Totally agree. Which also is why patience is so important throughout this process, because players do tend to shake free. The difference between this and, say, Shannon Brown, is the Heat should not think twice when it comes to a guarantee. If that's what it takes to land Ellington, provided he can be signed at the veteran minimum, then that's what the Heat need to do, allowing the roster and rotation to shake out during camp. It's one thing to count dollars while a tax team, but a completely different situation in the Heat's new, post-LeBron James reality.

Q: At this point wouldn't Ekpe Udoh or Andray Blatche be a better option than Nazr Mohammed? -- Bryan, Mountain View, Calif.

A: I don't know about Udoh, because I simply haven't seen enough. But the way Blatche has looked at the World Cup, of course he would be preferable. But it's also a matter of the commitment the Heat would be willing to take in terms of role. For example, with Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts starting, and with Chris Andersen brought back on a two-year, $10 million deal, would there be enough of a role there for Blatche to embrace? Otherwise, I don't see how he wouldn't help. Add Blatche and Ellington and I don't think there would be nearly as much concern about a drop off with the Heat bench if Ray Allen doesn't return.

Q: Ira, do you have any background info on the changes to the Heat's coaching staff? I understand the staff is "evolving," but why and in what direction? Thanks. -- Ricardo, Miami.

A: Basically, in Erik Spoelstra's direction, that after six years as head coach, he has earned the right to determine his own staff, not have Pat Riley dictate that decision from the front office. This is not about Ron Rothstein or Bob McAdoo; this is about Spoelstra's comfort of "his" people in "his" huddle. It is extremely rare to have had a staff, as the Heat did with Rothstein and McAdoo, that transitions through three different head coaches.



September 1, 2014

Q: What if Pat Riley had worked behind the scenes to orchestrate a trade involving something like Deng, Josh McRoberts and Chalmers for Kevin Love? -- Jason, Miami Lakes.

A: OK, hopefully for the final time this offseason, let me again explain: Players signed in the offseason cannot be dealt before Dec. 15, with the exception of draft picks. So Chris Bosh, McRoberts, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem, Deng, Danny Granger, Dwyane Wade, Chalmers and others aren't going anywhere before then. It's why the Heat are extremely limited when it comes to trade chips beyond, perhaps, Norris Cole and Justin Hamilton, the only players who were under contract to the team at the start of the offseason. Don't blame Riley; blame the collective-bargaining agreement. Besides, Minnesota got a heck of a package for Love in Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett and Thaddeus Young, one the Heat were in no position to match, CBA restrictions of otherwise.

Q: Considering the Heat's weakness is at point guard, don't they have to explore Rajon Rondo if the Celtics consider moving him, perhaps something with Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole? -- Humberto.

A: When it comes to trade possibilities with Chalmers and other Heat assets, see the above. But beyond whether the Celtics would be willing to wait until Dec. 15 (and they just might, since there would be so much more available to trade for), it's not as if the Heat have many chips to put into play even then. Remember, the Heat's 2015 first-round pick is headed to the 76ers provided it is not among the first 10. That would mean the Heat could not include a first-round pick in any deal that's for earlier than 2017 (and even then there could be strings attached). And it's not as if the Heat have the type of young prospects that intrigue, such as the Cavaliers had for the Love deal.

Q: Recently, you mentioned Pat Riley's winning-or-misery perspective. One of the more enjoyable seasons in Miami Heat history was the team (2003-2004 season) the Heat had the year before Shaq came to Miami, with Lamar Odom, Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Eddie Jones, Dwayne Wade, Rafer Alston. The Heat won 18 of their last 19 games and there was a Friday night game in March against the Dallas Mavericks when Alston hit a 3-pointer with .5 seconds left in overtime to win the game. There was pandemonium and joy at AmericanAirlines Arena. Sheer joy and happiness. The Heat beat New Orleans in the playoffs, but lost to Indiana in the second round. Fans talked about the Miami Heat all summer. There will be plenty more exciting and fun nights at the AAA. -- S.R.

A: I remember Rafer's shot and that season. The difference is the Heat weren't yet a championship team at that stage. What the Heat need to convey this coming season is the type of charisma of that team. Basically, Bosh, McRoberts and others have to become embraceable. (It could be a bit tougher with Deng, who has an opt out after this season, with fans perhaps reluctant to bond with a player who soon could be gone, especially in light of James' departure.)



August 31, 2014

Q: Now the Clippers and Spurs, in addition to the Cavs (so called "elite teams"), are showing interest in signing Ray Allen. I hope Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade and their Heat teammates have a great season and make the Miami Heat an elite team. Somehow I remember that the minute Ray Allen came on the court for the Miami Heat last season, the opposing teams went right at Ray on defense, which contributed to the Heat's fall off on defense. -- Stuart.

A: But he also gave the Heat the single greatest moment in franchise history. The difference between LeBron James leaving and Dwyane Wade staying is that Ray already has shifted between teams, so it's not as if there is a definitive loyalty either to a certain team or certain town. Having already played in Seattle, Milwaukee, Boston and Miami, it's not as if another team would damage his legacy. And frankly, he likely could have more impact elsewhere. As for his defense, much of that was offset by attracting the attention of the opposition on offense, no matter his 3-point percentage. No matter how this ends with the Heat, he should always be remembered fondly for what he allowed the franchise to achieve.