May 30, 2015
Q: 1. Is it time for the Heat to move on from Mario Chalmers? I've rooted for the guy since he entered the league. He has been a starter on four Finals teams, knows the Heat system, can play both guard positions and is on a very reasonable contract. The problem is that he has reached his potential and will probably never be a consistent player. Isn't it time for the Heat to turn to a younger player who a has the potential to offer more consistency and possibly a higher ceiling? 2. How much of the Dwyane Wade contract chatter stems from the fact that people expect Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside to land big contracts despite not even playing a full season for the Heat? 3. Setting aside all of the conspiracy theories about what LeBron James might have whispered into Wade's ear earlier this season, Cleveland does make sense as a potential landing spot if Wade leaves. After all, there aren't many teams who would throw a big, long-term contract at Wade, but if LeBron instructs Dan Gilbert to sign him, it will happen. -- David.
A: I guess it's not multiple choice when it comes to which I answer, so here goes: 1. Deciding on whether to move Mario could depend on if the Heat can draft a Chalmers replacement. But even then, his contract is reasonable and expires after next season, so he would remain cost effective. Plus, he's now coming off a knee procedure, not exactly the best way to get trade value for a player. 2. I think the salary structure is something that very much has Wade's attention. By the start of the 2016-17 season, based on some of the projected salaries, Dwyane could the fourth-highest-paid player on the Heat, behind Chris Bosh, Dragic and Whiteside. I think that's a reality that has to be hard to stomach. 3. As for Wade to Cleveland, the Cavs won't have the cap space close to what Wade wants unless Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson both leave for nothing in return. And even then, it would be for less than Wade would get from the Heat. With Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, Iman Sumpert and Matthew Dellavedova, backcourt help hardly is a need for the Cavaliers, especially with LeBron doing much of the ballhandling.
Q: Why is it assumed/predetermined that Miami will sign Dragic at max money? Isn't $100 million over five years way over market value? Kyle Lowry is a point guard with similar success and only received $48 million over four years last offseason. What team is going to invest $20 million a year to sign him? He would not fit the triangle with Knicks for max money. The Lakers have Jordan Clarkson and would be smart if they held on to money for 2016. Dallas would be a good spot for him, but they have been bargain shoppers for a while. What am I missing? Thank you. -- Brandon.
A: Why would the Heat go so high? Because Pat Riley gave up two potential lottery picks to the Suns for Dragic and Dragic's representation knows that. They have the Heat over a barrel, unless there was a gentlemen's agreement in place before Riley made the trade, to get a new contract done at a specific price point. As it is, Goran spoke after the season about the extra money the Heat could give him because of his Bird Rights, which actually would be $116 million over five years.
Q: Tom Thibodeau as a defensive special assistant to Erik Spoelstra? It helps the Heat return to a defensive mentality, it gives him a year off from head coaching, and time for him to get a new gig in a year or two. -- David.
A: Thibs is at a point in his career where he doesn't have to work for anyone on the sideline. His next coaching assignment will be as a head coach.
May 29, 2015
Q: First of all, I want to quickly say I love Dwyane Wade both for what he has done on the court and for my community since 2003. I look up to him as the "Best In The World," as Pat Riley would put it. With that said, how much leverage do you really think he has? I get the whole Heat Lifer aspect of it, but do you really think a team would be willing to extend an expensive, long-term contract for an aging superstar with injury concerns? I just don't see a team paying him more than the $16 million option he has for next season. Wade has always been the one to sacrifice and certainly deserves a commitment from us, but it's in both our interests to wait until 2016 to address that, right? -- Arturo, Miami.
A: The more I thought about Dwyane's situation, the more I realized he has to opt out. It only makes sense. At worst, he gets another two-year deal with the second at his option. That protects him for another season in case of injury in 2015-16. Then, if Pat Riley comes up a master plan and can put the Heat into championship contention in 2016 free agency, Wade can work with the Heat in 2016 free agency, just as he tried to work with them in 2014 free agency, before it all went so horribly wrong (for the Heat) with LeBron's decision. If Wade doesn't opt out, and goes into the final year of his contract, he will have no protect for even one additional season. Expect another opt out and then resolution in July instead of June.
Q: All of this talk about Dwyane Wade possibly leaving is painful. This just seems crazy after all that the Heat and Wade have been through. As a Heat Lifer, I might just go into a deep, dark coma if Wade ever left. Also, does what LeBron James said to Wade on Christmas now have some meaning, about doing bigger and better things? If Wade went to Cleveland, Miami might not ever recover. Thanks. -- Daniel, Coral Springs.
A: So we've gone from preliminary contract talks to a Wade-LeBron reunion in Cleveland? I still don't see an outside teams offering Wade the type of money he can receive from the Heat, because of Bird Rights. And I'm not sure any team would even want to spend to such a level in advance of 2016 free agency.
Q: Say it isn't so! Is the Dwayne Wade era in Miami coming to an end? I am not sure it is about the money. Maybe he wants a fresh start. Look what it did for his friend, LeBron James. What about Dwayne Wade to Chicago (he goes home, great story, new atmosphere and plays with Pau Gasol. (The Bulls' style is more suited to Dwayne's game.) The Bulls trade Derrick Rose (him and Jimmy Butler can't co-exist) to a team that needs a superstar and the Heat work a deal to get back a few pieces with versatility that fit nicely into an up-tempo game? -- Stuart.
A: So we go from a player a month away from an opt-out to a three-team trade with a prime Heat rival. Or do we instead perhaps exhale?
May 28, 2015
Q: I hate to burst the bubble. OK, sure it's in line to please and lure Goran Dragic to come back. But is the current Heat personnel really equipped to play faster? With an aging Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng, and two casual-moving bigs in Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside as potential starters, is playing faster really a reality or a perfect formula for this team to succeed? -- Ryan, Naples.
A: First, you're right that when it comes to free agency, you say what needs to be said, you get that signature on paper, and then you consider the team's overall greater good. Then again, there aren't too many coaches who don't go into camp stressing a running game, something Erik Spoelstra has done for years. Actually, I think this team can run. It was only two years ago that Wade was taking touchdown passes from LeBron James for easy scores. And Whiteside's rim runs are exactly what a ball-pushing point guard wants to see. It's not always about sheer speed. It's about committing to play in transition, quickly shifting from defense to offense. And that's where Deng's cuts can help. This team, especially with the rebounding of Whiteside, should be capable of running. Will they? That's as much up to the players' will as the coaches. It is possible. And it's also up to Dragic to make it happen. If he wants it, he has to get it.
Q: I'm a Pat Riley disciple for more years than I care to admit except when it comes to international players. And I think he is coming around to my thoughts with Dragic. Simply, the international system does a much better job in producing players who are fundamentally sound, and not just made for ESPN highlights. Our country will always produce the elite prospects based on sheer volume of players. However, our AAU system is destroying basketball players and making them brands. That being said, is there any chance that Mario Hezonja drops to 10? A 6-8 wing with range from the Barcelona system could help significantly off the bench. -- Nick, Brooklyn.