Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)



October 21, 2014

Q: Why keep Justin Hamilton? He may be able to shoot, but I just see it as paying a big man to sit. I think the Heat are OK at the power positions and need more athletic players. Come to your senses. -- Wuloo.

A: First the moment, Hamilton offers more bulk than any player on the Heat roster. And there is something intriguing about a stretch five. But remember, Hamilton only has a partially guaranteed contract, with the next guarantee date on Dec. 1. So there still is time to see how or it he fits in with the current power mix. The reality is that Chris Bosh and Chris Andersen set up first- and second-string at center, and Josh McRoberts and Shawne Williams set up first- and second-string at power forward, so that doesn't even get into minutes for Udonis Haslem, or minutes that Danny Granger or Luol might take in the power rotation. But with all of those names, bulk is lacking. Being big, at the moment, might be Hamilton's most significant Heat asset (and having six fouls available whenever called  upon).

Q: Shabazz Napier may be short, but he will be head and shoulders better than Norris Cole or Mario Chalmers. -- Steven.

A: Look, the problem in the NBA is that when you're as slight as Shabazz, it's difficult not to get pin-balled out of position by a series of screens. To his credit, Napier has shown enough awareness to this point to largely avoid those situations. But the reality is that it is easier to rub off a lighter player. The thing about Shabazz is I think that he already is a mature player, and while he obviously needs to learn the game, he might otherwise be as ready to start now as he ever will be. The question comes down to whether Erik Spoelstra feels he can take such a risk with a neophyte at a time when the Heat very much remain committed to a playoff run.

Q: Are media members actually buying LeBron James' contrived act of "going home," tempering expectations, trying to keep a low profile? -- Brian.

A: Yes, seemingly everywhere beyond the 305, 786, 954 and 561 that's exactly what's happening. And let's face it, LeBron's people are doing a masterful job of casting it that way. It is the exact same political spin that will be filling our television programming now through the first Tuesday of November. It's as if LeBron met Karl Rove.



October 20, 2014

Q: Both Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier have to play, almost for the same reason: Pat Riley has to see what he has. So where does Mario Chalmers fit in? -- Al, Coral Gables.

A: It's sort of shocking how the outlook has changed regarding a player who started on two NBA championship teams. It's almost as if Chalmers has been penalized by the lack of depth at shooting guard behind Dwyane Wade. I'm wondering if the Norris Cole-as-starter experiment hasn't been part of a showcase, to potentially move him before having to consider his Oct. 31 rookie-scale extension deadline. Based on how Napier has played, I think starting Chalmers at the point (which I've always thought would be the case) and having Napier off the bench (until he is ready for the next step) is the best fit. Now the question is what kind of value is Cole perceived as having?

Q: Tyler Johnson seems to have energy and explosion. What are the chances of the Heat taking a look at him for the roster? It would be nice to have some youth and explosion. -- Diaz, Miami

A: Both Tyler Johnson and Andre Dawkins are intriguing. And with both somewhat undersized as swing guards, it is another reason why a thinning of the ranks at point guard might benefit the Heat. At the moment (unless the Heat otherwise opt to keep the rebounding of Khem Birch), the Heat would have room for Johnson or Dawkins. The question become how many guards on the slight side the Heat can afford to keep.

Q: Do you think Danny Granger will actually help the Heat this year, or just take up a roster spot? -- Mike.

A: There is plenty of room on this roster for Granger, and plenty of need for someone of his veteran pedigree. Once Wade makes the expected upgrade with his play, and once the offense and approaches become better defined, Granger should be fine as both a sixth man and someone who can bide time as James Ennis rounds out into a more polished prospect.



October 19, 2014

Q: So it seems that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh want to see Shabazz Napier get playing time, too. When can Pat Riley work out a trade for Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole? It would be a shame to lose Cole. -- Chet.