ASK IRA: Was Mike Miller Arison's lone slip-up?


 July 29, 2014

Q: Ira, kudos to Micky Arison with the classy way he addressed fans with his open letter. But I still don't understand how he could be so appreciative of "Heat Nation" and not understand how much Mike Miller meant to his team. That was a mistake, wasn't it? -- Ken.

A: Look, Micky has done plenty right for both his team's fans and his team's players. But the Miller decision, in retrospect, appears to have been premature. Of course it's always easy to look back, in retrospect, at what would have been. Had the Heat won the NBA Finals (perhaps if the Spurs didn't make it out of the West), then few, including LeBron James, would have been lamenting what Miller could have given them instead of savings on the luxury tax. My sense is Pat Riley wanted to hold on to Mike, but it was Micky's money, and therefore Micky's choice. LeBron got Arison and the Heat to add or re-sign plenty of players he favored.

Q: Although the wounds of LeBron James leaving are still raw, I hope now or some day in the future Heat fans can look fondly with great appreciation for what the Miami Heat accomplished the last four years the same way Joe Torre remembered his years with the Yankees with grace, dignity and fond memories. We had something special for four years. Now let's go out and beat LeBron and the Cavaliers next season. -- Stuart.

A: Time tends to heal most wounds. I'm still surprised to this day how publicly gracious the Heat have been toward Shaquille O'Neal after all Shaq pulled on the way out of Miami, including basically refusing to play.

Q: South Florida needs to put LeBron James in its rear view mirror like he did to it. -- J.K.

A: And that's the contrasting view. I think the sting will wear off soon enough. And LeBron remains one of the most compelling forces in the game, too big to ignore. Just as the after-stories about so many former Heat players remain relevant, I think the same will be true of LeBron.



 July 28, 2014

Q: Hey Ira, do you think Pat Riley has another trick under his sleeve? I know Chris Bosh hasn't officially signed his contract yet and he was willing to take a pay cut before. Do you think he can still take a little less pay before he signs and Miami can land another key name? -- Vince, North Carolina.

A: Chris hasn't signed because he hasn't been around, spending much of July traveling overseas. But his deal is done, and done at a figure high enough that he bypassed the temptation of playing alongside Dwight Howard and James Harden in his native Texas. No, Chris will get his, all of his. Plus, the way the Heat used their "room" salary-cap exception on Udonis Haslem and early-Bird Rights on Chris Andersen, there would not be additional money to spend no matter what Chris signs for. In essence, the Heat had to bring in Luol Deng at the exact figure of space left under the cap with Bosh's contract. So if Chris were to have taken less, it would have gone to Deng, anyway. Basically what you see is what you will get.

Q: Ira, I am still missing something in the cap code. So you say the Heat used cap space for Deng, so basically there is none left now. Can they still opt to go over the cap and pay the luxury tax? -- Glen, Lighthouse Point.

A: No, teams most often go over the tax during years when they're already operating above the salary cap and either using additional exceptions (none of which the Heat have left at their disposal for 2014-15) or make trades to take on additional salary (which the Heat cannot do until Dec. 15, when contracts signed this offseason can be traded). The Heat could become a tax team as soon as the 2015-16 season, or earlier should they trade one of their big-ticket players for either a bigger-ticket player or multiple players this season (which seems unlikely considering the magnitude of Bosh's contract and Dwyane Wade's no-trade clause). It's not a matter of if the Heat are willing to pay the tax for the upcoming season, it's the reality that under cap rules they essentially can't lift their 2014-15 payroll to such levels.

Q: Ira, the final free-agent pieces for the Heat could be Emeka Okafor (if healthy) and Jordan Crawford for insurance at center and shooting guard. Any thoughts if they could be gotten at minimums? -- Howard, Palm City.

A: Not at this point, not with teams still holding cap space and salary-cap exceptions in excess of $4 million and $5 million. This is why free-agency has slowed to a crawl, which could remain the case for a while, as is the case every summer.



 July 27, 2014

Q: Ira, how long will it take Pat Riley to pick up any players? Jordan Crawford is still out there and MarShon Brooks. -- Joe, Birmingham, Alabama.