April 25, 2015
Q: In his exit interview, Pat Riley mentioned Mario Chalmers coming off the bench next year. I normally bite my tongue as there is nothing I can do about it. So please help me understand: Why do we continue to give Mario big minutes? Year after year the only thing I can count on with Chalmers is inconsistency. Why now count on him as a sixth-man, when this year was filled with the same: one good game and five bad ones? He comes into most games and quickly picks up multiple fouls, turns the ball over, gets beaten off the dribble and slows the offense down. He hits a three and all is forgotten. What am I missing and is anyone expecting his game to improve? -- Stone, Miami.
A: First, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to Mario's role next season, with the free-agent market to have a major say in the Heat's rotation next season. But, again, we're talking about a player earning less than the league average who has made some very big plays for this team at some very big times. And I think your ratio of good-to-bad is a bit skewed by the ones that truly go wrong. Based on what the Heat have at the moment, and what they have to spend this summer, Mario could very well again be cast as the first guard off the bench.
Q: Ira, Pat Riley is a legend's legend when it comes to all things NBA. But any NBA coach would not want to be micromanaged to the point of seeing said legend after every single game waiting in his office to rehash everything. Don't you think Riley needs to step aside and let his coach do just that without having the principal waiting to see him after every game? Surely after already having to explain every misstep to the media the last thing Erik Spoelstra wants to do is explain during losses, and I'm sure wins, as well, what worked and what didn't. Riley's press conference also sent some not-too-subtle grenades towards his coach as well. -- Brian, Fort Lauderdale.
A: That's not what Pat was saying. He was saying that he is there for Spoelstra after every home game and when Spoelstra needs someone to bounce ideas against. I can also tell you that Riley has made a point during practices and shootarounds to make it clear he stays off the court and out of coaching matters. And I can't recall any "grenades" toward Spoelstra, unlike last year, when he offered the "reinvent" quote. In fact, Riley went out of his way this time to downplay any notions of Spoelstra having to reinvent.
Q: Can teams who are not in the playoffs make trades now? -- Martin.
A: Yes, as long as all parties involved in the trade are no longer involved in the postseason. Such opportunities tend to be limited because it limits the pool of possibilities. Plus, most teams prefer to wait until after the draft lottery, which this year is May 19, in order to get a better sense of which teams draft when. The busiest trade period tends to be around the draft itself, which is June 25.
April 24, 2015
Q: Getting only one third-place vote for Defensive Player of the Year will be more motivation for Hassan Whiteside. Now he can go in saying, "Last season I only received one vote." -- Rubens.
A: I've never felt Hassan has lacked motivation, considering where he stood for the two seasons before joining the Heat. But it will be interesting to see if he can make a season-long impact as a rim-protector. A lot of that will be learning how to stay out of foul trouble, when to go for blocks, and when to sit back and protect the boards with his rebounding. The reality is the Heat don't know exactly what Whiteside will be over a full season, or even if he can maintain his focus over 82 games. But it's safe to say that if Whiteside reaches his potential that he should finish higher than this season's tie for 15th in the race for Defensive Player of the Year.
Q: I know there is a lot up in the air to make any decisions now (including Goran Dragic and the possible draft selection), but what are the odds the Heat trade Shabazz Napier? If Dragic re-signs, with Tyler Johnson and Mario Chalmers, if we don't get a first-round pick, we could trade Napier to get a pick in the first round. -- Jorge.
A: Considering how late Napier went in last year's first round, and how limited his contribution was this past season, I don't think there is much of a market. The Heat would be better off continuing to develop him, considering his limited hit against the cap as a late pick in the first round. If the Heat continue to prefer Chalmers as a third guard, then there still would be the potential for Napier to start the games Dragic is unable to play, since he is more of a point guard than Johnson.
Q: I have always been very curious about NBA player conditioning during the offseason and preseason. Notwithstanding top conditioning, we see injuries happen all the time to players on every NBA team. Do the Heat have their own conditioning program for all players which they discuss with each player (taking into account that younger players should be on a different conditioning program than a veteran player who has been in the league for a while) or do they just expect each player to undertake their own conditioning program during the offseason so that each player will on their own show up to the first pre-season practice in top condition? -- Michael, Miami.
A: The Heat offer year-round conditioning and training to their players, as well as year-round access to their workout facilities. I've always felt one of the issues has been players working with private or personal trainers in the offseason, some who think they have a better way of handling conditioning and training. While some are very good, some also work with different goals than the Heat have in mind. Through my experience, the players who arrive and stay in best shape, in the type of condition the Heat require, are those who work with the team as much as possible.
April 23, 2015
Q: I think with Rick Carlisle's statement on Rajon Rondo, we can assume that Rondo will be playing with Kobe Bryant. Goran Dragic's second-preferred destination was the Lakers. We can assume Miami is the clear cut favorite and maybe only destination. -- Julio
A: The one thing I learned after last summer is to assume absolutely nothing until pen is put to paper. And you have to wonder, after seeing what Rondo has looked like without Pierce, Garnett and Allen, is if that is the best investment of the Lakers' resources. While Rondo might want the Lakers, I wouldn't be surprised if the Lakers first make a pitch for Dragic. The reality is that I don't know how much of a market there will be for Rondo, especially at the price point he is expected to be looking at. I do agree, because of the simple math I had laid out, that a player at Dragic's age might find the Heat's possibilities too much to walk away from, especially with his brother under contract to the Heat. I agree the Dragic scenarios could be relatively simple. I think the Rondo situation could grow remarkably complex. Then again, the Knicks never have been shy about throwing money at whatever is available.
Q: With Luol Deng, isn't it fair to say that he may opt out for a multi-year deal elsewhere? -- Joe.