March 29, 2015
Q: Don't the Miami Heat have to show Goran Dragic they are committed to running more on offense next season? I don't think he is a lock to return to Miami, not because of the Heat's tough season, but because of the Heat's style of play. It seems like teams in the Western Conference can show Dragic they are more committed to playing a style more suited to his preference. -- Stuart.
A: I totally agree. When I looked at his stat line from Friday's game and saw he only had six points, I had the same reaction, that the Heat are running an offense that is not necessarily conducive to his skills, and that another team that prizes him in free agency might make more of a commitment to his game. With the Heat, it seems like if he doesn't score in transition, that he is just one of an equal number of options in the offense, like Friday, when three teammates, with Henry Walker again among them, getting more shots. If Dwyane Wade wants to keep Dragic happy and keep him as a teammate, it might not be a bad idea to defer to him every now and then.
Q: I go back and forth about the Heat making the playoffs. Worst case would be not to make the playoffs but finish not in top 10 of draft and no draft pick. I feel for long term, getting a good, shooting athletic wing who can hit the three and defend would help them the most and also not be a big cap hit. So although it hurts as a Heat fan, I think I am hoping for the draft. -- Carl, Fort Myers.
A: I'm just not sure in the how-low-can-you go Eastern Conference playoff race that the Heat can assure themselves of being in the bottom 10. That ship might have sailed. Of course if they declare Wade out for the season with fluid on his knee, that's another story. And again, even one of the 10 worst records doesn't assure the Heat of keeping the pick, since a team still could leap-frog them in the lottery. And beyond all of that, it's not as if the commitment to the 76ers becomes extinguished. So my thought remains that it is best to get out of the commitment as soon as possible and then move ahead with a clean slate when it comes to the pick first dealt as payment in the 2010 LeBron James sign-and-trade with the Cavaliers (then through Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade, and to Philadelphia in the Thaddeus Young deal).
Q: Ira, do you think we should have called a center up with Hassan Whiteside out? -- Katy.
A: While I had been against another roster move at this late stage due to continuity, if Whiteside is going to miss appreciable time (and the Heat need to get a read on that ASAP) and with Chris Andersen banged up, then you would think it practically would be an obligation to the rest of the roster to have more in the middle. But the flip side remains the issue of who would be released, with the Heat committed to the development of many of those end-of-bench prospects (although the Zoran Dragic situation certainly is curious).
March 28, 2015
Q: Packing the paint is the new defensive strategy against the Heat. -- Mark.
A: I agree that non-Henry Walker floor-spacers have to be a priority in the offseason. So much of what the Heat did/do is based on spacing the floor with the type of 3-point shooters who used to be in abundance. Now it's basically Luol Deng and Goran Dragic or bust, and both are more valuable to the Heat when they're doing other things, whether it is Deng cutting without the ball or Dragic attacking the rim with the ball. The volume of 3-pointers in Friday's 99-86 loss in Atlanta was nothing short of absurd, with the Heat 11 of 35 from beyond the arc. While the Heat seemed to tire of one-trick types like James Jones, there is something to be said about having someone like that (like the Hawks have in Kyle Korver) to play off of the post game of Hassan Whiteside and the penetration of Dwyane Wade and Dragic. I'm pretty sure they still have Ray Allen's phone number. There also has to be a realization that the 3-point shots are open for a reason. And there has to be an offensive system capable of getting more than 3-point shots. Of course continuity has plenty to do with any offensive system. Without available post players (with no Hassan Whiteside, Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts) any chance of vertical spacing is lost.
Q: Ira, with Kevin Durant's surgery, would teams move up and spend this summer? Instead of 2016, could they look at Goran Dragic? -- Emily.
A: First, I don't think anyone but the Thunder or his hometown Wizards ever were in the running for Durant in 2016. Actually, I think more teams could be in play for Durant in 2016 now, with a team that otherwise might not have had a shot now stepping up and still offering a max-level contract, even amid the uncertainly with this latest surgery. But 2016 always was about more than Durant. It was about the massive amount of salary-cap space that will come into play before of the new broadcast deals. That's not to say Dragic is necessary a lock with the Heat, who could find themselves on pins and needles for the second consecutive July. In games such as Friday's, it's concerning how the Heat weren't able to get Dragic more involved. Three teammates had more than his 11 shots,
Q: When will out bad luck with injuries end? -- Mel.
A: Well, as Erik Spoelstra said before Friday's game against Atlanta, it always could be worse. The Heat are confident Chris Bosh will be back next season. The Thunder can't be as sure with Durant. Of course now there are renewed concerns with Wade's knees. And that significantly raises the level of worry.
March 27, 2015
Q: I just don't understand why Tyler Johnson is not part of the regular rotation? Have him back up Dwyane Wade at shooting guard. Have Mario Chalmers back up Goran Dragic at point guard. Then go with the hot hand down the stretch. -- Carlos, Miami.
A: While Johnson often has been dynamic when given opportunities in limited bursts, his energy sometimes can also, at least at this stage of his career, make him a mistake player. And with the Heat's margin for error so limited, it is among the reasons why his opportunities have been limited. Beyond that, the Heat have been at their best when playing a three-guard rotation with Wade, Dragic and Chalmers. And the reality with Chalmers is that he has been far better when playing in attack mode, more as a shooting guard, the type of role you have suggested for Johnson. As in the playoffs, this is the time of season when teams in the heart of the playoff race tighten their rotations. So, for now, Johnson likely remains on the outside of that rotation, unless one of the primary guards is sidelined, as was the case Wednesday in Boston. But if the Heat can afford to play small, I do think Johnson could make sense in the games when Michael Beasley is off with his shot or his offense.
Q: Michael Beasley didn't do well in the last two games, but come on, Ira, this team needs someone who can create his own shot. Where is the patience you preached when Henry Walker's shots weren't falling? -- Patrick, Hollywood.