March 3, 2015
Q: Should the Heat sign JaVale McGee? McGee with Hassan Whiteside and Birdman would give us the best shot-blocking front line in the league. Is there any way that rotation would work? Could either Chris Andersen or McGee play power forward alongside Whiteside? Is McGee athletic enough to defend the four spot? -- Kevin, New York.
A: Based on Saturday, when Chris Andersen was out and the Heat had to scramble for depth behind Whiteside, and then based on Monday, when Whiteside was ejected and all the Heat had otherwise in the middle was Birdman, I think adding another center would make plenty of sense, considering every single game likely will matter the balance of the season. When Birdman was out, the Heat had to start Henry Walker just so they could have Udonis Haslem available to play as the backup center. Basically, if Birdman and Whiteside are out, the Heat have no depth at center. The issue is that when Whiteside and Birdman are healthy, there wouldn't necessarily be minutes for another center, which would be an issue for McGee. But the Heat do need another big man and the $2.65 million disabled-player exception they hold for Josh McRoberts expires on March 10, so they also have the money, as well. It's a risk I would take, if McGee was interested. But if his goal is to get to a playoff team, the Heat's current position is tenuous in that regard. Of course, it also would require letting a player go, and the Heat have just extended a second 10-day contract to Walker.
Q: Is bringing in another player the answer or are the Heat better off tightening the rotation and hoping this group can figure it out? -- Chet.
A: And that's the flip side of the equation. The Heat already are working with a large group of new players at this late date and chemistry already is a major concern. Remember, the Heat's disabled-player exception can only be used for the balance of the season, not to build a multi-year deal. So anyone added at this point essentially would be a rental, unless the player accepts a minimum-scale deal. But to me, McGee or even Andray Blatche would be worth the risk because of the need for one more big man. But, again, who goes, since you can only keep 15, and it seems like just about every available player among the first 12 have contributed of late.
Q: Who knows how good the current group could be if they had started the season together? They show some signs these pieces could work, but not nearly enough. -- Bob.
A: Which is why some already are pointing to next season, when there could be a power rotation of Whiteside, Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts, greater cohesion between Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic, as well as a mid-level player to help on the wing. The Heat's 2015-16 prospects already are brighter than the current reality, provided Bosh returns next season.
March 2, 2015
Q: Ira, I watch every minute of every Heat game. Erik Spoelstra always has an excuse, and Dwyane Wade has more. Why is no one angry? -- Ed, Miami.
A: I don't think "anger" serves much of a purpose, but I do think there is ample disappointment. The reality this season is that Spoelstra tends to dissect specifics after the game, especially when he is seated at postgame interview table. (He tends to be more effusive on the road, amid the mayhem in the hallways outside the locker room.) I think what the Heat miss with Chris Bosh, beyond his contributions on the court, is his raw emotion after games in the locker room. Dwyane Wade tends to be much more evenhanded with his postgame analysis, and few others in the locker room seem to believe they have the right to speak up on such a veteran-dominated team. Bosh always was out there with his raw, visceral comments. When the Heat lost, he hurt, and he let you know. The Heat locker room right now is almost a group of strangers unwilling to step on toes. With Udonis Haslem so limited in his minutes, he only can say so much as co-captain. After the loss in New Orleans, I guarantee you, if Chris Bosh was involved, he would have condemned the effort, just as he did when the Heat lost in New Orleans last season. Someone needs to light a fire.
Q: The turnovers weren't on Deng. Playing him 40 minutes after playing him the night before is ridiculous? -- B.A.
A: And he certainly is being asked to do a lot, whether it is defending Eric Gordon on Friday night in New Orleans or the Hawks' Kyle Korver on Saturday night. If you go to games and have the opportunity to watch off the ball, the amount of effort Deng puts forward is impressive. There were plenty of factors that contributed to Saturday's loss beyond Deng's career-high eight turnovers. After keeping the Heat afloat in the previous two games, he could have used someone to step forward Saturday. That didn't happen. Because of that, it was difficult not to notice his stat line, with those eight turnovers and just one assist.
Q: So I guess the youth movement is over? -- Rick, Miami.
A: Any "movement" that is about anything beyond victory should be over at this stage, with the Heat hanging on by a thread at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff race, with the Heat now a half-game ahead of Indiana, Brooklyn and Charlotte, a single misstep from falling to 10th place. If Shabazz Napier, James Ennis or Tyler Johnson can offer something with their skill set, they should be called upon. But "development" has left the building (or should have, from this perspective).
March 1, 2015
Q: How come the Heat don't run their offense through Hassan Whiteside? I know it is a lot for a rookie. But if teams double-team him, then Luol Deng is open, Goran Dragic is open, Dwyane Wade is open, Henry Walker is open, someone is open! -- S.R.
A: First, he is not a rookie, actually in his third NBA season. Beyond that, he has not yet reached the level with his post play where he has required a double-team. He tends to either go directly to the basket on the catch, often for alley-oops, or quick hooks. There is not much there at the moment from a back-to-the basket standpoint. And yet, with all of that said, perhaps it's time to at least greater consideration to getting the ball to Whiteside inside. Yes, as Wade said after Saturday's game, the Hawks are notorious for packing the paint. But that's where a system and structure come into play. On nights such as Saturday, when nothing it dropping from outside, it would be nice to at least have an inside option. It's not something Udonis Haslem can give you anymore when he starts, not something undersized Henry Walker offers. But I also think we're past the Whiteside-as-novelty stage. He's for real, and that means keeping better track of getting him back in games, and going to him when he's in games.
Q: Erik Spoelstra only playing with eight players is not being a good coach. -- Conrad.