December 21, 2014
Q: To me, Mario Chalmers is a magician: He has a good game once every five or so and then disappears, poof! He shoots an occasional three, misses a ton of shots, very inconsistent and poof he is a starter! How does he do it? -- Stone, Miami.
A: Because the Heat's other options at point guard are Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier? The Heat arguably have the worst rotation at point guard in the league. So Erik Spoelstra has to try something. The reality is that Chalmers seemingly was playing well in his combo role off the bench, and essentially is remaining in such a role, coming out early in favor of Cole and then re-entering before the end of the first quarter in place of Dwyane Wade. When you think about it, the Heat have already demoted Napier to the D-League and demoted Cole from the starting lineup. It's as if they know what they don't have. The solution would be a D-and-three guard the Heat could play alongside Wade, since Wade lacks the quickness at his age to play point guard defensively. But Wade essentially has emerged as the Heat's offensive point guard, the way he has taken over getting the Heat into offense.
Q: The best trade option would be Norris Cole and whatever it takes for Dion Waiters. LeBron James gets to play with a point guard he likes, and we get a strong back up for Dwyane Wade so he can take days off (and not have to do 42 points on a nightly basis.) -- Nelson, Kendall.
A: Works for me. But I'm not sure it would work for the Cavaliers, who realize that Mike Miller, with his injuries, is not exactly a fulltime player.
Q: Although at the time it was generally considered another masterful job by Pat Riley, did Riles make a bad thing worse by signing Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts long term? When LeBron left, did we miss an opportunity to build a new foundation? -- Steve, Miami.
A: No, I like that he limited the long-term commitment to just two players, so there still is plenty of flexibility. And I think the Bosh-McRoberts pairing is intriguing, one that had precious little time on the court before the two were sidelined, McRoberts now likely for the season. As long as the two can make it work next season, I think it is a pairing that could prove intriguing to free agents, as well. Bosh has the look of a player whose game could age well.
December 20, 2014
Q: Tough loss Friday, but the silver lining is the upside of Hassan Whiteside. -- John.
A: I agree that it is nice to have young, active length. Chris Andersen does what he can, but you can see that he is limited, and starting minutes are a stretch at this stage of his career. Obviously foul trouble will be an issue, and the kid is still plenty raw, but I would go ahead and move Whiteside ahead of Justin Hamilton in the rotation. If he can rebound and block shots, he could wind up as a perfect complement to Chris Bosh. For all those who had been calling for a return of Khem Birch, Friday offered a glimpse into Whiteside's possibilities.
Q: What have Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole done to make Shabazz Napier not play? -- Ray.
A: You're missing the point. Chalmers and Cole have nothing to do with Napier. Napier is the one who decides whether he plays. And that means a better assist-to-turnover ratio, better on-ball defense, basically not being a liability in the minutes he's on the court. But against the level of competition of the Wizards, the Heat gave themselves a better shot by bypassing Napier on Friday night. Now, that doesn't mean there's not a place for him in the upcoming games against the Celtics and 76ers. The Cavaliers and Grizzlies? At this stage, that might be a different story.
Q: Ira, I wonder when are you going to start to criticize Erik Spoelstra? I understand that we have lot of injuries and lot of new players, but he keeps failing to get this team to even compete. In addition, the offense is the most predictable in the league. Give the ball to Dwyane Wade and set a pick and have everybody stand and watch if Wade can create offense, no ball or player movement. -- Gago, Los Angeles.
A: First, you can't judge the offense or anything without Chris Bosh on the court. And when Bosh has been on the court, he often has been the focus of the attack. The reality is that without Wade and Bosh together, this thing essentially grinds to a halt. Luol Deng had his moments Friday, but this team needs far better wing play. And the power rotation simply is not stocked with scorers. This is about way more than coaching. It also is about what the general manager and team president gave to the coach. A Danny Granger who actually plays would have come in handy this week.
December 19, 2014
Q: Dwyane Wade is scoring but over-dribbling. He is not young enough to beat a lot of guys off the dribble. The ball is therefore is not moving. We can and must do better. -- Leon, Miami.
A: You raise a good point about what transpired Wednesday night and why the rest of the Heat offense grew stagnant. The reality is that Wade is the Heat's best facilitator and might be the team's best point guard. But he also is not quick enough to play at point guard defensively. The best of all worlds would be to twin Wade with a defensive-minded three-and-D type of point guard. What happened Wednesday was four others standing around while Wade did his work in the post. The problem is that a player like Luol Deng needs to be able to complement by moving without the ball and receiving it as he makes his cuts. That didn't happen Wednesday, and Deng therefore became marginalized on a six-shot night. That's not Deng's fault; that's how he plays, reliant on others to facilitate his game. It's similar to what Chris Bosh spoke about earlier in the season, about how the Heat need the ball to move. Ten total assists never cut it. The Heat have to find a way to get the ball moving while, of course, also keeping Wade involved.