July 7, 2015
Q: I hope Goran Dragic, unlike me, isn't wondering about the up-tempo game the team was going to institute this coming season. In my view, unless there are some present roster changes, particularly the starting five looks primarily like a halfcourt-offense-oriented team. Here are some ideas: Reduce the minutes of Dwyane Wade, maybe eventually coming off the bench. Trade Chris Bosh, he has the most value if the question mark of the blood clot is negated, for faster, younger players at both forward positions and maybe a first-rounder. Trade Mario Chalmers, Shabazz Napier and Chris Andersen for picks and choose only the quicker and most effective players from the summer league and training camp. Perhaps it's all easier said than done. -- Joaquin.
A: This is an excellent question from your primary perspective. Watching Justise Winslow through the start of summer league, it appears as if he is more comfortable sizing up his man in the halfcourt. Wade certainly is the same way. And one of Bosh's strengths is playing in the halfcourt off the pick-and-roll. But you can't change out your entire roster because of your point guard. A happy medium could be utilizing a "speed" unit at times. But when factoring in Hassan Whiteside it sure seems as if the Heat are more geared to the halfcourt. Then again, Dragic is locked in for five years, so the Heat coaching staff again has the upper hand.
Q: Watching Winslow play, I see a lot of positive, but I don't like the form on his shot. At his size, he needs to shoot well from at least mid range. Your thoughts? -- Joel.
A: At this stage, he appears to be more scorer than shooter. And that's a concern, because when the real games start, the big men he's attacking in the paint will be bigger, faster, stronger and a whole lot longer. The shot is going to be essential. In Monday's summer-league victory over Detroit, there we plenty of clanks. I was surprised that Stanley Johnson's stroke was far truer.
Q: Josh Richardson looks like a Bruce Bowen type. He's a pest and I love it. He's going to frustrate a lot of players. -- Todd.
A: Although I continually caution with all such observations at this time of year that, "it's only summer league," I have to admit that he is one of the Heat's more intriguing second-round additions. While he can be out of control at times, he's less out of control than James Ennis. In Josh's case, all of his effort appears to result in productivity. I'm just not sure what his position is, and I don't necessarily think it's point guard.
July 6, 2015
Q: Although so much money is now tied up by the core players, the offseason signings of last year are still limiting Heat going forward. Chris Andersen's two-year deal, Josh McRoberts' long contract, and possibly even the deals of Udonis Haslem and Mario Chalmers' are contracts and ultimately roster spots that could be better utilized on/by other players. -- Nikki.
A: But it's all about the context of those deals. With Birdman, it was making good on a follow-up to the request of first having him play on two years of minimum salaries. With McRoberts, the acquisition was about utilizing him in a halfcourt offense, with the Heat now looking to play at a tempo possibly faster than his natural speed. With Haslem, it also was about making up for previous salary sacrifice, or at least restructuring his money in a more advantageous fashion for the team. And with Chalmers, it was about stability at a time when there was so much change. When the deals were signed, they were prudent for the moment. Now, everything has changed, which is why it makes sense for the Heat to be reconsidering everything that came before.
Q: If the Heat push a power rotation player out of the picture to alleviate some tax woes, do you think that Willie Reed will finally get a chance to play? His summer-league play has certainly been up to par. Or do you think the Heat would be better off with a veteran? -- Josh, Atlanta.
A: It depends whether the Heat think they need to add to the power rotation from a developmental standpoint or a win-now standpoint. Based on minimum salaries, or at least how they count against the cap and tax, Carlos Boozer basically would come at the same price as Reed. We know Pat Riley prefers veterans, but Reed's length could be an advantage. I also think we should reserve judgment on Reed until all three weeks of summer league are complete.
Q: Dear Ira, I am thrilled that Goran Dragic and Dwyane Wade signed and Luol Deng opted in. Still, there is only one addition to a team that failed to make the playoffs. He is a 19-year-old rookie, albeit very talented Justise Winslow. I know that we had a lot of health issues, but health and one 19-year-old will not get us to the Finals. Is this, and minimum salary vets no one else wanted, all we are doing to go from the lottery to the Finals? -- Jeffrey.
A: But this never was about additions. It was about Chris Bosh and the rest of the ailing players getting healthy. It was about having Goran and Hassan Whiteside in a training camp together for the first time. It was getting all these pieces together for the first time.
July 5, 2015
Q: Miami fans are going hard for Lou Williams on Twitter. He lives in Miami and seems to be interested. Any chance Miami could be interested and do a sign-and-trade to get him? Since Toronto needs a power forward, Josh McRoberts would be the perfect fit. Right? -- Tre, Lithonia, Ga.
A: I will say this: I like your thinking. I'm not talking specifically about Williams, although he would be quite a get, but rather the notion of a sign-and-trade to land a shooter while also excising potential duplication and unnecessary salary. While adding a player at the taxpayer mid-level could prove onerous against the luxury tax, a sign-and-trade could instead just shift salary to better use. Lou earned $5.4 million last season with the Raptors, so a sign-and-trade with McRoberts or even Chris Andersen could work. There are permutations where you could also do something involving Mario Chalmers. The good thing with the latter two is that Birdman and Chalmers would be on expiring contracts next season. But beyond all of that, the only way a sign-and-trade works is if the other party is interested in what you have to offer. But I do believe the Heat have players with sign-and-trade value.
Q: Were the Heat better off not striking a deal with LaMarcus Aldridge? His game is similar to Chris Bosh and Bosh is a better defender. I would have hated to give up Bosh or, worse, Justise Winslow to Portland for his services. I think the Heat are better off not having him at that price. -- Rodney, Sarasota.