A: Your pro-Wade passion is laudable, and I can't say misguided. But Dwyane has a lot of wear on him, has missed a lot of games these past few seasons. Even he recognizes that his high-flying game can't necessarily withstand go-to demands every night. He is among those who have pushed Bosh to do more, expect more. Of course, what matters is what it looks like on the floor, and if Wade can recapture his previous magic, I'm sure Bosh gladly would defer. For the Heat, it basically comes down to that either Bosh or Wade, or both, have to be at the top of their games for the team to succeed. Bosh was the bigger difference-maker during the opener. Perhaps Saturday in Philadelphia will be Wade's turn. But it just seems a bit easier at the moment for Bosh to be able to make the difference.
Q: Even if the Heat give Norris Cole an extension, wouldn't that still be relatively cheap labor? It seems that with this CBA it is critical to find players that produce on small contracts. -- Juan, Denver.
A: But relatively speaking, a few million dollars in 2016 could be the difference between executing a 2010-like makeover or coming up short. To a degree, the timing just isn't right, with the Heat still trying to get a read on where Shabazz Napier is headed and whether Mario Chalmers can spend these next two seasons as an efficient backup shooting guard. Remember, while the Heat can't give Cole a rookie-scale extension beyond Friday, they still could build an extension at any time this season off his current contract. It's a complex issue both in terms of timing and mechanisms. But I also wouldn't be surprised if Wednesday doesn't get the Heat to at least think of getting this settled sooner rather than later.
Q: The Heat played the entire 48 minutes of a regular-season game with a fire and passion not seen in four years. -- F.L.
A: I don't know about that. And there were some lulls against a shorthanded Wizards roster. But that's what this season has to be about. The Heat might get away with a few lulls Saturday against the D-League 76ers, but the same type of effort as Wednesday will be needed Sunday when the Raptors visit.
October 29, 2014
Q: If Norris Cole is good enough to start, shouldn't he be good enough to get an extension? -- Cliff.
A: We'll know that answer before the weekend, with Friday the deadline for extensions for players from Cole's rookie class. But this also could be a matter of the difference between the short run at the long view. For the moment, Cole is as good as it gets at point guard, at least for what Erik Spoelstra needs. But anything more than a one-year extension -- and any extension would be for more than one year -- would cut into the Heat's 2016 cap space, and I'm not sure Pat Riley wants to go there. Also, there is the question of Shabazz Napier's development, and whether he could develop into a long-term answer at point guard. Should the Heat bypass an extension for Cole, he still would be a restricted free agent next summer, so the Heat still would have a degree of control then. Plus, the Heat already have Mario Chalmers and Napier under contractual control for 2015-16.
Q: Josh McRoberts is on the seventh-to-ninth best player on the roster. I rate James Ennis and Napier already ahead of him. -- Aura.
A: You sort of should hope not, and with no offense to Ennis or Napier. McRoberts is a key component to the Heat's rebuild, the only player other than Chris Bosh with more than two seasons on his contract. While he's been out of sight for the preseason doesn't mean he's been out of mind. The Heat's long view this season includes McRoberts' outside shooting and ball movement. While Shawne Williams has had his moments as a placement starter, when McRoberts returns from his offseason toe surgery, I think you'll see the other starters getting better looks because of his passing, particularly Luol Deng. Only then can the Heat get a true read on what they have, while also figuring out the best way to then utilize Williams. The Heat will open the season very much as a work in progress.
Q: How many minutes do you think James Ennis would receive during the regular season? Is he a worthy sleeper pick for fantasy basketball or do you think Erik Spoelstra is going stash him on the end of the bench for this season? -- Paul, Atlanta.
A: If things go the way the Heat want, which includes a revival from Danny Granger, then I don't think you will be seeing much of James early in the season. But if Dwyane Wade is limited in his appearances or if the Heat offense grows stagnant, then I could see him as the next man up. It looks like, to start the season, the Heat's rotation will feature the starting five of Chris Bosh, Williams, Deng, Wade and Cole, with Chalmers, Granger and Chris Andersen, in some order, as the next three off the bench. From there, it could all be situational.
October 28, 2014
Q: Ira, why would the Heat put Andre Dawkins on the inactive list when they might need shooting against the Wizards? -- Brad.
A: There is no such thing as an "inactive list" until an hour before a game. When NBA teams list their rosters at the end of camp, there only are 13 spaces for "active" players; so two are listed as "inactive." But it doesn't matter. Those players are as eligible as anyone else until a decision is made on game nights. It used to be that "inactive" players had to miss a set number of games. Now 13 can be selected shortly before the opening tip. And if another player beyond Josh McRoberts should be injured or be ailing, then the Heat could move Brown to the active list Wednesday. The rule simply is that no more than 13 players can be in uniform on game night. Erik Spoelstra rarely tips his "inactive" hand until just before tipoff; he certainly did not set it in stone 50 hours early.
Q: Shouldn't this season really be about developing some future, young, cheap talent? Shannon Brown had better be a difference maker, let's hope. -- Chet.
A: No. Every season with Pat Riley, Micky Arison and the "Heat culture" is about winning. If players can be developed along the way, all the better. The Heat might not be saying it publicly, but I believe there is thought within the organization that 50 wins is not out of the question. And with the Heat having distanced themselves (or LeBron James having done that for them) from the luxury tax, the dollar-and-cents element of the equation is not nearly the concern that it previously had been.