ASK IRA: Do Heat have to rethink approach with Wade?
A: Tuesday was just rhetoric, although it sure seemed like if Pat Riley walked into the room, Chris would have signed on the dotted  line right there and then. LeBron is different. He wants assurances that he will have a livelier supporting cast next summer, and the best way to do that is to hold Riley to the fire, and probably opt out just to make the Heat sweat, and work on upgrades. As for Dwyane, I think the Finals left him with questions that even he can't answer. The best answer might have been the candor of that his body simply let him down. That's at least a place you could go to work from. But there is no mandate a player participate in the postseason media session, and several other Heat players bypassed the interviews,  as well. But you're right, it doesn't look good when LeBron and Bosh face the fire, and Wade is a no-show.

Q: Does Wade go from loved to hated if he doesn't rework his contract? -- Robert.

A: I've heard a lot of that, and that's just silly. At worst, Wade will be at the same place Dan Marino was at the end of his career, when Dolphins fans called for a replacement. And while it didn't end well for Marino, he remains a South Florida icon, one with his jersey hanging at AmericanAirlines Arena. Dwyane Wade's South Florida legacy is secure. And the only ones who should vilify him are the ones who walk into their own offices and tell their bosses to please take some of their salary back so potential replacement can be hired.

Q: Is Greg Oden coming back? -- Wilson.

A: I don't think so. I'm not sure the Heat believe he can work in their style, and I'm not sure Greg wants to go through another season stuck at the end of the bench. Erik Spoelstra's testimonial Tuesday was a lot more about praising Oden for the effort he made to return, rather than the efforts Oden made on the court. The reality is the Heat likely would be benefit more with Cole Aldrich next season than Oden.


June 17, 2014

Q: There needs to be a substantial overhaul of the Heat roster. Every position needs big improvement. They need to get younger. -- Erikk.

A: The Heat are in no position for substantial overhaul if LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh all return. That can't happen. What can happen is the three agree to opt out and then decide what outside players would be worthy of bringing in at a sacrifice of their own salaries. Essentially, it would be the Big Three in a room with Andy Elisburg's calculator trying to make the math work. For Carmelo Anthony, they might sacrifice a bunch. For Luol Deng, perhaps not so much. But there is little realistic possibility of them sacrificing for several smaller pieces. An overhaul would likely mean no more Big Three. James, Wade and Bosh hold all the cards, including how the roster is reshaped. And even then, it still will require efficient and effective veterans at the minimum salary.

Q: I have owned a piece of Heat season tickets since 1990 and have followed the NBA since 1960.  This Heat team of the last four years has been a remarkable team.  Under incredible scrutiny, LeBron always displayed class and he showed up every night to play, even those mid-winter games in Milwaukee.  To make the NBA Finals four years running is an achievement worth remembering. This year the streak ended against an incredible team that was motivated by last year's loss. Given the record for futility of other professional teams in South Florida, we should celebrate this team, the coaching staff and management, and hope that Pat Riley figures out how to evolve to face new challenges next year. -- Bob, North Palm Beach.

A: Well said. And worth saying. It has been exhilarating, exhausting, excruciating, but, ultimately, enjoyable. And it's not as if it's over yet. Eastern Conference champion might not have been the consolation prize sought, but it sure beats those 15-67 seasons.

Q: Am I the only one missing Joel Anthony after watching the terrible defense this season? -- Mike, Weston.

A: Yes.


June 16, 2014

Q: Same strategy; same results. Even you have to admit this series was not a good one for Erik Spoelstra. Yes the Spurs were better in every way, but the "Heat way" of doing things was exposed. -- Mack.

A: I honestly think with Chris Andersen a step slow, still clearly bothered by that thigh bruise sustained against the Pacers, with Dwyane Wade a shell of what he was the previous round, there wasn't much more Erik could have done, other than try to get the very best out of LeBron. He adjusted constantly in the series, perhaps even too much. But to give up on a system that helped you motor through the previous rounds would have been foolish at the outset of the Finals. And you could also see that he did not have as many quality pieces at his disposal as Gregg Popovich. Spoelstra eventually recognized he did not have a point guard, at all. And James Jones, Udonis Haslem, Michael Beasley only get you so far at this level.

Q: The Miami Heat spent their entire season in fourth or fifth gear and when it came time to flip that switch to get to the next gear, they didn't have it. Just as you have been saying for four seasons, playing the "we can flip the switch when we want" card is a dangerous game. -- George, Toronto.

A: And yet with the volume of games they have played these past four years, and with Dwyane Wade's iffy knees, who's to say that if they pushed hard throughout they even would have made these four Finals? Popovich didn't push too hard either, he just had more quality pieces at his disposal.

Q: Assuming the core of the team comes back, and a few pieces are added, do you see Erik Spoelstra adjusting to a more conservative approach defensively? The current system, while effective, is demanding and clearly takes a lot of effort and commitment. -- Daniel, North Palm Beach.