ASK IRA: Is Heat depth still lacking?
Q: Ira, I've been trying to guess what Pat Riley is planning in regards to the two remaining roster spots, but I haven't been able to. I don't believe we will trade for a shooting guard from the Knicks, but if we going for wings and bigs why not sign Andray Blatche and Toure Murray? -- Jorge, Los Angeles.

A: Look, the back-story issues with Blatche have been well-chronicled, or else the Wizards wouldn't have let him walk in the first place and the Nets wouldn't have been as lukewarm on a return. Just about every time I've seen him play, I've seen a player who can make an NBA contribution. But there also is the issue of the Heat only having the minimum left to pay. Plus if Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Chris Andersen are going to comprise the primary power rotation, there is the issue of minutes. Still, Blatche would make this current Heat roster better, no doubt. As for Murray, the Heat looked at him recently in Las Vegas and did not feel compelled to make an immediate move. The Knicks' shooting guard you mention I assume is Iman Shumpert, and what that situation shows is that plenty can remain fluid before both the start of camp and the start of the season.

Q: Ira, what about our 3-point threat? We don't seem to have one now, just Bosh and Mario Chalmers. Don't we need an addition there? -- Michael.

A: Yes, but such specialists usually can be had later in the process. Plus, McRoberts also will be a factor beyond the arc, and Norris Cole has shown the ability, as well. While 3-point threats help create spacing, what it's most about is an offense that creates high-efficiency looks, something the Heat will try to achieve by creating movement toward the rim. But the 3-point issue also is one where I believe Michael Beasley could still help.

Q: Ira, I'm writing to challenge what has somehow has become the prevailing notion that the Heat are now Bosh's team. As a fan, this strikes me as disrespectful to the greatest player in franchise history, as if we're discussing a transfer of custodianship for him in his old age. As a reporter, I see it as poor journalism (the notion seems to be based only on Bosh's contract and Dwyane Wade's Finals play, after Wade has been the superior player for their entire careers). But, mostly, it makes no sense from a basketball perspective, because the Heat need a primary creator for himself and others, what LeBron James did for the last three years and Wade did for his first eight. Bosh isn't a playmaker. And even if the Heat did design the offense around Bosh, it won't play out that way on the court because if Wade is remotely healthy, he's simply a better player -- Jeff. Middleton, Conn.

A: Using that argument, only perimeter creators could be considered the best players on their teams. I don't agree with that, even in today's wing-oriented NBA. Plus, Bosh has shown a far greater durability and consistency than Dwyane in recent years. But where I think you're getting caught up is the notion that it has to be either/or. But Bosh and Wade have to be at the top of their games for the Heat to contend this season. They have to develop a symbiosis that has not been there during the LeBron years. If Dwyane is not closer to his former self, then there is a good chance Bosh will become overwhelmed. And if Bosh does not command double-teams, then Dwyane is going to have to deal with double- and triple-teams. No, this is not Bosh's team. And it's not Wade's team. It's the Bosh-Wade Heat (with a little help from their friends).



 August 3, 2014

Q: First, I want to extend best thoughts and wishes to Paul George and a full recovery from his leg injury. Never like to see any competitor get hurt. Business-wise, does this open the door for a Heat return to the Finals? -- Harold, Wellington.

A: First, what matters most at this stage, of course, is Paul's health. Here was someone playing for his country, going above and beyond. No one deserves what he experienced. It certainly also will give teams pause about their stars competing in the NBA's annual offseason grinders, in what has become more about marketing than patriotism. What has gotten lost in the concerns about the Pacers' standing in the East is that Indiana already had lost Lance Stephenson, forced to replace him on the cheap with Rodney Stuckey. Even before George's injury, Indiana looked like it was going to fall somewhere behind the Bulls, Cavaliers (assuming Kevin Love is in place) and in the pack with the Heat, Wizards and Raptors. Now Indiana could be in a struggle just to make the playoffs, with David West having to do far more at his age than he ever could have imagined. And even with an injured-player exception, it's not as if the Pacers have the wherewithal to make free-agent bid for Eric Bledsoe or Greg Monroe. The irony is that the Pacers certainly could use Danny Granger these days.

Q: Ira, is Shawne Williams better than Michael Beasley? Does Pat Riley know something we don't? If so please tell us. -- Karl, Kapaa, Hawaii

A: Pat Riley always knows something we don't (including what you had for breakfast this morning). And that's the thing, the Heat were well aware of Williams' workouts and how he had attracted interest from numerous teams. As Steve Kyler of Basketball Insiders posted on Twitter, "Shawne Williams had been training at IMG Academy with Dan Barto, word was he looks great likely why Miami taking a chance on him." While the Heat share little about their evaluations, they have been looked at myriad players this summer, including a look at Toure Murry while they were involved in summer league in Las Vegas. As for Beasley, I remain for them bringing him back.

Q: Why another forward? The 1-4 spots are full, yet they get Shawne Williams instead of a center that we need. Why haven't Greg Oden or Andray Blatche been pursued? -- Chata, Virginia Gardens.

A: What's interesting is Blatche has been working out in Miami with the Philippines national team, so there has been recent proximity. Whether Blatche would be amenable to the minimum salary is another story.



 August 2, 2014

Q: Ira, I like what I heard -- a lot -- from Dwyane Wade about his plans after LeBron James left. He looks in better shape, with a chip on his shoulder. Heat fans still remember what he can do without LeBron. Maybe we haven't see the last of Flash. -- Tom.

A: Actually, Dwyane was quick to caution at his fantasy camp that those days, his do-it-by-himself days, are over. And that's fine, because when Wade was doing it on his own in the immediate years before LeBron arrived, the Heat were nothing more than a one-and-done playoff team when it came to first-round exits. In Chris Bosh, Dwyane has a better supporting star than he had in any of his pre-LeBron days (an argument could be made for Shaquille O'Neal, but his descent was rapid with the Heat). What the Heat need is a Wade with the maturity to play off Bosh (and Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng), as well as a Wade who can be there just about every night for his teammates. His candor Friday was refreshing, as was his perspective of not looking back at the loss of LeBron, but rather at what's ahead.

Q: Ira, am I the only one who thinks the Heat may actually be a better team this year than last?  I think the loss of James will lead to increased production from Wade, Mario Chalmers and Bosh. I also think the free agents Pat Riley picked up are likely upgrades over last year's bench.  Lastly, I think Erik Spoelstra will have more of an opportunity to coach this year without the burden of keeping James content. I have visions of watching our point guard bring the ball up court to a team where everyone is now an option. I am actually more excited about the coming season than I have been in quite a while. -- Brian, Mount Vernon, Wash.

A: Yes, you are the only one who thinks the Heat will be better with LeBron. Even for the biggest of optimists, that's a stretch. Will they be more interesting? More intriguing? Perhaps. No team loses LeBron James and is better.