August 5, 2014
Q: Ira, I know the East is wide open and great games are on our way, but do you think with Kevin Love being added to LeBron James, Kyrie Irving that the Cavaliers would become the biggest force by far in the East? Could Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh compete with this Cavs' team for a trip to the Finals? -- Murilo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
A: First, I'm not so sure I wouldn't take the Bulls over the Cavs, even with Kevin Love in Cleveland, because of what Tom Thibodeau has proven, and what David Blatt has not. While the Cavs are building toward something, the Bulls are almost in make-or-break mode with Derrick Rose coming back and with the short-term purchase of Pau Gasol. As for the Heat, I still think they could stack up against LeBron's Cavaliers only because Love and Kyrie Irving hardly are known for their defense. And that will be an issue in Cleveland.
Q: Paul George's injury is just another reminder of how lucky we were in Miami the last four years. Wishing Paul George a speedy recovery. That is a devastating injury. -- Stuart.
A: Good point. And that's what the NBA is all about, health. For all the concerns about the Heat not developing enough depth in recent seasons, consider how heavily the Pacers relied on their starting five the past two season, and how dramatically different it will be for them this season without George or Lance Stephenson.
Q: When are you guys going to stop writing about players that are no longer with the Heat. Let's move on. -- Jerry, Miami.
A: As long as Heat free agents such as Ray Allen, Michael Beasley and Greg Oden remain unsigned they deserve coverage from a Heat perspective. Each of the three could add an element the current Heat roster lacks.
August 4, 2014
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.