Q: Ira, can you please go through salary cap permutations required to sign Eric Bledsoe in a sign-and-trade, if possible at all? -- Blake, Houston.
August 12, 2014
Q: Good morning, Ira. Does Heat management want Ray Allen back? Are they reaching out to him? He closed on a home during the season, and I got the feeling he liked South Florida. Could he be in a Heat uniform next season? -- Cheryl, Fort Lauderdale.
A: When I spoke to Ray last season about a decision to continue playing, he told me he wished he could wait until September every year for such a confirmation, since that is when he best can tell where his body and his mind stand. So the desire to put off such a decision this year is nothing more than Ray sticking to his plan. But I also sense that the Heat have moved on, based on the fact that there is absolutely nothing left to offer other than the minimum, while Mario Chalmers has been signed at $4 million and Udonis Haslem at $2.7 million. I just don't sense it ended well last season, wonder if Ray (and perhaps LeBron James) wished that Erik Spoelstra had moved Allen into the starting lineup earlier in the NBA Finals, rather than waiting for the fifth and final game against the Spurs. Unlike others who have been wed to specific cities over their careers, Ray has been on the move so much in his career that I believe another city would merely be part of the journey.
Q: How does the Greg Oden incident affect the Miami Heat's image, and does it affect his chances of being picked up again? -- Tyler, Fort Lauderdale.
A: Greg is a free agent and these troubles have nothing to do with South Florida or the Heat. I think Erik Spoelstra tried to put the best face on the situation when he continually praised Greg's comeback last season, but I also sense that there is a belief within the organization that Greg simply is not mobile or agile enough anymore at this level. These latest legal issues likely make him a longshot to land anywhere this offseason.
Q: Sup Ira? I always see you tweeting about the top remaining free agents, but how can the Heat get one of those if we already have 15 guaranteed? I think Pat Riley made some bad moves there. -- Carlos, Dominican Republic.
A: Because the Heat are nowhere near the luxury tax, there is minimal financial risk in carrying more than 15 players in the offseason with guarantees. Remember, Justin Hamilton and James Ennis have only partial guarantees. Even if the Heat wind up with some dead money on their 2014-15 payroll because of additional offseason signings, it still will be far less than what they're actually paying to Mike Miller to have him not play for them (and instead play for the Cavaliers) this season.
August 11, 2014
Q: What does the signing of Shawne Williams say about Udonis Haslem? I think Shawne is more of a power forward than small forward. At the moment, you can't feel too comfortable with what we have on the wing. -- Win.
A: The problem for Udonis is that Erik Spoelstra's system (or at least the systems he has utilized to this point) rely heavily on versatility. But without LeBron James' rebounding, Udonis could be called on more often for that facet. Then again, every year at this time, we hear about Haslem taking his game to the 3-point line. Perhaps this is when those shots actually take flight. To a degree, Haslem is the lone remaining muscle in the Heat's power rotation. The question is whether he can reinvent himself perhaps as Charles Oakley.
Q: It's been 14 years since an NBA champion ranked outside the top 10 in defensive efficiency. The Heat were 11th this past season. Have the Heat corrected their defensive deficiencies and has Cleveland really gotten anywhere near the top 10? -- Jeffrey.
A: Both teams have real questions in that area, although I think Luol Deng will provide a boost defensively on the wing for the Heat. Cleveland certainly has significant questions in that respect, because while Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving do many things very well, defending is not one of them. The key there could be Anderson Varejao being able to keep himself on the court as a full-time rim protector. As for the Heat, if Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers are going to be allowed to continue to hunt for steals, the pressure on the front line will continue to be significant. It will be interesting to see if Erik Spoelstra adjusts defensively to a roster that has undergone a significant overhaul.
Q: Both Luol Deng and Danny Granger were ignominiously dumped for salary-cap reasons after staring for their teams. So often players have banner years as they approach free agency in the next season. Will this be a factor in their hoped-for redemption to the Heat's benefit? -- Jack, Sanibel.
A: It's sort of a double-edged sword for the Heat. Both Deng and Granger can opt out after this season, and if they have bounce-back seasons, both are likely to do so. The problem for the Heat is that they want to maintain flexibility for the 2016 offseason, thus the two-year deal for Dwyane Wade. So, to a degree, the Heat need Deng and Granger to be good, not great. Deng has a chance to outperform his contract, because other than his time with the Cavaliers, he has been a solid complementary piece. Granger, by contrast, is a greater unknown. The reality is the Heat need both to produce to have a chance at homecourt in the first round of the playoffs.