A: Not at this point, not with teams still holding cap space and salary-cap exceptions in excess of $4 million and $5 million. This is why free-agency has slowed to a crawl, which could remain the case for a while, as is the case every summer.
July 27, 2014
Q: Ira, how long will it take Pat Riley to pick up any players? Jordan Crawford is still out there and MarShon Brooks. -- Joe, Birmingham, Alabama.
A: This tends to be a period when veteran free agents wait to see if something above the minimum might still be available, perhaps all or part of a remaining mid-level exception somewhere, or even the bi-annual exception. Once those exceptions, plus any remaining available cap space around the league expires (some teams, though, seemingly have no interest in spending to the cap, the lose-now 76ers among them), then the minimums tend to fill out. You can rest assured that Pat Riley and his staff are continuing to push veterans for commitments. The problem with the Heat is that a player looking for exposure on the wing might have little sense about where Danny Granger stands with the Heat, when it comes to available minutes in the Heat's perimeter rotation.
Q: Mario Chalmers isn't as bad as most fans think, although with such a quality point guard-saturated league why can't Miami do better?! -- Grant, Lake Havasu, Arizona.
A: First, you can't have the best player at every position, considering how the salary cap works. And, as I've said before, I think you'll see more from Chalmers now that LeBron James is gone, simply because there has to be more. But I also think you still could see a restructuring from the Heat at point guard, where Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier already are under contract. With $7 million tied up at the position, I wouldn't be surprised if the Heat thin out that group in favor of a wing, and then perhaps add a veteran point guard at the veteran-minimum salary.
Q: I have seen several suggestions for the Heat's three remaining roster spots, including the latest: Rip Hamilton. Doesn't it make more sense to take a chance on some unproven prospects in the hope to develop some usable talent later on? -- Joaquin, Coral Gables.
A: I think you'll see something closer to a redeployment of the Heat's development program, at least with James Ennis and Napier (and it would be intriguing to also add Tyler Johnson from the Heat's summer-league team, as well). But I also think it's also important to still add a veteran wing defender, someone who already knows tendencies around the league. That's a tough spot to utilize a young player, even one with the athleticism of Ennis.
July 26, 2014
Q: Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade will see double teams the entire season. And now Wade will be defended by a better defender than last year. The Heat will need to become a defensive giant if they are to contend. -- Martin.
A: You raise an interesting point about Dwyane, considering that the opposing perimeter defensive stopper the past four seasons placed his focus on LeBron James. To be honest, it's not something I considered when writing about an expected revival by Wade. While Luol Deng is a competent scorer, it's not as if you need to defend him with a stopper. Considering Dwyane had so much trouble creating space off the dribble during the latter stages of the playoffs, it will be interesting to see if playing at a lighter weight helps with his agility. The challenge figure to be raised across the board for the Heat this coming season.
Q: Even during the Big Three era and going back to Alonzo Mourning and Tim Hardaway, the Heat teams have at times been offensively challenged. Look at the film from the NBA Finals (not taking anything away from the Spurs), but some of the Heat's offensive sets were terrible. So even with a lot of talent, the Heat have been challenged on offense. Why not sign Jordan Crawford? He can create on his own and score baskets in bunches. Somehow, I think the Heat can use some instant offense next year despite a core of Bosh, Wade and Deng. What do you say? -- Stuart.
A: That is why I think another chance for Michael Beasley could be in order. He does have a way of getting buckets. And I've been advocating Crawford for weeks now, but I'm not sure the minimum (which is all the Heat have left cap-wise) can get it done. Packaging Norris Cole and Justin Hamilton for a scorer earning $3 million or so just might have to be considered.
Q: Hi Ira, you recently said the Heat have no more cap room other than the minimum. The current players earn less than last year and there are those exceptions. Why can't the Heat pay someone more than the minimum? -- Herwig, Koflach, Austria.
A: Because in any offseason you use cap space, which the Heat did with Deng, you essentially have to round out your entire roster right around the salary cap (which is why the Heat will not be paying the luxury tax this coming season). Had the Heat not used cap space on Deng, they could have gone way over both the cap and tax, with larger offers to Wade and Udonis Haslem, as well as possibly spending the full mid-level exception. They instead felt it was more prudent to add Deng and deal with the accompanying limitations.
July 25, 2014