ASK IRA: Even without LeBron, will Heat remain South Florida's lone playoff team?


 July 20, 2014

Q: Ira, as well as opening up cap room for a pitch to free agents in 2016, do these new Heat contracts also give Pat Riley more flexibility to make trades in the next couple of years? He has been limited in the players he could trade in recent years due to so many players opting to play for less to play with LeBron James. -- Sam, London.

A: Terrific point. In recent years, and even during this free-agency period, the Heat have had few options either for trades or sign-and-trade possibilities. Now, Riley can mix and match. No, that was not the reasoning for the way these contracts were structured, but it does put Riley back in the market. In recent years, the Heat largely had to sit out the trade deadline and hope for something to fall into their laps at the buyout deadline. This time, there will be trades pieces to put in play at the deadline, but no remaining cash or cap exceptions for the buyout deadline.

Q: Let's assume that LeBron spends the rest of his career in a Cavs uniform without winning a title. Does he go in the Hall of Fame wearing Heat colors or Cavs colors? Also, would Miami ever considering retiring his jersey, seeing that he only spent four years here? Granted, the four years were really special and should be recognized by the Heat organization. -- Andrew, West Palm Beach.

A: Unlike baseball's Hall of Fame, you are not enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame with a particular team designation. In basketball, that is particularly sensible, with free agency and so many trades. It's sort of similar to those who had asked when Tim Hardaway was a recent finalist, whether he should go in as part of the Run TMC Warriors or from the Heat. As for LeBron's number being retired by the Heat, I think four years falls short of any legitimate requirement. Of course, Riley does enjoy displaying jerseys at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Q: Mario Chalmers? -- Roy.

A: You know what? Mario has done well by this franchise, and has never had a salary where anyone truly could say he was overpaid. To get a starter at a below-average salary just seems like good business.


 

July 19, 2014

Q: Ira, what makes you or Pat Riley or Micky Arison or anyone believe that Chris Bosh can be a leading man again? -- Len.

A: First, I don't think that's the approach that Chris is taking, has taken since leaving the Raptors. He appreciates that it takes a depth of talent, which is why it is important to him that he remained alongside Dwyane Wade, as well as the type of talent Riley has added, such as Luol Deng. The reality is that in the NBA you overpay at times. This, amid the devastation of the departure of LeBron James, is one of those times there is a benefit to overpaying. The signing of Bosh stabilized the Heat's situation. And the one thing about Chris since his Heat arrival is that when given the opportunity, he has seized it. His play these past four years inspires confidence. And the sense is there is a newfound motivation.

Q: As an outsider looking in, I think LeBron James felt that Dwayne Wade was not a max-contract player. He knows Wade is not the same player on offense or defense he was a few years ago, and signing a contract to stay with the same group without room to change, he would have not won again. -- Mark, Nashville.

A: Which should be all the motivation Dwyane needs, to make those head-to-head matchups what they were like when LeBron previously played for the Cavaliers. And perhaps for Wade to invite LeBron to his playoff games after James' team is eliminated. It may not have been the reasoning, but LeBron surely has provided ample motivation for Dwyane.

Q: Something tells me the A/C might not be working when the Cavs come to town. -- David.

A: Funny. Guess LeBron won't have to worry about overheating and cramping up playing in Cleveland in the dead of winter.



July 18, 2014

Q: As Dan Gilbert prepares to let LeBron James' inner circle overtake his franchise again, and amidst reports that Pat Riley and Micky Arison were holding the line on how they wanted the Heat organization to be run, which is the right approach? -- David, Staten Island.

A: The reality is that when you can wield the type of power that LeBron can, you have no choice but to capitulate. While the reasoning for James taking a two-year deal from the Cavaliers has been the greater cut of television money that should be available in the 2016 offseason, I think it's because with the one-year opt out, he can continue to hold the hammer against management, at least present the threat of possibly leaving. It actually is a brilliant strategy. As for the Heat, they gave James every tool he needed to win. That is where they drew the line. His manager in the training room? Fine. Access for his family in the locker-room tunnel? Fine. His personal therapist brought in from the Cavaliers? Fine. Every whim and wish? Not when he still was part of a team.