Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

Q: I am not a fan of Shabazz Napier. I think he's very undersized. Will the Heat continue to give him backup minutes at point guard? -- Anthony, Lauderdale by the Sea.

A: I do think there will come a time, once the roster shakes out and is stabilized, when Erik Spoelstra will tighten the rotation, as most coaches do as the playoffs approach. I would not be surprised if both Napier and James Ennis are asked to step aside, with Goran Dragic, Mario Chalmers and Dwyane Wade all probably better suited, at the moment, to be the primary ballhandler in big-game moments. I think development programs tend to be put aside for a season's final month when a playoff berth or playoff seeding are at stake. Napier played only 3:56 in Friday's second half and Ennis did not play at all.

Q. I hope they don't go with a three-guard lineup because that was what Goran ran away from in Phoenix! -- Barry, Miami.

A: What Goran had issues with was utilizing three point guards at the same time, with everyone trying to be the primary ballhandler. That won't be the issue with Dwyane Wade, who excelled playing off the ball with LeBron James, or with Mario Chalmers, who has played off the ball almost his entire NBA career. What I don't think you will see are many lineups that have Dragic, Shabazz Napier and another guard on the floor. There is little value, at this stage of his career, with having Napier playing off the ball.


February 27, 2015

(And for once, you get what you've been pushing for relentlessly: All Beasley, all the time, in today's mailbag.)

Q: I'm not a fan, but in this case it can't hurt with Michael Beasley. He can put points on the board which the Heat need. Hopefully a more defensive-minded player becomes available. If not, Beasley knows the system and it won't cost much. -- Chet.

A: Keep in mind three factors: First, Beasley's contract is only a 10-day deal and even that doesn't mean you have to keep him for all 10 days. Second the NBA buyout deadline for playoff eligibility is Sunday. So the Heat will know a lot more by the end of the weekend when it comes to what their overall options could be. Third, beyond all of that, there still is roster flexibility with Tyler Johnson's roster spot, in case you want to bring in someone else while keeping both Beasley and Henry Walker. What the Heat need at the moment, with Chris Bosh out, are players who can provide enough points to keep the team afloat. The back end of the roster very well could remain fluid for a while. As a matter of reemphasis, remember that a player does not have to be signed by March 1 to be playoff eligible elsewhere, he merely has to be waived by his current team by then. If Beasley has his own Henry Walker-type moment, he likely will live for another 10-day. If not, the Heat will turn to another player of the moment. Because in their scramble for the playoffs, it's all about the moment.

Q: With the signing of Beasley it looks like the Heat are signaling they will look to run more. -- Stuart.

A: I think both Beasley and Mario Chalmers made very good points Thursday about the timing of Beasley's signing. Had Josh McRoberts not been injured, and had Chris Bosh not been sidelined, you likely would have seen a continued limitation on the Heat's pace. But with the addition of Goran Dragic, and with the need to find easy baskets, Beasley simply might be a better fit for the Heat in February than he would have been in July, or even last season, when he had to defer to LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh. The perfect answer? Not sure about that. But at this stage, at least worth a look.

Q: I understand that it’s only a 10-day contract, but I’m surprised the Heat are going back to Beasley instead of trying to sign Andre Blatche. -- Dave.

A: And that the Heat have yet to spend the $2.65 million disabled-player exception received for McRoberts (again, the Heat can sign a player with that exception, still have McRoberts return, and keep both of those players on the roster). The repeater tax would make any team think twice, and I think declining to utilize the full exception is as much a basketball decision and a dollar decision. But it will be interesting to see if other teams with exceptions outbid the Heat for players either on the market or those who could be added to the market in coming days.


February 26, 2015

Q: Is it too early to call him Hammerin' Hank? -- John.

A: Well, while Henry (formerly Bill or Billy) Walker also goes by Hank, I think it might take a bit more before we get into nicknames. Then again, if ever there was a night when a legend could be born, it had to be Wednesday night and what Walker did with his two 3-pointers at the end of regulation in Orlando. I mean that was epic. I am not too ashamed to tell you about the complete story I had written about the Heat's devastating loss to the Magic (perhaps I could offer it on pay per view). Instead, Walker turned a horror story into the kind of moment the Heat just might be reflecting back upon in a month or even beyond. As Erik Spoelstra said, Walker was up to the moment. What the Heat have done with their D-League pipeline this season has been impressive, whether from afar (with Hassan Whiteside playing in Iowa for the Grizzlies' affiliate) to how they patiently waited for this moment to decide Walker was the right choice for a call-up. Walker has every opportunity to become a rotation player, as the clock ticks on his 10-day contract(s?). Then again, the Heat just might tear those up and show him the money now, on the type of favorable deal that also puts him under a team option or with a partially guaranteed contract for next season. Bill Walker used to burn the Heat with 3-pointers when he played for the Knicks. Now, Henry Walker is doing it for the Heat.

Q: Ira, does Goran Dragic's game provide a means for extending Dwyane Wade (if he stays uninjured) past next season, say another two or three years? -- Socrates.

A: I think it is a boost for Wade on two fronts. Foremost, it alleviates Wade having to be both the primary ballhandler and the primary scoring wing. With the Heat's struggles at point guard early in the season, Wade had to get his teammates into offense as well as create many of his own scoring opportunities. Dragic alleviates one of those burdens. Beyond that, Dragic makes the Heat better, which also should hearten Wade when it comes to pushing through minor aches and pains. When the overall possibilities for success are greater, there tends to be more incentive to contribute. That's just human nature. While the Heat will have to wait on Chris Bosh to get the whole band back together, Wade no longer has to function as soloist and supporting player. When the Heat acquired Dragic, Wade's life got easier. And when/if the Heat re-sign Dragic in free agency, Wade's life will be reduced of many of the stresses he had to handle at the start of this season.

Q: At times playing smaller with Luol Deng at power forward may make sense for short periods of time if we have a good defender at small forward on the floor. I don't like playing small for too many minutes, but it would be interesting to watch a power forwards try to cover Deng. -- Morris, New York.

A: But in Erik Spoelstra's position-less approach (which he insists remains alive and ticking), just because Deng is cast at power forward at times doesn't necessarily mean he won't necessarily be defending the opposition's best wing scorer. There are enough matchups in this league where the opposing power forward is not necessarily a scorer. But your concern about the Heat's defensive deficit on the wing is legitimate. In fact, the Heat's lack of depth on the wing might be every bit as much of a concern as the lack of depth in the power rotation without Bosh. I guess I would ask in return: Are you more comfortable utilizing Udonis Haslem at power forward or James Ennis at small forward? Consider this my submission to "Ask Morris." Then again, perhaps Henry Walker could turn into an answer for both of us, regardless of whether the question is power forward or wing. 


February 25, 2015