Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

Q: Given the Heat's need for youth, athleticism and players who can create their own shot, I am shocked we gave up on Michael Beasley. Plus he was a fan favorite, a minimum salary and Pat Riley has a motivation for loyalty and "making things work." Will we ever know specifically why the Heat lost complete faith in Michael? -- Stone, New York.

A: I don't think there is any deep mystery, nor has any specific incident come to light. I think it was part of a bigger picture of remodeling the outskirts of the roster with those with a fresher outlook. Ultimately, it came down to what Beasley can do, what the Heat thought they needed, and the maturity level they desired from such a role. There are many players in this league who can score, but also many not good enough to stay on the court because of the rest of their games. Michael ultimately fell into that group for the Heat.

Q: A Rajon Rondo-Dwyane Wade backcourt would be a game changer for the team. Mario Chalmers is definitely a chip, but finding other chips for a doable deal is problematic. Let's see if Riley can somehow work his magic without weakening the current roster. But a Rondo-Wade combo would elevate the Heat to legitimate contenders. -- Colin, Miami.

Q: Chalmers is selling his condo in Miami and Rondo just bought a condo in Miami. Let's see what happens after Dec. 15th. -- Evan, Miami.

Q: Rondo and Ray Allen having had issues in Boston may be the reason the Heat didn't welcome back Allen. -- Jose, Miami.

A: Ooh, a triple-header of Rondo question (because there's nothing like trade rumors). I am among those who do not believe Rondo has a long-term future in Boston, not with the group Brad Stevens has in place. And I do believe the Celtics can secure a quality haul in return. But based on what Danny Ainge would be seeking, even with his cordial relationship with Riley, I don't see a match. The Celtics would want quality draft picks and young talent in return; the Heat have precious little of either.

Q: Four years back at the start of free agency, when no one dreamed we'd have a snowball's chance of a Big Three, it was all about pairing Chris Bosh with Wade and building around them. Yes, Bosh has played differently from his Toronto days and Wade has battled injuries, but I still see the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, with a team that will be fun to watch.  Love LeBron James, but hated when the ball was stuck in his hands and four players just watched. I'm excited to see movement basketball. -- Brian.

A: Even though LeBron waited until a day later to make his Decision in 2010, I don't think there ever was a chance of Wade and Bosh playing in South Florida without LeBron. But we now will get to see what they could have done in his void. For as stagnant as things might have grown at times, none of that blame belongs to LeBron, considering his ability to score against multiple defenders. And while there will now be a need for greater ball movement, there also has to be a greater willingness. Should the ball stick with Wade or Bosh it will be much more of an issue than when it stuck with James. 



September 24, 2014

Q: Has there been a Chris Bosh sighting? I don't think the guy has been on a basketball court since the season ended? -- Raffa.

A: First, Chris has been back in town and has been working at AmericanAirlines Arena. But any player who went through the grind the Heat endured these past four seasons deserves all the time off he could muster. Ditto for Dwyane Wade. Ditto for LeBron James in his new reality. While much is made about teams bonding during September workouts, there is plenty of time for that during a month of camp, a preseason trip to Brazil, and then the grind of the regular season. And that said, "bonding" also can be overrated. What this Heat team needs to do is coalesce on the court during structured practices in Erik Spoelstra's system. With so many newcomers, including two new starters, in Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng, structured teaching sessions will be essential. This team simply can't play the same style on offense or defense with LeBron gone. Now even the holdovers have to assume additional responsibilities, while the newcomers have to see how they can fit. Chris has put in more than enough court time since July 2010. I'm not sure that the film work and study sessions won't be just as essential for this reworked roster.

Q: If Atlanta were to have a down year this season, would a deal of Josh McRoberts, Norris Cole and a first-rounder (can add in benchwarmers to make money work) be enough to get Paul Millsap's expiring contract at the deadline, looking way ahead? He would fit in perfectly next to Chris Bosh. -- Khalid.

A: So might be the case with McRoberts and Bosh. Actually, it's probably a good thing that virtually the entire roster can't be traded until Dec. 15 (save for Norris Cole, Justin Hamilton and Shabazz Napier), because it will allow ample time to see what works. (Under the collective-bargaining agreement, players signed in the offseason cannot be traded until Dec. 15.) And for all the strides Millsap has made, in both Utah and Atlanta, McRoberts is as intriguing as any of the Heat's newcomers. It will be interesting to see how Spoelstra utilizes his game.

Q: With Andray Blatche, Wayne Ellington and Ramon Sessions gone, it looks like what you see is what you get, as far as the basic roster being set. (I don't see anybody left out there that's going to provide an upgrade, at least at this time.) While I thought all three could've made Miami's bench stronger, there were reasons all were available so late in free agency. I think Pat Riley is trying to strike a balance here, with one eye on this season, and the other on 2016. He has invited an interesting, and in some cases intriguing, group of young players to camp. If that youth develops over the next couple of years, it will make us a much richer team, with the addition of several "name" free agents in 2016. And it's also quite possible that Riley believes the likes of James Ennis, Shabazz Napier and Tyler Johnson, have more possible upside this year than what's been available in free agency. We could get lucky if one or more of the younger players can contribute significant minutes in 2014-15. My remaining concern is the lack of a quality veteran to back up Wade, simply because of Wade's recent history of injuries or need to limit the number of games played, or at least minutes per game played. Recent history tells us that Wade is not going to be able to play 35 minutes a game, or upwards of 75 games. So who fills the gap? Outside of that, you have to trust the moves Riley has made this off season. -- Matt.

A: If backup shooting guard is your lone concern, then Riley must have done plenty right. The one thing about Riley is he tends to embrace certain young players and will do almost anything to try to make it work. We saw that with Chris Quinn and could see that with some of this year's prospects. I think it would mean plenty to Riley to have another longshot who turns into a contributor, or to possibly revive the careers of one of the journeyman veterans he has brought in. But I would add two other areas of current roster need: A rim-protector beyond Chris Andersen, whose minutes have to be limited at his age; and a lockdown defender at point guard, with a chance that Shannon Brown could fill such a role.

 

 


September 23, 2014

Q: Dwayne Wade is my favorite player by far in the NBA, so I might be biased. But even with Chris Bosh getting his new contract, I am still convinced Dwayne is the best player the Heat have. I'm not ready to write him off. At worst, he is the second-best shooting guard in the NBA. But I still consider him the best, considering Kobe Bryant hasn't played in two seasons and then there's James Harden's thoughtlessness on defense. Seeing him break down in the Finals last season was depressing; but he is D-Wade. His basketball IQ hasn't disappeared, even if his athleticism is in a decline. I'm wondering: Do you think this upcoming season he will at least come back a 23-5-5 guy? -- Hanif, Pembroke Pines.