A: But Riley also, at times, has taken the long view, as he did with the wind-down with Shaquille O'Neal and the buildup to 2010 free agency. This could be one of those times, where it only becomes apparent later why there had to be such tough times now. Faith in Pat Riley is fine. But understand it might have to be long-term faith.
January 22, 2015
Q: It's incredible to me how much Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole have regressed. I know it's not a smart thing or fair to say, but 'Rio could be blamed for the last two losses. He killed runs and had so many turnovers. What has happened to these two? -- Julio.
A: The problem is that things that worked and meshed and clicked with LeBron James alongside don't always work and mesh and click in his absence. Chalmers and Cole appear to be examples 1 and 1A. Beyond that, it sure seems like Erik Spoelstra was perhaps nudged to utilize Shabazz Napier more often. Napier, too, has struggled, but there still might be an upside there. Of course, when Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are at the top of their games, it offsets some of the struggles by the point guards. The reality is that the Heat might not have been in those tight finishes without Chalmers' aggression.
Q: We aren't going to win many games with D-Wade and C.B. shooting under 40 percent. These are career 50-percent shooters. Do we need to do run some non-predictable plays to get these two some easier looks? -- Morris.
A: I just think the Heat need to run plays, period. Except for the final sets Wednesday, it sure seemed like a bunch of freelance until that point. If they're going to play slow and deliberate, then execution becomes paramount. While I know some on the team praised Spoelstra earlier in the season about the flowing offense he put in place, it might be time to rethink things. At 18-24, how can you not?
Q: Injuries or no injuries, the Heat have too much talent and a supporting organizational culture to be 18-24. It doesn't add up. -- Stuart.
A: This is just a theory, and absolutely, admittedly, nothing more than playing an armchair psychiatrist, but it almost seems as if Wade, Bosh and others along for the NBA Finals rides these past few seasons are exhausted. It's almost as if they want back the extended offseasons that have lost the past four years. I appreciate that Spoelstra is still pushing, but I wonder if there are enough buttons left to push.
January 21, 2015
Q: Shabazz Napier should have started against the Thunder. -- Diante.
A: Look, this is what happens when you're at the crossroads of development and making a push for playoff seeding. Immediacy tends to enter the equation. You can make an argument that with one year remaining on Mario Chalmers' contract beyond this season that Napier might have a longer-term future with the Heat. But what Erik Spoelstra knows is that Chalmers already has a chemistry in place with Wade, while that would be more of an iffy proposition with Napier. And with Napier best with the ball in his hands, having him play alongside Wade might not be optimal at this stage. The question going forward could be if Spoelstra stays with Norris Cole ahead of Chalmers. If that's the case, and if everyone stays healthy, then Napier's playing time again could wind up coming Sioux Falls, whether that is just or otherwise. While Napier played ahead of Cole when it came to Tuesday's rotation, it was Cole who wound up with more playing time. Against the Thunder, Chalmers played 28:21, Cole 17:48 and Napier 15:49.
Q: Do they Heat look at Jordan Farmar or Nate Robinson? If they were to sign one of them, what would this mean for Cole or Chalmers? -- Bryan, Plantation.
A: I don't think point guard is the concern, but rather getting depth at shooting guard behind Dwyane Wade. That could be a point guard with combo-guard skills, or a defensive guard who can defend point guards. At this stage, with three point guards already on the roster, I think the upgrade would have to be considerable for the Heat to move in that direction. I'm not sure that's the definition with Farmar or Robinson. By adding a combo guard, it also would give the Heat greater freedom to include one (or even two) of their current point guards in a trade.
Q: Why the trade rumors with Josh McRoberts? Before he was injured, we saw signs on why he could be an important starter for the Heat. Imagine the pick-and-rolls with Hassan Whiteside or off-the-ball cuts by Luol Deng. -- Brian, Fort Lauderdale.
A: The problem is that most of that remains an abstract, with the reality that by the time McRoberts returns, this roster could look considerably different. I don't think by any means are the Heat "dangling" McRoberts on the trade market, but with so few chips to put into play, McRoberts at least gives the Heat a salary starting point for a trade. Plus, McRoberts and Chris Bosh are the only players on the roster locked into contracts that extend beyond next season. So an acquiring team from a smaller market could covet such a deal, rather than risking quickly losing a trade acquisition from the Heat. As with most trade rumors, McRoberts at this point mostly is a number on a trade ledger, someone who at least can get the Heat into the discussions.
January 20, 2015
Q: Wouldn't you agree the Heat's immediate needs are point guard and shooting guard? I was thinking of Reggie Jackson, who is available. The hardest part is finding a third team, which is what it's going to take. I would be willing to part with Luol Deng at this point. -- Bryan, Davie.
A: First, from what I can tell, the Heat would be reluctant to part with Deng, who was among those requested when the Heat and Nets were talking about Brook Lopez. I agree that Reggie Jackson is intriguing, and we know he was a player who caught Pat Riley's attention going into that draft. Plus, with Jackson approaching free agency, this tends to be a time when Sam Presti takes stock with his assets. But what the Thunder would want, prospects and picks, are not what the Heat have to offer. Yes, Jackson is the type of scoring distributor who would make sense for the Heat. But he also would make sense for teams that arguably have more to offer.