ASK IRA: Was timing of LeBron's departure perhaps of benefit?
A: Because what if he is super-fantastic again and merits a long-term deal like Chris Bosh? In the short term, Wade allowed the Heat to fit in several new pieces, including Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger, while also giving himself the chance to prove the Heat still might merit an A-list salary. No matter the outcome from here, Wade has proven to be the Heat's Dan Marino, sticking by the franchise for better or worse. He could have just stayed in his two-year, $42 million deal and never opted out in June. Instead, he facilitated the overall salary structure for the Heat's greater good. He appreciated the need to help set the table for the final years of his Heat career. Now, in 2016, the only Heat contracts on the books, at least at the moment, will be those of Chris Bosh and McRoberts. When Wade's jersey is hoisted to the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena, it should rise to a position a bit higher than the others.

Q: I was thinking: Udonis Haslem could actually be useful next season, as without LeBron James, the Heat could bring back the pick-and-pop game. With LeBron, Haslem was asked to roll to the basket instead and it was just out of his comfort zone. The patented Haslem 15-footer just might make a comeback. -- Moshe.

A: And he might have to offer more, without as much depth of talent as in recent seasons, especially with Rashard Lewis off to the Mavericks. But while those shots might be there, the question is whether the shot can be as efficient as it once was. But someone will have to help make up for the rebounds lost with LeBron's departure.

Q: Does James Ennis crack the rotation next season? -- Jeffrey.

A: I think he will open with sort of the "Michael Beasley role," getting minutes when they might be there. From there, it could come down to both his adjustment, as well as how much Danny Granger has left. Ennis has shown in summer league that he can defend, which could be essential when it comes to potential playing time.



July 15, 2014

Q: If Pat Riley had known that LeBron James wouldn't be re-signing, do you think he would have still signed Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger, or do you think he would have gone in another direction? -- Moshe.

A: Look, Pat Riley does one thing particularly well, and that's think big. So if he had $17 million-plus in cap space at the start of free agency, had LeBron been candid from the start, then doubt he would have trimmed it into parcels where $5 million went to Josh McRoberts, $2 million to Danny Granger and then shopped with the remaining $10 million, which turned into Luol Deng. I think he would have been far more aggressive in pursuing Kyle Lowry and Marcin Gortat, or perhaps even delved into the trade market. LeBron had every right to do what he wanted. It's how he did it that impacted the Heat upon his departure. Argue whether it was the Heat helping LeBron get those two titles, or whether it was LeBron getting those two titles, but when it came to the partnership, it is clear that something went wrong along the way.

Q: In two years, do you really believe a 32-year-old Chris Bosh is going to be able to convince a 27-year-old Kevin Durant to abandon a 27-year-old Russell Westbrook to come join him in Miami? I don't, and I don't think you do, either. With very few exceptions, history has shown that the pathway to sustained NBA excellence is to draft a young star. I understand and support what Pat Riley is doing, but at some point, it's time to go all in on Blake Ahearn and Kasib Powell. -- Richard.

A: I think anything about Durant is overstated, because it remains such an abstract with two years still to play out. But, yes, I do think Chris has the type of game that should age gracefully and prove alluring, just as Miami will always prove alluring as a destination. And I don't agree about the lottery approach, because for every lottery star there is an Anthony Bennett. That's where I give credit to teams like the Mavericks and Hawks, for continuing to give their fans a playoff product. Yes, it's about championships. But it's also about watch-ability.

Q: It seems the roster has little in the way of 3-point shooters.  What are your thoughts on addressing that? -- Brian.

A: Well, McRoberts, Bosh, Mario Chalmers, James Ennis, Danny Granger and others shoot 3-pointers on this roster at enough of a clip to keep the opposing defense somewhat honest. I think what the Heat want to do is get away from players who only shoot 3-pointers. Yes, you need to space the floor, but the question becomes whether you allow that to start compromising your rebounding and defense.



July 14, 2014

Q: Ira, Pat Riley is engineered for these circumstances. -- Alfredo.

A: Being candid here, I honestly thought the Heat were going to go into 2007-08 mode after the loss of LeBron James, just as they did when Shaquille O'Neal began shutting it down. Instead, Riley showed there's still plenty of fight left, that he, not Phil Jackson, will be the feistiest 69-year-old team president in the NBA. First there was the caution-to-the-wind contract for Chris Bosh, affirming a conviction that Bosh can be a build-around star. Then there was a wild Sunday when Riley locked up Luol Deng, shunned the outside noise about Mario Chalmers, and got Chris Andersen to agree without Andersen definitively knowing about his contract terms. Like I said on Twitter, if you're having your taxes done next year, consider having them done by Andy Elisburg, who knows the CBA better than any accountant could possibly know the tax code. The ultimate reality: There is plenty of fight left at 601 Biscayne. Good for them. Good for Heat fans.

Q: Could the Heat get Carlos Boozer if he is amnestied by the Bulls. -- Jayce.

A: You must have remaining cap space to bid during amnesty waivers. Only if a player clears that process without anyone making the minimum necessary bid can the player become a free agent, as was the case with Mike Miller last year, when there supposedly was considerable doubt about his health. Boozer is likely to receive a bid that would put him beyond the Heat's grasp.

Q: What about . . .? -- Everyone.