ASK IRA: Could Beasley prove to be one that got away?


September 8, 2014

Q: Ryan Hollins and Nazr Mohammed couldn't get off the bench for their teams last season, so why would the Heat think they could help them this season? -- Art.

A: This is the time of the offseason when teams run free-agency leftovers through workouts just to see if there is anything left, from both the player and the market. At this stage, we're talking possible 15th men, players who could provide a veteran option if other offseason moves don't work out. We're essentially talking practice players, mentors. Of what's left on the free-agency market about the only players I would still consider potential contributors (beyond restricted free agent Eric Bledsoe, who is out of reach) are Andray Blatche, Ramon Sessions, Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Jordan Crawford, Wayne Ellington and, yes, Michael Beasley.

Q: Some of the offseason signings don't make sense to me. Signing Shawne Williams in lieu of Michael Beasley seems bizarre. Beasley showed a maturity to his offensive game last year. He could take his man off the dribble, drive the lane, hit the midrange jumper, as well as the three. Now, Erik Spoelstra /Pat Riley may not have been thrilled with his defense, but then they sign the likes of Reggie Williams, who is infamous for notoriously bad defense. -- Matt.

A: I always come back to this: Teams see things in practice, in the locker room and even during offseason workouts that we don't. So it really comes down to the faith, or lack thereof, in those making such judgments.

Q: I love watching the James Ennis highlights on YouTube.  He reminds me of a young Gerald Wallace. Is a player like Ennis better off riding the pine on the Heat roster, scoring 25 a night in the D-League, or playing overseas again? -- Beau, Wellington.

A: Overseas is not an option with the guaranteed money the Heat have already committed. I suspect the Heat will decide during camp whether he can be part of the season-opening rotation or whether he would be better off getting seasoning in the D-League. It could come down to who is named coach of the Sioux Falls Skyforce and how much of an imprint there is there from the Heat coaching staff.



September 7, 2014

Q: What are the chances Miami signs Andray Blatche? -- Marshall.

A: If it were up to me (and it never is), it would be a no-brainer. Frankly, I think a lot of it would be up to Blatche, a willingness to buy into the Heat system and accept a minimal contract. Even that tweet that came out at the World Cup, saying Blatche was returning to Miami to negotiate . . . there is nothing to negotiate, at least with the Heat. The minimum is all they have to offer. I would be shocked if the Heat would allow a guarantee to get in the way. But you do have to wonder about Blatche being forced to wait this late in the process, whether there isn't more at play than salary or role.

Q: I'm not trying to reminiscence here, but why would the Heat pass on Leandro Barbosa, especially the way he has been playing in the World Cup? -- Bruno, Fort Lauderdale.

A: Word is Barbosa received a full guarantee from the Warriors, while the Heat got Shannon Brown to come to camp without a guarantee. Again, I can appreciate in previous seasons, when the Heat were deep into the luxury tax, how they would want to avoid guarantees. But with the tax not in play at this point, I would hope the Heat's decisions are about more than minimal guarantees, and are more about skill. I can't see how the Heat wouldn't be better with Blatche/Barbosa than, say, Shawne Williams/Shannon Brown. But it's Pat Riley's opinion and Micky Arison's money that matter most.

Q: Maybe I'm a bit off, but I am not so thrilled about these next two seasons. But come 2016, I   am. With so many top free agents plus a new television contract with much larger cap room, the Heat will be in position for two top free agents and Chris Bosh's $22 million won't be that high. How would a Kevin Durant-Bosh-Joakim Noah core look?  Or a Chris Paul-Bosh-Dwight Howard? Dwyane Wade will retire by then. -- Martin.

A: Dwyane isn't retiring as long as there is money to be made. As for your greater point, I absolutely hate -- and I mean hate -- how the NBA has made acceptable willing away two years of your fandom in the hope of something better. It's practically criminal that some teams are allowed to operate that way. A lot can happen in two years . . . or nothing. Think about how Houston gave up Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin on a whim this offseason. . . for nothing in return. And think about how the Bulls previously thought they might get Wade or Bosh in 2010 and then Carmelo Anthony this offseason. It's almost the NBA's opiate, this wait-for-coming-years tease. No, I'll take living in the moment anytime.



September 6, 2014

Q: Everyone seems to have written Danny Granger off, but Granger still has an All-Star pedigree, with maybe a little left in the tank. -- Claudia, Miami.

A: While there is no doubt that Dwyane Wade's return to form is the key for the re-imagined Heat, Granger stands as the newcomer who could provide the greatest unexpected boost. Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng are known quantities; they do what they do and they do it efficiently, if not spectacularly. But Granger not so long ago was a player opponents game-planned against. Clearly much has changed in the intervening months, with the way he was flipped between the Pacers, 76ers and Clippers, and then how he was available for such a minimal salary. But he already is at AmericanAirlines Arena working out, seemingly committed to rebuilding his career. While it's a double-edged sword, with so many Heat players holding out-opts after the current season, it also could be a source for extreme motivation, particularly with Granger.  

Q: I completely agree Heat will provide a lot of entertainment value this year. Imagine fans of the 76ers, Magic, Jazz, who have no shot. Last year was a one-trick pony with LeBron James. It's going to seem strange having Jason Jackson interview somebody else after the game. Last year the Heat almost mailed in some games, but this year the entire team knows they will have step up their intensity. I am a big believer that fans don't want to see old retreads (except Birdman), but new faces that have star potential. The storylines this year will be more fascinating. -- Susan, Miami.

A: As regular readers of this space have seen in the past few weeks, there have been plenty of offerings like this. And that says plenty about a fan base willing to stand by its team. But my question is whether the enthusiasm will be there if the competitiveness is there but not the desired win total. There was a time when a gritty 42-40 or 44-38 Heat team was all that was required. I'm not sure the Heat, or their fans, would be willing to be in that place any time soon.