Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

Q: Are media members actually buying LeBron James' contrived act of "going home," tempering expectations, trying to keep a low profile? -- Brian.

A: Yes, seemingly everywhere beyond the 305, 786, 954 and 561 that's exactly what's happening. And let's face it, LeBron's people are doing a masterful job of casting it that way. It is the exact same political spin that will be filling our television programming now through the first Tuesday of November. It's as if LeBron met Karl Rove.



October 20, 2014

Q: Both Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier have to play, almost for the same reason: Pat Riley has to see what he has. So where does Mario Chalmers fit in? -- Al, Coral Gables.

A: It's sort of shocking how the outlook has changed regarding a player who started on two NBA championship teams. It's almost as if Chalmers has been penalized by the lack of depth at shooting guard behind Dwyane Wade. I'm wondering if the Norris Cole-as-starter experiment hasn't been part of a showcase, to potentially move him before having to consider his Oct. 31 rookie-scale extension deadline. Based on how Napier has played, I think starting Chalmers at the point (which I've always thought would be the case) and having Napier off the bench (until he is ready for the next step) is the best fit. Now the question is what kind of value is Cole perceived as having?

Q: Tyler Johnson seems to have energy and explosion. What are the chances of the Heat taking a look at him for the roster? It would be nice to have some youth and explosion. -- Diaz, Miami

A: Both Tyler Johnson and Andre Dawkins are intriguing. And with both somewhat undersized as swing guards, it is another reason why a thinning of the ranks at point guard might benefit the Heat. At the moment (unless the Heat otherwise opt to keep the rebounding of Khem Birch), the Heat would have room for Johnson or Dawkins. The question become how many guards on the slight side the Heat can afford to keep.

Q: Do you think Danny Granger will actually help the Heat this year, or just take up a roster spot? -- Mike.

A: There is plenty of room on this roster for Granger, and plenty of need for someone of his veteran pedigree. Once Wade makes the expected upgrade with his play, and once the offense and approaches become better defined, Granger should be fine as both a sixth man and someone who can bide time as James Ennis rounds out into a more polished prospect.



October 19, 2014

Q: So it seems that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh want to see Shabazz Napier get playing time, too. When can Pat Riley work out a trade for Mario Chalmers or Norris Cole? It would be a shame to lose Cole. -- Chet.

A: There is plenty of room on this roster for three point guards, something I think most teams prefer (and readers to this space know for years that I've supported). There is no need to get rid of anyone, with plenty of space on this roster for all three, especially with Chalmers taking regular rotations, at least in the preseason, at shooting guard. But there is something about Napier when it comes to having the "it" factor. I know it's cliche, but the kid is a winner and carries himself on the court as someone who is comfortable no matter the pressure or surroundings. I'm not sure he will be a classically consistent scorer, but he has shown time and again the ability to step up to the moment, with his late 3-pointer against the Warriors another of those moments, albeit an exhibition moment. He also has shown a somewhat Wade-like ability to get to the foul line this preseason (although it will be curious to see if he gets those calls against veterans during the regular season). I'm not sure the Heat expected to utilize Napier as a rotation player at the outset of the preseason, but I think some of that thinking might have to change. He again made you notice Saturday.

Q: Forget the James Ennis comparison to Michael Beasley. I'd like to be more positive. How about Ennis being Kawhi Leonard? Leonard came into the league with little fanfare, but is an athletic, hard working, and quietly emerging star. -- Jason, Miami Lakes.

A: I think the style are different, in so far as Leonard tends to blend in, while Ennis lets you know he is there from the moment he enters, with his relentless energy. While Leonard has stepped into the Spurs' starting lineup, I think Ennis is better suited, at least at this stage, to serve as a caffeinated boost of energy off the bench. It is impressive to scan the list of rookie leaders during the preseason and see Ennis' name up there with so many high draft picks. It has been a while since the Heat have had such fury that could be added to the mix in the midst of a game. Ennis has helped make the preseason something close to actual fun.

Q: The kids look better than the rotation players. -- George.

A: That is not unusual during the preseason. They're playing for jobs. The rotation players still are preparing for the upcoming 82-game grind. But I also think it is important that the Heat get in at least one dress rehearsal before the start of the regular season, and I think that will come Tuesday in the home preseason finale, a game that is being nationally televised by TNT. Then the Heat can address any final issues with the final composition of the roster during the exhibition finale next Saturday in Memphis.



October 18, 2014