Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

Q: I know everyone's focus has been squarely on Hassan Whiteside's maturity and temper in reacting to non-calls and getting hit, I get that. But from my point of view, I see a guy who is constantly getting hit in the face or upper body (that would generally qualify as excessive contact) and isn't receiving the proper calls, repeatedly. Sometimes it is as if the referees are blatantly ignoring and disregarding the hits he takes. Kyle Lowry lowered his shoulder and did nearly the same thing as Whiteside had done to Kelly Olynyk a few days prior, sending Whiteside hard to the floor with the referee in perfect position to see the entire event unfold. Whiteside gets a Flagrant 2; Kyle Lowry gets possession of the ball. I'm sitting here wondering why there is such a disparity between the refereeing. I'm also wishing Birdman and Udonis Haslem were a bit younger and still able to play the role of enforcer. All the hard hits to Goran Dragic and Whiteside should be repaid in kind, before it starts to get out of hand. It's like every team has had free reign to commit hard fouls on them without much penalty. DeMarcus Cousins got away with so many elbows I stopped counting. Dragic took a hard elbow to the face and the Raptors got free throws. Is it time they start protecting themselves and hit back? The referees certainly aren't protecting them if they don't. -- Chris, Huntington Beach, Calif.

A: I agreed that the non-call on Lowry was egregious. But I also think it was a case of Tom Washington clearly not seeing the play. I'm not sold that the Heat take more abuse than other teams. And it actually says something positive about Whiteside and Dragic that they are willing to stick their noses into such situations. As for enforcers, it's difficult for Haslem to get involved when he can't get off the bench. I simply don't see the Heat in position to retaliate when their priority has to be on winning games. I think with more time in the league, Whiteside will start getting more respect.

Q: I no liking the body language of Hassan Whiteside when he thinks he got fouled. He is always the last one get into position for offense. To me it looks like he is developing an attitude. I hope this is not his ceiling? He has potential to be great. -- Marcos, Coral Gables.

A: And that's a problem, when both Whiteside and Wade are lagging behind the plays arguing calls. With this team's position of desperation, the effort and hustle has to reach another level. And that has to start on the defensive end with both Wade and Whiteside.

Q: Why is Henry Walker jacking up countless shots when he's shooting under 30 percent, and Whiteside barely gets any plays run through him when he's the most effective player not named Wade or Dragic? Is Erik Spoelstra stuck on small ball and can't change his ways? -- Andre, Miami.

A: I agree that the Heat have been taking the shots the opposition wants and not necessarily the ones they need. At least Wade was candid after the loss in Toronto, when he said he should have been more aggressive. I think getting into the offense quicker also would help.


March 14, 2015

Q: The Heat spent all of their time in practice thinking of new, innovative ways to turn the ball over again. -- Francis.

A: Some of the stuff Friday was unreal. At a time when the passes have to be crisp and the ball movement definitive, the Heat were playing at times like it was a meaningless early-season game. For all of the external urgency about the playoff race, it's as if the reality of the moment hasn't hit home in the locker room. Or maybe playing for eighth place simply doesn't resonate with this group.

Q: The Miami Heat have had so many awful 3-point shooting games this season. Why does this team keep shooting threes at such a high rate? If that is the strategy, then get some better 3-point shooters. -- Stuart.

A: Amen. No, really, amen. It's as if the Heat are running the same offense as when Ray Allen, James Jones, Mike Miller and Shane Battier were in place. It's one thing to play inside-out or reverse the ball to the opposite corner when one of those players is standing there. But those same shots from the same places this season are fortunate to do more than draw iron. If you don't do something well, why keep doing it? And then it reaches the point where Dwyane Wade is trying to become the answer from beyond the arc. Yes, this roster might have needed another big man lately. But there simply has to be better 3-point shooting next season.

Q: Ira, was Henry Walker brought back because he came first? Or is Michael Beasley coming back, too. -- Robert, Miami.

A: The Heat face a Tuesday decision on the expiration of Beasley's second 10-day contract and I would expect that he, too, would be signed for the balance of the season. It has reached a point of both limited alternatives and limited time to break in another player. If there was significant motivation to add Andray Blatche or JaVale McGee, then those deals would have been done by now. Walker initially was summoned ahead of Beasley because he already was involved in the Heat system by playing for the team's D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce. When it was apparent more was needed with Chris Bosh out for the season, that's when Beasley was added. To a degree, the two might already be battling to see which rates ahead of the other when it comes to planning for next season. At this advanced stage of their careers, I would doubt either would be summoned back for summer league.


March 13, 2015

Q: Goran Dragic isn't being utilized as a point guard (see his three assists Wednesday, compared to Dwyane Wade's nine) and he's not getting as many touches as he'd hope (nine field-goal attempts compared to Wade's 25). So I have a feeling he's going to leave for the exact same reason he left Phoenix. -- Ivan, Miami Gardens.

A: No, he found himself in an ill-fitting situation in Phoenix because everyone was a point guard. With the Heat, everyone in the primary three-guard rotation is just a guard (Dragic, Wade, Chalmers), each able to play on the ball or off the ball. I don't believe the Heat go into games with the intention of Wade taking over the playmaking. Games just evolve, and the defense often has a say when it comes to such matchups. Dragic still can get the ball when he wants, when he needs it, where he wants. And Erik Spoelstra cycles through his rotation to make sure Dragic still will be featured. It is an approach that allows Dragic to maximize his skill set, not one that inhibits his game. Based on what he has said, how the two have played together, and body language, I think it's a pairing Dragic relishes.

Q: Are the rumors true about Josh McRoberts coming back before the end of the season? And if so, how soon can we expect him back? -- Michael.

A: Erik Spoelstra still says there are no plans for a return, but with everything that goes on behind closed doors with the Heat, you never know. I'm just not sure that with the season winding down and such limited playing time, that it could even be possible to establish any type of continuity with McRoberts' unique game at this point. But it is curious how others with similar injuries either are back (Kemba Walker) or are working back (Derrick Rose).

Q: Who would ever think Michael Beasley wouldn't be the No.1 head case on his team. Moreover, he looks much better now. -- Kay.

A: It's all about the role. When Beasley came in as the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2008, the expectations were significant. When he returned last season, there were championship expectations. Now he can play as a No. 8 or No. 9 man, have an uneven night like he did on Wednesday, and no one blinks. As just another rotation player, he fits in fine.