Q: Wouldn't Rashard Lewis be a better option starting at power forward than Shane Battier, since Rashard still scores? -- Joe, Pompano Beach.
December 8, 2013
Q: Paul George is making more of an MVP case right now than LeBron James is, and, yes, I know LeBron's shooting percentages are up. But still I think we need a bit more effort from LeBron in order to win. He seems too comfortable. What do you think? -- J.R., Jersey City.
A: First, I wouldn't understate LeBron's averages, considering the effort that is being made to lessen his minutes. Is George playing with a heightened level of passion these days? Absolutely. The Pacers clearly are playing as a hungrier team. But when addressing concerns about the Heat, I wouldn't spend much time doubting LeBron when it comes to the eventual moments of truth. Whenever and whatever is needed, LeBron has a way of rising to the moment. Saturday, it was more rebounds. The result? His Heat regular-season high. Figure on him stepping up to Tuesday's challenges in Indiana, as well. The guess is someone will remind him that George beat him out for November Eastern Conference Player of the Month, despite LeBron's decided statistical edges.
Q: Will the Heat jump into the Omer Asik derby? -- Al
A: Well, if Houston truly is looking for draft picks, preferably a pair of quality first-round picks, that immediately removes the Heat from the equation. As I've previously said, the only feasible proposal from the Heat would be one made with Chris Bosh as the centerpiece. And while that might be intriguing from a rebounding and defensive perspective, I'm just not sure the Heat is ready to detonate a two-time championship core.
Q: Ira, you have mentioned Stephen Jackson for a possible backcourt addition. Would he be a locker room fit? -- Justin, West Des Moines, Iowa.
A: The suggestion came from a playing-style perspective. Jackson's length and ability to play on the wing would appear to address concerns the Heat might have on those days when Dwyane Wade is not available. What I cannot vouch for is Jackson in the locker room, where he seemingly complained his way out San Antonio. The Spurs and Heat share a common "culture" when it comes to who will and will not work in the locker room. But getting back to fit and cost, it would seem to be a match that could work if Jackson has anything left in his tank. Of course, it's not as if the Heat are barren when it comes to wing depth, as it is.
December 7, 2013
Q: I respect Shane Battier and I thank him for disturbing Tim Duncan's layup in Game 7, but he should not be starting on an NBA team. He can't rebound, he cannot defend NBA power forwards, and he cannot even make open threes now. I think Erik Spoelstra needs to shake up the starting lineup, but knowing his stubbornness, it would take a Battier injury to take him out of the starting lineup. Your thoughts? -- Hanuk, Seoul, Korea.
A: My thoughts are the Heat don't have a realistic replacement option at the moment. At the moment. Look, I know a lot of fans see this headed in a certain direction, and I agree that Michael Beasley might just have the tools to fit the job requirements. But not yet, not until he gets up to speed with the Heat's defensive precepts. Thursday against the Bulls was a good example of Michael masking with effort what he needs to accomplish with sharper positioning. But it's early, and for as much as you might perceive Erik as stubborn, he has shown a decided willingness to change as needed.
Q: Why are the Heat looking for backcourt help while it is the front line that is being outrebounded, outscored and outhustled on a nightly basis? Are they looking for a shooting guard that can also get 10 rebounds in part-time duty? -- Chet, Port St. Lucie.
A: No, they're looking for a supporting player beyond Norris Cole who can create his own shot. As for the height issue, that's why Chris Andersen was added last season and why Greg Oden currently is in the laboratory. To a degree, Stephen Jackson might be able to help the Heat in both areas, if he's willing to buy into such a limited role.
Q: Is it safe to say that this year, the Heat’s approach to the season is more cautious with all of its players to get them ready for a big playoff run? I see all of the other teams with injuries left and right. But at the moment, the Heat seem to be probably one of the healthier teams in the league. -- Javier.
A: Good point, and, yes, that very much is a priority. The Heat have had plenty of players miss time, but that mostly has been erring on the side of caution. And the Heat's depth mostly has made it easier to sit players when needed, with Thursday's fiasco in Chicago somewhat of an exception. But all of that said, these absences are robbing the Heat of the type of continuity needed to bond for when the games truly matter. Then again, it's still early in this marathon.