Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

A: If you would have asked a few weeks ago, I would have told you that the Heat owed it to themselves to investigate. Then Hassan Whiteside happened. And then I've caught continued glimpses of Lopez, including two weeks ago against the Heat, when he displayed the exact opposite of the "motor" the Heat prefer from their players. Still, Lopez does have a more of a body of work than Whiteside (albeit more of a body of injuries, as well). But all of that aside, the reality is that Lopez earns $15.7 million this season (with his option for $16.7 million next season), and that would require the Heat to come up with matching salaries to make it work under the salary cap. You know they're not trading Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh, and I can't fathom they (or any team) would rather have Lopez than Luol Deng. I think the salary, ultimately, could be where any discussion begins and ends.

Q: Should we be concerned about Wade? -- Kent.

A: Anytime Wade misses time, there has to be concern. Again, this is why a proven, NBA-tested veteran in reserve was the preference here from the outset. Something more than the limitations of Shannon Brown. Something more proven than Andre Dawkins or Tyler Johnson. Considering the time Wade missed last season, and considering Wade turns 33 Saturday, you would have thought there would have been more of a safety net for times such as these.

Q: Does Kevin Love struggling in Cleveland say even more about what Chris Bosh was able to do alongside LeBron James? -- Steve.

A: To me the Love-Bosh comparison in their first seasons alongside LeBron are somewhat apples to oranges, since Bosh already had been to the playoffs, knew what it took to compete in the postseason, once he arrived to the Heat; Love has yet to play his first postseason game. But your perspective is spot on when it comes to Bosh being willing to sacrifice and accommodate when it came to meshing with James. While he is reserved by nature, Bosh also is regarded as the ultimate teammate.


January 14, 2015

Q: Ira, if the Celtics buy out Tayshaun Prince or Nate Robinson, any chance of them helping the Heat? -- Bill.

A: It certainly looks like buyout season is coming early in the NBA. Typically, buyouts aren't granted until after the trading deadline, which is Feb. 19 this season, so teams can potentially use such contracts in other deals. Most of the buyout action usually comes just before March 1, which is the waiver deadline for players who have been in the league this season to be playoff eligible for other teams. But this is a unique season with so many teams playing for the future, preferring to develop younger players. Word is that Robinson is headed for a reunion with Doc Rivers with the Clippers, which is interesting considering how Rivers spoke before Sunday's game against the Heat about a reunion with his son, Austin Rivers, who has been dealt to the Celtics. While Robinson is not exactly in the Heat mold, the reality is that in light of the team's play at point guard, the Heat would have to at least consider any veteran options, perhaps even Jameer Nelson, should he get a buyout from the Nuggets. Prince, by contrast, fits the Heat mold, or at least what the Heat mold used to be. The issue now is whether the Heat are content with Danny Granger, who has another year, at his option, on his Heat contract, and whether the Heat want to continue to keep James Ennis in the rotation. The upshot is that it looks like the $2.65 million disabled-player exception the Heat got for Josh McRoberts' knee injury just might be put to use on the buyout market, when it comes to outbidding capped-out teams.

Q: Hey, Ira, the rumor of the Heat going after Arron Afflalo, is there any truth to that and can it happen? -- Yandy.

A: Oh, it could happen from a logistics standpoint, with Afflalo holding an early-termination option for next season, and therefore his money not running into the 2016 offseason, with the Heat hoping to hoard cap space for that summer's free agency. And the Heat have the matching contracts to meet the $7.5 million Afflalo earns this season. But . . . But here's the issue: The Nuggets only would make such a move for either cap space, young prospects, draft picks, or, most likely, a combination of at least two of those options. The Heat have almost nothing when it comes to expiring deals of heft and have even less when it comes to attractive future draft picks or emerging higher-tier prospects. So while Afflalo would make sense when it comes to bolstering the Heat backcourt, I'm not sure where the Heat would make sense to the Nuggets in the equation. It's sort of like when the Grizzlies inquired with the Heat about Luol Deng. That doesn't mean the interest is reciprocal. Then again, this is a league that can produce the unexpected.

Q: Is Hassan Whiteside a keeper, or is this just a hustling-rookie tease? -- Angel.

A: Well, it's definitely not that, since this is Whiteside's third NBA season. And if you're hustling toward results, you tend not to be a tease. I know it's cliche, but you can't teach height. But what you can do is coach it into effectiveness, which is the ongoing process. All I know is there has been more from Whiteside in a month than there was from the recent likes of Dexter Pittman in far longer. This is only the starting point, but the potential for more is there.


January 13, 2015

Q: Ira, I know it's a small sample of Hassan Whiteside, but if he continues to play well I see him playing next to Chris Bosh for a long time. Where does that leave Josh McRoberts for the future? Could he be put in a trade for a point guard? Reggie Jackson would be a natural. -- Juan.

A: Let's not get way ahead of ourselves. First let's see if the Heat actually can win consecutive games with Whiteside in the rotation before we start looking years ahead. The more immediate impact could be making Chris Andersen available by the Feb. 19 trading deadline. You never know what the NBA is going to bring year to year, as evidenced by McRoberts' knee injury and surgery. What you want to do is stockpile assets and go from there. I would prefer to think of Whiteside as this coming June's first-round pick, since if the Heat make the playoffs, that pick will be lost to the 76ers. Then, in the summer, the Heat can reassess where they stand, with both Whiteside and McRoberts. And McRoberts certainly played well in stretches when utilized off the bench, so there always is that option, especially if he does wind up having almost a year off the court. The interesting point you make is that because McRoberts has time on his contract beyond the 2016 offseason, if the Heat do trade him for a contract that extends beyond that point (which would be the case with the new free-agent contract Reggie Jackson would be signing), the money would offset.

Q: Ira, you keep mentioning Birdman and the trading deadline. Do the Heat have anything else to offer? -- Sid.

A: Yes, the $2.65 million disabled-player exception they received for McRoberts' injury (and, to clarify for those who have asked: If McRoberts is able to make it back before the end of the season, the Heat still would have the right to exercise the exception). That exception can be used either for a free agent or in a trade for a player in the final year of his contract (the exception cannot be aggregated with another player's salary to trade for a more-expensive target). Because the exception does not expire until March 10, its greatest value could come in the buyout market. With so many rebuilding teams trading for expiring contracts, several names could be available via that means. Tayshaun Prince is one possibility there. Andrea Bargnani could emerge as another.

Q: Is Sunday the victory that turns it around? -- Lee.

A: That's the hope. But it also was the hope after the victory in Dallas and after the victory in Phoenix. This team needs to sustain success, because there still are plenty of challenges remaining, including the second night of a back-to-back on Wednesday against the Golden State and then Oklahoma City in the first game back after this five-game trip. It comes down to whether this roster is capable of sustaining its intensity, or whether, after four consecutive trips to the NBA Finals, the stamina is lacking.


January 12, 2015