February 17, 2015
Q: In your recent article, I agree that Luol Deng would be a coveted glue player for a contender. I also agree that the Heat are more in need of an alpha wing/guard. Thus, wouldn't you agree that the Heat and Thunder may be aligned as the perfect trading partners? As an impending restricted free agent, Reggie Jackson is a luxury that Oklahoma City can no longer afford. It is similar to the way Houston acquired James Harden. If you look at the list of unrestricted free agents in 2015 and 2016, for what the Heat need, it doesn't get much better than Jackson. The Heat would be acquiring a player the same caliber and age of an Eric Bledsoe, without having to give up Chris Bosh, whom Pat Riley can use in a future trade for another young alpha. Mike Conley is simply not going leave Memphis once Marc Gasol commits there. By doing this deal now, you incorporate Jackson into the Heat culture, and gain the upper hand on the Lakers and Knicks, who don't have a Luol Deng to entice Oklahoma City. I'd even throw in Birdman if the Thunder insisted. To make the numbers match, the Heat would be taking back Kendrick Perkins' expiring contract. Since Deng is likely to opt into his $10 million player option for 2015-16, I would think Oklahoma City would want Deng for next year, too. I especially love that Jackson is five years younger than Deng. So where am I going wrong? -- Rich, West Palm Beach.
A: Here's where: the Heat's desire to maximize their cap space for 2016 free agency. By trading for Jackson and then giving him the type of contract he is seeking, that would be another chunk of cap space taken out of the Heat's 2016 free-agency cash stash, similar to the money due Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts. It's not a matter of fit, it's a matter that Deng's number comes off the Heat's books in 2016 (or earlier), while Jackson would further reduce the Heat's 2016 cap space if a new contract if worked out this offseason. While there is something to be said for a bird in hand, you would hate to find out later that by having extra cap space, you could have done more in 2016 free agency. So the real question is whether Bosh, McRoberts, Hassan Whiteside (provided he is re-signed), Dwyane Wade and Reggie Jackson is your idea of a championship core.
Q: I actually envision Goran Dragic to a Heat guard and it would be great to see him play as a Heat player. Is there a way The Dragon could be breath fire to the Heat? Is there a possibility for this to happen at all? -- Jorovan, Philippines.
A: First, there is conjecture about whether the Suns want to trade Dragic before he becomes a free agent this offseason or whether they want to re-sign him. But, for argument's sake, if Phoenix would want to be proactive with a Dragic deal, the Heat do not have the type of first-round pick or young prospect available to entice Phoenix. So then you're looking at a three-way deal, which isn't the easiest proposition with the trade-deadline clock ticking.
Q: What can we get for Chris Andersen, Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole? I don't think there is any more significant trading value on the team. I feel now is the time to move to get better or to get assets. If we can get a starting point guard, a shooting guard and draft picks, I would certainly tank. -- Joaquin.
A: Um, yeah, you're not getting that much for such a package. And with the Heat's dearth of guards, I don't think you're in position to trade both Chalmers and Cole.
February 16, 2015
Q: Enough about Chris Bosh already. His inconsistent play is not the main reason for 30 losses before the All-Star break. Mediocre guard play and a mediocre bench is. The addition of Hassan Whiteside and the mostly stellar backup play of Birdman is just not enough to make up for those deficiencies and Dwayne Wade's recurring injuries. Even when Dwyane comes back, it will still be all hands on deck and if any of Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng or Hassan Whiteside have to miss any significant playing time, winning games will be a difficult challenge with this bench. I'm sure I am not the only Heat Lifer wondering why at the very least, the injury exception for Josh McRoberts has not been used already. It's time to acknowledge that Danny Granger, Norris Cole and Shawne Williams are just not working out. We have to tolerate the inconsistent play of Shabazz Napier and James Ennis to get them experience and see if they can improve. Pat Riley needs to get some guards and at least one 3-point specialist who really can hit threes and space the floor. Maybe because I want to see the Heat win so badly, I'm just not seeing or understanding the big picture moves that Pat Riley and Heat management have in mind for this team. I always thought it was to field a team to try to win championships every year! Please don't respond with how you can't anticipate injuries. Every team has them and it's the reason why you are supposed to have back up talent coming off the bench. -- Mike.
A: I agree the depth has not worked out. But I don't think the goal is championship every year. I think it's to make sure they are working toward a championship every year, whether it's actually playing for one or setting up the salary cap in order to build for one, as they currently are doing. But I see no reason not to spend the $2.65 million disabled-player exception received for McRoberts' injury by the March 10 deadline other than retain Justin Hamilton in his current roster spot. It is difficult to believe there is not a player available anywhere at $2.65 million who wouldn't make this Heat roster better.
Q: Ira, don't you think that Erik Spoelstra needs to do a better job of getting Chris Bosh going early in games, specifically down low in the post. The problem with Bosh's game is that it is relying too much on the outside shot. When that isn't falling, then he is ineffective. Like it or not Bosh is our main horse so we have to make sure he gets going. Now that we have Hassan Whiteside, they certainly can't collapse on Bosh without consequences. The bottom line is Spoelstra needs to start out with an inside-out game plan. -- Max, Fort Lauderdale.
A: I agree. But he also has to get Wade going now that Dwyane is back after almost a month off. The reality is that there are as few as 30 games remain for the Heat, and this is no time to hold back with anything or anyone. There should be a steady diet of Wade and Bosh the rest of the way, with both playing in attack mode, with Whiteside there to clean up when they miss.
Q: I've been reading about the Heat being interested in Jameer Nelson. Why? -- Charles.
A: Beats me, unless they already have something in mind with a Norris Cole trade, in which case an extra point guard who could make 3-point shots would make sense. I can't fathom adding Nelson to a roster that also includes Mario Chalmers, Shabazz Napier and Cole, and can't fathom Pat Riley thinking that way, either.
February 15, 2015
Q: Ira, Shabazz Napier This kid is starting to impress me. He is improving and hitting some shots. -- Chet.
A: Napier is starting to remind me somewhat of Anthony Carter, in that he does a lot of intangible things at point guard that can help you win, but when he's off with his shot, he's really off with his shot. Many of Napier's misses rekindle the Carter shooting experience. Actually, I'm curious about what comes next, once Dwyane Wade is back in the mix. I'm assuming that Mario Chalmers continues to start alongside Wade, but it will be interesting to see how much the Heat utilize Napier alongside Wade, two players who both are at their best with the ball in their hands. The Heat clearly have to get a read on Napier-Wade going forward. But they also clearly have to start winning games. Napier was an afterthought for much of the season prior to Wade's latest absence. Has he done enough the past two weeks to retain a significant role in the rotation?
Q: Will Hassan Whiteside get more plays drawn for him during the second half of the season? -- Darryl, Fitzgerald, Ga.
A: I don't think that's how the Heat view Hassan. I think he mostly will remain an alley-oop and offensive-rebound weapon. His post-up game remains mostly raw and there is almost no back-to-the-basket element. Among the reasons you draw up plays for centers is to engage double-teams. Whiteside is not to the point where opponents automatically send a second defender, if at all.