ASK IRA: Are Heat back to 'every game matters'?
Q: Can the $2.2 million trade exception we have from the Joel Anthony trade be combined with Norris Cole to bring in someone at the $4 million price range? -- Andre, Miami.

A: No. Exceptions cannot be aggregated (although the mid-level can be broken into smaller increments for multiple players). Basically, if the Heat opt to utilize exceptions, it would be one exception per player.


June 30, 2014

Q: Why not sign Carmelo Anthony instead of Dwyane Wade? I know that is a cold-hearted thing to do, but Melo is the better player now. I know Riley's loyalty to Wade would not allow this to happen, but just a thought. -- Ian, St. Petersburg.

A: The pat answer to these types of questions long has been: Because no one will ever trust Pat Riley and the Heat again if they make such a move. For one, I think if players want their money, and desire a location, they're quick to forget about history. Remember, plenty of players signed to play for the Clippers after plenty about Donald Sterling was public knowledge. This reality is that the Heat have operated more as a partnership than a hierarchy these past few years. Wade has enabled Riley as much as Riley has enabled Wade. Pardon the cliche, but for better or worse, they're in this together. That doesn't mean that LeBron James, Wade or Chris Bosh couldn't be lured elsewhere. It just means that Riley and the Arisons are not going to pull any end runs. It's not who they are or how they operate.

Q: Ira, will Pat wait for possible amnesty players, too. -- Trader.

A: The amnesty week does not end until the third week in July, so that might be too long to wait. Plus, the Bulls, Spurs, Thunder, Hawks, Celtics and Grizzlies are the only teams still in position to utilize the one-time amnesty provision. So we're not really talking about many possibilities beyond, say, Carlos Boozer and Kendrick Perkins, with only 10 players still amnesty eligible. And remember, there then is a waiver bidding period, with the Heat unlikely to have the funds at that point to make a claim.

Q: Are Marvin Williams and Trevor Ariza really going to make this team that much better? -- Jeffrey.

A: This team has been to four consecutive NBA Finals. It doesn't need to get "that much better." What it needs is enough quality depth to alleviate concerns by LeBron and others of being run into the ground during the regular season, and the Heat being out of quality options deep in the playoffs.


June 29, 2014

Q: Ira, I understand Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem being comfortable enough to commit themselves to the Heat. But that's not the impression I had of LeBron James at the end of the season. Why is everyone so sure he's staying? -- Tony.

A: Because I can't fathom him looking Dwyane and Chris in the eye, encouraging them to opt out, and then relaying a similar message to Udonis . . . only to then walk out on the three. To me, it would be unfathomable. Everyone -- including Pat Riley drafting Shabazz Napier -- did everything for LeBron this past week. Even Napier received a Twitter vote of confidence from LeBron both before and after the draft. LeBron has gone miles to rehabilitate his reputation, has stood front and center in Erik Spoelstra's "Band of Brothers" approach. It would be one thing if he acted independently, with the perfect right to then move on independently. Instead, between vacationing with Ray Allen and James Jones, meeting with his fellow Heat stars, and making a pointed statement about the Heat's draft, he has made himself a co-pilot with Pat Riley in the Heat's offseason. These coming days, and perhaps even weeks, will be filled with drama, but if LeBron James truly is a different person than the one who sat for "The Decision" in July 2010, then this decision is done. Too many have followed his lead in recent days for him to then up and lead elsewhere.

Q: How many premium players might the Heat add with the free $8 million to $10 million they now could have?  Will they still have their exceptions (mid-level, mini mid-level, etc.)? -- Brian.

A: They will have their cap space, plus one $2.7 million cap-space exception, with everyone else having to fill in at the minimum, beyond Napier's rookie-scale deal. Basically, expect one significant component to be added, with the Heat then deciding whether that $2.7 million will go to another outsider, or whether it would be used to lure back Ray Allen or Chris Andersen. And I still think there's a chance Norris Cole is moved to create even more space, especially if Kyle Lowry is the free agent added.

Q: I know hindsight is 20/20. But the Big Three opt-ting out really makes getting that extra year for all of them via sign-and-trade back in 2010 a waste. We gave up multiple picks to the Cavs and Raptors, all for nothing. I understand that in the moment, getting the Big Three was pie in the sky and we were gonna do whatever it took. But those picks could have really helped fill voids now and in the future. Nothing replaces young talent at a relatively cheap price, which is what you get with a lot of first-round picks. Just wanted to hear your  thoughts. Love the work you do! -- Jason.

A: What it did was allow LeBron and Bosh to work with higher starting salaries, as well as affording long-term security in case of a major injury. But as you surmised, it all was about giving up whatever was needed to get the job done. Just as it was comical back in 2004 when Heat fans were debating whether Caron Butler should be thrown into the Shaquille O'Neal deal . . . would you really have allowed the entire Big Three thing to be aborted over a few middling draft picks? It was the price of thinking outside the box.


June 28, 2014