Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

Q: Ira, do you think it's time for Erik Spoelstra, who seems to be stuck in the LeBron James Era to start using James Ennis as his new LeBron James ? Even though L.J. cannot be replaced, Ennis has that spark and can be as aggressive if they made more plays where Dwyane Wade and him work more together. Also I think Ennis should do what L.J. never did for South Beach or the Cavs and join the slam-dunk contest and win one for Miami.  -- George.

A: Whoa, except for the part about the dunking contest, which could be intriguing. Forget the LeBron comparisons, because that isn't fair to anyone. The issue with Ennis is his ballhandling, which simply is not to NBA caliber at this stage. Yes, he can be aggressive to the rim and often plays in attack mode. But unless he is being led to the rim with a pass or scoring off a second-chance opportunity, he has had issues creating for himself, let alone for others. For now, Ennis is best when he is not handling. To become an elite scorer, he has to work, considerably, on that element of his game. James hardly distinguished himself Thursday, and the reality is the consistent playing time in the D-League might be the best way to develop his game, even if it takes him away from the Heat for a while.

Q: So is Justin Hamilton safe, or is he gone? Maybe be becomes part of a trade. -- Chet.

A:  Well, he's safe as far as the passing of the NBA's guarantee deadline. The reality is that the Heat already had guaranteed 75 percent of Hamilton's salary before the guarantee deadline, so they basically were too heavily invested to turn away. But, as you point out, the Heat can still use his salary to fill out a trade, since there really aren't any other minimum-scale players the Heat would be as comfortable tossing into a trade simply to make numbers work. For now, Hamilton stands as much a part of the Heat's ledger as he does as any tangible part of the rotation.

January 8, 2015

Q: I agree with that the Heat do not have a reliable backup for Dwyane Wade. I would trade Mario Chalmers and Justin Hamilton, if that's even an option. We can use Haslem off the bench to back up Hassan Whiteside and Birdman. I have more confidence in Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier at the point than Mario, and I feel Cole has played better when he's not sharing the floor with Chalmers. I'm sure Pat Riley, does not need my advice, just my two cents. -- Chet.

A: I agree a true backup shooting guard is essential, especially with Dwyane Wade likely to miss more time. For all of the Heat's offseason planning and remodeling, it remains somewhat baffling that the options at shooting guard have been limited to since-departed Shannon Brown and Andre Dawkins, rookie James Ennis, an out-of-position Chalmers and Danny Granger, who lacks the quickness and foot speed to play in the backcourt. Considering the Heat are starting Chalmers at point guard alongside Wade, instead of opening with Cole at the point, I'm not sure they agree with your analysis of Cole over Chalmers. And Justin Hamilton would be nothing more than trade filler (say if you're attempting to deal Cole for Iman Shumpert).When it comes to trade chips, I think Chris Andersen might be the best piece the Heat could put in play.

Q: Now that the Heat have waived Andre Dawkins, and given the opportunities that the Heat organization gives to players that pay their dues in the D-League, could we see Tyler Johnson get a 10-day contract? Johnson has been playing great basketball in the D-League. He is an attack guard that brings athleticism to the table, plays solid defense, and could benefit from playing alongside Dwyane Wade. Do you think the Heat will bring him up? -- Gustavo, Puerto Rico.

A: I was surprised at the end of camp that Dawkins got the final roster spot ahead of Johnson. Granted, Dawkins does one thing very well, but it seemed like his other limitations got in the way of his ability to display his 3-point prowess. Johnson is intriguing and could yet be one that got away. With an open roster spot, at least a 10-day could make sense, especially with a pair of back-to-back sets looming in coming weeks.

Q: Does it make sense to make a move at the trading deadline or just play out the year as is? -- J.C.

A: Considering how it looks like the Heat will be battling Brooklyn and Indiana for one of the final two playoff spots in the East, I think any upgrade would help, as long as it does not compromise the planning for the 2016 offseason.

January 7, 2015

Q: Samuel Dalembert, are the Heat are looking at him? -- Milagros.

A: I doubt it, and they've certainly had numerous opportunities before to go in that direction. They already have their Dalembert in Hassan Whiteside. The only way it would make sense would be if they were going to move Chris Andersen for an asset or a draft pick. Then again, teams that might have been considering Birdman now can essentially get Dalembert for nothing. Dalembert has spent most of his career as a tease. Then again, he still might be better than anything the Cavaliers can offer in the middle.

Q: I know Andre Dawkins wasn't in the mix, but does the release of Dawkins make James Ennis the Heat's backup shooting guard? (And don't talk to me about Mario Chalmers; you can't be the starting point guard and the backup shooting guard.). -- Thad.

A: Well, the Heat also can play Danny Granger in the wing rotation, and that's really what you're talking about when you consider how the Heat utilize their small forwards and shooting guards. Then again, Granger also has been receiving minutes recently at power forward. The reality is the Heat have been using a lot of smoke and mirrors to this point at shooting guard behind Dwyane Wade, including the season-opening gambit with Shannon Brown. There has to be a better way than to be counting on Chalmers to handle two such roles.

Q: This is not a time for Heat to panic, but to be realistic about their cards and not try to bluff their way through the season with a weak hand, because their bluff might be called at any time. -- Jimmy, Miami.

A: Well, they still have the $2.65 million disabled-player exception they received for Josh McRoberts' knee injury. But several teams have exceptions that trump that total. The reality is that for as bad as the Eastern Conference has been, if Jason Kidd can keep the Bucks afloat and in the top six in the East, then the Heat could be battling Brooklyn and Indiana for one of the final two playoff spots. And if you haven't looked, the Pacers are right there, getting healthier and finding a way to work past the loss of Paul George. Oh, and the Pacers already are 2-0 against the Heat.


January 6, 2015