A: By sending back a first-round pick they can't afford to send. Until the Heat's top-10-protected first-round obligation is paid off to the 76ers (through the Cavaliers [from the 2010 LeBron James sign-and-trade] and through the Timberwolves [Thaddeus Young trade]), the Heat basically don't have a first-round pick they can deal. That's why the best outcome going forward would be to make the playoffs, send their 2015 first-round pick to Philadelphia, and then regain flexibility to trade future first-round picks (since, by rule, you cannot trade successive future first-round picks). But Afflalo would make a lot of sense for the Heat's current roster.
February 13, 2015
Q: Chris Bosh makes far too many excuses. Despite a handful of good shooting games, and after a strong start to the season, he's been a major disappointment. His shooting has been poor, as has been his rebounding for a person his height and length. The B.S. about teams loading up on him, they didn't do that in Toronto? Besides an erratic jumper, there's no aggression going to the hoop. Maybe he is exhausted, as he's played a lot of games in the past five years. But quit making excuses, and start playing like the star that he's being paid to be. (Everything with him is a "season-long adjustment." When he played center, we heard about was what an adjustment it was. Now that he's back at his natural position, he talks about that being a "season-long adjustment.") -- Matt.
A: Look, the mailbag was full of these (as you can see below) after Chris' performance Wednesday. And deservedly so. He did not play well against the Cavaliers and acknowledged it after the loss. He has to be better, better than he's been in several recent games. But he also is a complementary star, something he was asked to do the past four years. Even Erik Spoelstra warned going into this season not to expect the same Chris Bosh who was a stand-alone star with the Raptors. So when Wade is available, he is a floor spacer with his shooting. When Wade is out, he is expected to be a pivot player. That is, of course, unless Hassan Whiteside already is planted in the paint. He started the season as a center alongside Shawne Williams, moved to power forward in some bigger lineups, moved back to center when Josh McRoberts played, was injured, and now again is a power forward. And you're right, those also can be excuses. He needs to be better. He said as much after the loss to the Cavaliers. Now we'll see.
Q: Once again, Chris Bosh was basically a no-show Wednesday. I look at other teams whose lone star shines when the other is out. Houston comes to mind, with James Harden. And where is our star player? Bosh has done nothing so far to justify his maximum salary. -- Faye.
A: Except Harden is a wing player, can take charge of the attack by himself, doesn't need somebody to set him up for scores. This is a wing-oriented league now. You don't see many stretch fours dominating the ball. For all of his skills and salary, the reality is Bosh still needs someone to get him the ball. And have you looked at the Heat's point guards lately? A lack of execution and cohesion tends to take a significant toll on Bosh. It just does.
Q: I see Chris Bosh says a lot after a game in post interviews but can you give insight as to how he is with other players in practice or during a game? I figure if he is the person he appears to be (cerebral, introspective, funny), he'd back up his talk in postgame interviews to not be a diva. -- N.T.
A: He is quiet, reserved, and tends to keep to himself, which is why he is not a captain. He cares deeply. But he's not a rah-rah type. He wants to let his play do the talking. But, as mentioned in the answer above, his game is the type that requires teammates in support. This season, those who Bosh relies on either have been injured or ineffective. That is not an excuse. He is neither aggressive in personality nor in play. But he can be effective in the right situations. And he can slump, which is where he finds himself these days. He is an All-Star, respected as such to the degree that Eastern Conference coaches voted him into the All-Star Game despite the Heat's record. He is respected and he plays trying to justify that respect. He cares.
February 12, 2015
Q: I don't think Hassan Whiteside is eligible for Most Improved Player. But if he is, I don't see a way he doesn't win. -- Michael, Hollywood.
A: I don't see any reason why he would not be eligible. I initially thought Most Improved Player would be a runaway for Jimmy Butler, with the way he has bypassed Derrick Rose as the Bulls' leading man. Then I thought Draymond Green might be the frontrunner, the way he has helped fuel the Warriors' winning streak. But the Whiteside currently on display is a completely different player than the center who previously struggled with the Kings. Hassan already is the most-improved player to have arrived from Lebanon and China. To some, it's almost as if he's a rookie, since he looks nothing like what he did in his previous NBA incarnation. If Whiteside does make such a breakthrough, he would be the Heat's first winner since Ike Austin in 1997, with Rony Seikaly previously winning for the Heat in 1990. The criteria on the ballot reads, "This award is designed to honor an up-and-coming player who has made a dramatic improvement from the previous season or seasons. It is not intended to be given to a player who has made a 'comeback.' " I think most would agree that "dramatic improvement' has defined Whiteside's play with the Heat since the turn of the calendar. It's about sustaining it now.
Q: Either the Heat are very poor in drafting good talents, or very poor in developing talent. Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Justin Hamilton are just few examples of failures. Either way something has got to change. -- Ananth.
A: I'm not sure you "develop" four-year collegians, which is why I think some teams shy from them. With Chalmers and Cole, they drafted ready-to-go players, and Chalmers showed his value by helping immediately push the Heat into the playoffs and Cole showed his value by helping the Heat win championships in his first two seasons. With Whiteside, James Ennis and Tyler Johnson, I think you'll see the Heat move back into development mode, with each arriving somewhat raw. But, as with Chalmers and Cole, I'm not sure how much more the Heat can do for Shabazz Napier, who might just be what he is after his extended developmental time at UConn. That said, Wednesday was one of Napier's better nights and he probably has developed most with the playing time he has received amid Dwyane Wade's absence.
Q: I was one of the fans that praised Pat Riley and Micky Arison for moving as quickly as they did once LeBron James bolted. I was also very quick to criticize the contact given to Mario Chalmers. Dwyane Wade is a superstar, with repeat health issues, no surprise at his age to the Heat or us fans. The team as built is not going anywhere, even if everyone were healthy. We just don’t have the pieces to match up with the better teams. So, should Pat Riley stay with the cards he has or do whatever it takes to get better now? -- Chet.
A: There isn't much that he can do at the moment, other than perhaps move Chris Andersen, Norris Cole, or other minor pieces for minor pieces. Riley has said he will have an open mind as the Feb. 19 trading deadline approaches. The emergence of Whiteside has made Birdman somewhat expendable. Also, Napier's move up the rotation has lessened the need for Cole, who probably won't be retained in free agency, anyway. But there has to be perspective on what players such as those might bring in return. The buyout market might provide more of a yield for the Heat.
February 11, 2015
Q: As much as I love having Chris Andersen in Miami, Birdman would be pretty valuable to a playoff contender. And with Hassan Whiteside's emergence and the fact that there are other bigs Miami could sign for depth (Samuel Dalembert, Andray Blatche, Khem Birch), he may be our best trade piece. -- Jake.
A: I've got to be candid here. I find myself waffling on Birdman and the trade market. On one hand, he's one of the Heat's few assets who might be able to fetch a quality draft pick or prospect from a championship contender. On the other hand, you see nights such as Monday against the Knicks and recognize the value he has to the Heat, especially with foul trouble an ongoing concern with Whiteside. The Heat have shown, with their defensive struggles, they clearly are better with a rim-protector, something Udonis Haslem or even Justin Hamilton cannot provide if Birdman or Whiteside are not available. I think your point about replacement big men is particularly cogent. For the Heat to put Birdman on the market -- if playoffs remain a definitive goal -- they first would have to know who they could line up as a replacement. As the list you offered shows, there are replacement candidates out there, perhaps even more on the buyout market after the Feb. 19 trading deadline.
Q: Hassan is awesome, but the fouling is an issue. -- Dallas, Staten Island.