Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

Q: Will Hassan Whiteside be on the Miami Heat's summer league team? -- Darryl, Fitzgerald, Ga.

A: No, nor should he be. There are two elements to offseason programs. One is summer league, which affords players who have seen limited action to experience NBA game conditions. The other is summer camp, which allows the staff to work with returning veterans to refine their skills. The latter is what is most important at this stage for Hassan. He got to experience more than enough game action this past season. Returning players such as Shabazz Napier, James Ennis and Tyler Johnson are the ones who need the game action, and all three are expected to play summer league for the Heat.

June 14, 2015

Q: From what I have researched, the Heat would have the money to sign Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic if Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen were traded. Udonis Haslem has shown he can still provide in place of Birdman (who can't possibly have that many seasons left) and with our NBA Draft pick we can grab a backup point guard or look for Shabazz Napier and Tyler Johnson to provide what I think they can bring off the bench. Am I crazy or is this realistic? -- Zachary, Parkland.

A: That's not exactly the case. What thinning the rest of the roster would do would be to ease a potential luxury-tax hit for Micky Arison if Dwyane (perhaps on a one-year basis) and Goran are given max or near-max salaries for next season. But, to a greater point, there is a case to be made about thinning out salaries that are above the minimum at positions of duplication. So if Napier and perhaps either Zoran Dragic or Tyler Johnson prove to be enough to round out a backcourt rotation with Goran and Dwyane, then I could see Chalmers possibly being dangled. Ditto with Birdman, should the Heat deem Hassan Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts and Udonis Haslem to be enough at the top of the power rotation. Basically, the Heat met their loyalty obligation with the type of contracts offered to Chalmers and Birdman last summer. But I do not envision that Heat drafting a backup point guard at No. 10. I see adding a wing as a much more significant need.

Q: Watching the NBA Finals, I’m struck by the fact that the vaunted Western Conference teams really weren't as superior as all of the regular-season hype. Sure, the team records were better than the Eastern Conference, but, as always, the East has more focus on defense, while the Western Conference has a more open style of play. The Spurs-Clippers series showed that those two teams had superior talent, but the other Western Conference playoff teams have deficiencies that make them just as vulnerable as the East in a seven-game series. Looking at the Finals, having LeBron James is certainly a big advantage, but playing tough, solid defense, having a go-to scorer, and the ability to define a strategy over a seven-game series creates a balance. Not taking anything away from the Cavs and LeBron, but a healthy Indiana Pacers team could have wreaked havoc in the Finals against Golden State. Golden State may still win the series, but in a playoff series, I do think the field has been leveled by a team with one superstar and a few tough role players. -- Paul, Fort Lauderdale.

A: No, there was plenty of talent in the West, and I think if you rank the playoff teams based on pedigree, you would probably have the Cavs as well as five or six (or more) West teams in the mix. But that's the very point, that an East team doesn't have to beat all the West teams, just one. It is why the Heat are positioned for resurrection. While this Heat roster might not be good enough to contend at the top of the West, it could shape up as one that could challenge at the top of the East, and then have at least the puncher's chance this undermanned Cavaliers roster is having.

Q: Since when did attending a four-day class constitute graduating from Harvard? -- Howard.

A: When Dwyane Wade, a player who couldn't even qualify to play his first year at Marquette because of grades, steps up to take a four-day business class at Harvard Business School. It's a neat little story that's worth noting and having a little fun with. Any time you can note an NBA player in a scholastic setting, it sets a worthwhile example.

June 13, 2015

Q: "The team I was with." What a backhanded insult by LeBron James. What did the Heat management do so terrible to him, not letting his people run the show? If he loses this series, then it's still true his only titles are from "that team he was with." What's ironic is LeBron was critical of the Heat because they relied too much on him (to do the heavy lifting and too many minutes) and now his heavy lifting burden is even more with more minutes. It's almost as if someone brainwashed LeBron that Miami was so harsh and so terrible to him. He seems to forget the scathing letter that Dan Gilbert wrote about him. Pat Riley would never write such a letter. If anything, he would've praised LeBron and shown gratitude (if LeBron didn't leave in the way he did). -- Martin.

A: First, while I thought LeBron's comment was curious at the end of his Thursday press session, there are some who believe he was talking about all the teams he was with, Cleveland and Miami, that struggled to win in Boston during the playoffs. And I would almost bet that he will downplay the comment the first time he is asked. As for being relied upon for too much, not having Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving changed everything. He never envisioned these lineups when he returned to Cleveland. And with Dan Gilbert, it is odd how little he has been visible during the playoffs. I don't think that's by accident. But, again, the reality is that LeBron is bigger than the game. He's showing that in this series and showed it throughout the season. But the way he chose to turn this phrase was more than a bit intriguing.

Q: I think Goran Dragic should be the one to take a step back and take one for the team, not Dwyane Wade. And by doing it, it would be give the Heat a bit of space to work a deal out with Wade, don't you think? I don't see why Goran should be paid over Wade when he came in midseason. Your thoughts? -- George.

A: My thoughts are that because it is almost assured that both Dragic (for sure) and Wade (just about for sure) will opt out, it will allow Pat Riley to sit down with his contract proposals for the two in free agency side by side and figure out the best math for the team. Because Dragic wants to play alongside Wade, it could ease the split of the salary pie. But Dragic has far, far more leverage. And in the NBA, more leverage equals more salary.

Q: Do you believe that Shabazz Napier has the upside to be a decent rotation player down the road? -- Dave.

A: If he does what he said he hopes to achieve this offseason, and that's work on his shot and his quickness, he has a chance. Upgrading his percentage is doable. But adding more explosion is another story. As an undersized guard, Napier began the process at a deficit. Now it's a matter of finding enough to upgrade to overcome his physical shortcomings.

June 12, 2015

Q: Lost in all this talk about Dwyane Wade's value to the Heat and vice versa is Wade's value to the free market of advertising, which can come close to or even exceed what he makes as player and would continue for years after he's done. Wade being a "Heat Lifer" has a very definitive appeal on the national stage that bring in a ton of money for Dwyane.  If he leaves, won't he be risking some of this as well? -- Brian, Fort Lauderdale.

A: Quite the opposite. What LeBron James has shown with his move first to the Heat and then back to the Cavaliers is that America loves a star at the top of his game and at the top of the standings, regardless of where he plays, especially when he's winning. And much of the talk of marketing dollars is overstated beyond the singular star in any sport (in this case, LeBron). Salary still goes a long, long way toward a player's net worth. The contract is where the wealth starts. Then you build upon that. About the only impact of a Wade departure on his marketing might be in Miami, where his endorsements are somewhat limited. What Dwyane needs more than anything when it comes to branding is getting back on the national stage. At the crux of much of this talk about Wade's future is the question of whether the Heat can put him back on that national stage. It is much easier to take less when you know the results are going to be more. After a lottery season is when you tend to weigh wins vs. salary.