Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)

Q: Is there any way to guess what the Heat would have looked like going into the playoffs had LeBron James stayed? We know that Luol Deng wouldn't have been here, but would Hassan Whiteside still have been discovered? Would the Goran Dragic trade have happened? LeBron should have trusted Pat Riley to build a new team around him. It's what he does. -- Dave, Placentia, Calif.

A: No. Because with LeBron, everything changes, including the players he would want to play alongside. And I'm not sure he would have been patient with such a raw Whiteside. I also doubt the Heat would have committed the draft choices for Dragic with LeBron in place. But it's all also moot. The best thing the Heat did this past season was not look back. As rough as it got, you rarely heard anything close to woe-is-we.

Q: Ira, have we made it to the next era of Heat teams? When Dwyane Wade retires, will Chris Bosh, Whiteside and Dragic still be here? -- Jason.

A: I don't understand the rush to write off Wade. Yes, he is not the same player as a decade ago, but he remains one of the more productive shooting guards in the league. Basically, Wade, Bosh and Dragic are in a similar enough age group that you ride out all three. There is a decided gap between those three and any next generation for the Heat, with Whiteside the only player potentially in such a grouping.

May 3, 2015

Q: The Executive of the Year vote has to irk Pat Riley. Mitch Kupchak and Sam Hinkie got votes, while Riley did not get one single vote? The discovery of Hassan Whiteside and acquisition of Goran Dragic did not impress anyone outside Miami. The results have to sting Riley's ego. -- Leonard.

A: I have to admit that when the results of that vote were released, I did not give much thought to the Heat's front office being bypassed, without a vote in the balloting of league executives. But then I read your thoughts and agree that when looking back at what the Heat's front office accomplished, you would think there would have been more respect for the body of the work than what the Lakers and 76ers (Kupchak and Hinkie) didn't accomplish. Most in the league agreed that the Heat won the trade deadline with the acquisition of Goran Dragic (provided they now retain him in free agency). And many would agree that Whiteside was the best value acquisition of the season (every team had the opportunity to sign him, and the Grizzlies actually cut him during the season). Granted, the Heat were limited with what they got out of the draft in Shabazz Napier, but few also saw them recovering to sign Luol Deng after losing LeBron James. Then again, when you lose LeBron, your personnel ledger can't help but be at a deficit. Still, among the reasons the Heat struggled, I wouldn't put personnel as a primary reason, even as injuries robbed the opportunity to see the possibilities of Josh McRoberts.

Q: In the draft, there's only three players Riley should target: Emmanuel Mudiay, D'Angelo Russell and Kelly Oubre. -- Aura.

A: Unless the Heat jump into one of the first three selections (their only other potential landing spots other than No. 10), they won't be in position for Mudiay or Russell, and I think No. 10 is too early for Oubre. If you're looking for a wing at No. 10, Arizona's Stanley Johnson stands as a possibility. Of course, until the May 19 lottery, all the speculation is premature. There remains that pesky nine-percent chance of not having a first-round pick at all.

Q: Why can't the Heat receive the Nos. 4-9 picks? I'm trying to figure this out and all I am coming up with is the pick is Top 10 protected. -- Jeff.

A: Because in the lottery, only the first three picks are determined by the random-but-weighted draw. After that, the remaining first-round positions are determined by inverse order of record. So the only places the Heat could "jump" to would be No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3. Beyond that, they would either remain at No. 10, or slip back if one of the remaining teams in the lottery leapfrogs them into one of the first three picks. In that case, because the pick is only Top 10 protected, it would go to the 76ers, as per terms of a previous Heat trade. 

May 2, 2015

Q: The Celtics and Bucks show promise for next season. I bring that up because many comments cite how dangerous the Heat's starting five is, without taking into account the other teams are quite talented also. Winning a championship is not done in a vacuum, but relative to how dangerous other teams are. And some of the teams are really good. -- Leonard, Aventura.

A: I agree that once you put Jabari Parker back into Milwaukee's mix that there is no reason not to believe that the Bucks won't have a winning record next season, and likely even more. I'm not as sold on the Celtics, only because they still don't have that A-list star to build around (but certainly do have enough draft picks they can put into play to land one). Look, the Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks and Wizards all have displayed a depth of talent that makes it clear they are not going anywhere anytime soon. It's against that backdrop the Heat have to show what they can do with Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside playing together for the first time. Again, lineups are only names until they come together. I mean look at the Nets, you can make an argument that on paper Brook Lopez, Thaddeus Young, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and perhaps a free-agent addition could compete with anyone.

Q: How about best-of-41 for Spurs-Clippers? -- Stuart.

A: Can't say I'd have an issue with that, other than getting the majority of the games to start earlier than 10:45 p.m. on the East Coast. I'm also not sure there will be a more compelling series that balance of this postseason. Of course, many also forget that the Spurs also had to go seven in the first round last year, when they held off the Mavericks on the way to the 2014 championship.

Q: Pat Riley is looking internationally? Yep, this is serious business. -- Max.

A: It's a good sign to see Riley and his staff making the trip, with it likely that a pair of Top 10 picks will be coming out of the Spanish League. It's just crazy how the Heat have to go through weeks of scouting, including the Chicago pre-draft camp, without knowing until the May 19 draft lottery whether they'll even have a first-round pick. These certainly are unusual times for Riley and the Heat.

May 1, 2015

Q: Do you expect a Dorell Wright reunion? I do. He's a low-cost bench player who fits a need. -- Martin.