November 26, 2014
Q: I'm all for signing Hassan Whiteside if he can contribute, but didn't Shannon Brown just start two games because of injuries to Dwyane Wade and Norris Cole? Unless the Heat are planning on signing another player soon, they look awfully thin at the guard positions. -- David.
A: I agree that right now the roster is out of balance, with seven of the 15 spots held by players in the power rotation, when counting Chris Bosh, Shawne Williams, Josh McRoberts, Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem, Justin Hamilton and Whiteside. It will be interesting to see what happens at the Dec. 1 deadline, when Hamilton is due the next installment on his guarantee. But with the ongoing concerns with Wade, there has to be something more than Andre Dawkins as the lone true shooting guard in reserve. Perhaps the Heat now see that as a reasonable spot for James Ennis, who had his moments there on Tuesday night against the Warriors. The problem with only playing Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier at guard is what we saw when Golden State simply had Shaun Livingston consistently take Chalmers into the post. The Heat need more length or bulk in their backcourt rotation.
Q: I like the current youth movement. Of course, no one knows if Whiteside or Hamilton will be difference makers, but seeing this team get big and young under the basket should be fun. And they released Brown and kept the rookie Dawkins, am I reading too much into this? -- Chet.
A: I think the move was made as much for what Brown wasn't as what Dawkins is. More than anything, I think it's a realization that Birdman isn't what he used to be and that another rim protector had to be added, thus a somewhat long-term commitment to Whiteside. But it is interesting that the Heat for two years had their eyes on Whiteside but instead worked through the development process first with Jarvis Varnado and now with Hamilton, even drafting Dexter Pittman ahead of Whiteside. I still think filling needs remains more of a priority than development a youth program. And if you truly favor a youth movement, then you have to accept games like Tuesday, when the lack of closing experience cost the Heat.
Q: Is Wade actually planning to play anytime soon? I thought that they were selling this initially as not as serious as last year? -- Stu.
A: First, no one knows how serious last season was with the knees, because just about all of his absences were precautionary. And among the reasons he has missed seven games is because how tightly these games have been packed, including two sets of back-to-backs. I think the schedule actually is the reason he was given Tuesday off, with the four-day break to follow. I would expect that he returns Sunday in New York against the Knicks. If he's not back then, then the concern meter should move to a higher level.
November 25, 2014
Q: Norris Cole for Dion Waiters. Beneficial for both teams. Good backup at shooting guard for the Heat, plus more and consistent minutes for Shabazz Napier. Would you go for it if you were to decide for Miami? How about if for Cavs? Is this possible? -- Frances, Philippines.
A: While I don't usually address rumors (and I'm not even sure this is a rumor), I've been asked about the permutation often enough that I might as well bite. But I preface it with this: There has been absolutely no known discussion, nor even word of potential interest by either of the sides. Beyond that, the Heat are in a comfortable cap position with Cole playing under an expiring contract for $2 million this season, with the Heat in position to match outside offers in restricted free agency next summer. Waiters, by contrast, is due $4.1 million this season and $5.1 million next season, so the Heat would have to find a way to send enough out to make such a deal work under the cap. (And just about any "extra" salary for the Heat would not be tradable by the Heat until at least Dec. 15.) Beyond all of that, Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley often talk about "a Heat type of player," and I'm not sure Waiters would fill that mold. But you (and others who have mentioned the possibility) are correct that it could address issues for both teams. But unless the Cavaliers get comfortable with Mike Miller or James Jones, the reality is that they might actually need Waiters.
Q: Ira, what is going on with the Danny Granger situation, can you shed some light on this? He claims to be rejuvenated and ready to go, but he can't even crack the rotation. Thoughts? -- Daniel, New York.
A: The Heat are taking the slow-go approach with Granger, just as they did with Mike Miller and Shane Battier when they had similar muscular issues. I think Granger starting a week ago in Brooklyn took everyone by surprise, but I think the plan for the short term is to utilize Granger only when needed, and then hope to have more minutes banked for the second half of the season. I still view Granger as instrumental to any playoff or even playoff-race success for the Heat. They need another wing scorer, especially amid the uncertainty with Dwyane Wade. Granger currently is being held out because of his rehab, not because he can't crack the rotation.
Q: Forget about nicknames and first names on those Christmas Day jerseys. The NBA should just put everyone's salary on them. -- David.
A: Not enough room. That would be like putting Antetokounmpo on everyone's jersey.
November 24, 2014
Q: Mario Chalmers still thinks he is the best player on the floor. And with his move to shooting guard, it's sometimes hard to argue with him. -- Paul, Sunrise.
A: I think without the responsibilities of having to facilitate as much for others, or cover the backcourt when a shot goes up, it has been liberating for Chalmers. For years, I have pointed to his innate ability to get to the rim and his passive approach too often against doing so. When Chalmers attacks, or, for that matter any player attacks, it gets the defense moving, which opens opportunities for others. Chalmers in attack mode is significant. The problem is the aggression with his ballhandling far from the basket sometimes gets him in trouble, as it almost did (actually did) near the end of the game against Charlotte.
Q: The Dwyane Wade situation is getting old. Chris Bosh can't be expected to carry this team by himself. -- Faye.