October 1, 2014
Q: Probably don't want to dwell on the past too much, but seeing your recent article regarding the Mike Miller amnesty got me thinking: What if they had used the amnesty clause on Joel Anthony instead? Of course, they eventually dumped Anthony anyways, but maybe if he had been amnestied, and Miller had stayed healthy, things might have turned out very differently. -- Adrian.
Q: Yes, in hindsight it was a mistake to amnesty Miller. But at the time he was always injured and the Heat needed flexibility thanks to the CBA that Dan Gilbert voted for. So he should really blame the Cavaliers owner. -- Yunasi.
A: It is a story with many angles and twists, including the reality that Mike not only was braced for his amnesty release in 2013, but expected it as early as 2012, putting his home on the market at that point. And his injury history was a concern, and a reality. If you remember, his people put it out there after his 2013 amnesty release that he might need back surgery, which, ironically, apparently was done to scare off the Cavaliers at the time. But it also seems a bit disingenuous for the Heat to now turn on the #HeatLifer campaign in the wake of what happened with Mike. It certainly wasn't that the Heat didn't have roster space for him. And #HeatLifer certainly didn't save Joel Anthony. Look, revisionist history, like catch phrases, are not what it's about at this stage. It's about what comes next. What happened with LeBron James and Mike Miller is history. It's what the Heat make of their future, and that is about more than #HeatLife or #HeatNation hashtags. Those are for the marketing division. What matters most is the basketball.
Q: Ira, love the new title photo of "Ask Ira"! My question is, Wade said maybe last year or two years ago that three rings was all he wanted when he entered the league and the rest would be "icing on the cake." Do you think he still has that fire in him that he certainly lacked in the Finals, or will he just play hard but not sacrifice for something he sees as just a bonus? Thanks. -- James, Fort Lauderdale.
A: First, it's funny how the new photo distorts things to make it look like I don't have hair, but that's another story. As for your question, I don't think it has anything to do with "fire" or "sacrifice" with Wade. I think it comes down to whether the body is willing. Dwyane certainly could not have wanted to go out like he did last season. And I think he has visions of offering reminders of what he once was. The question now is whether he still has it in him. We'll know soon enough.
Q: Will the Miami Heat coaching staff and organization catalyze on James Ennis' skills and experience? I am looking forward to enjoying the excitement of his game. Is it time the Heat organization develops their own LeBron James? I would be very disappointed if Ennis spends most of his time on the bench wasting his great talent and skills. -- Stefanie, Margate.
A: First of all, I think you need to step back from any LeBron comparisons or anything about "great talents and skills" for a former second-round pick yet to play his first NBA game. James is still very raw, even with his seasoning in Australia, and further seasoning in the NBA Development League might be one answer. If Danny Granger is ready for the start of the regular season, then the Heat probably will not see a need to fast track James. He has promise, but at the moment, that's all.
September 30, 2014
Q: Do you think that the Heat have enough depth going into the season to beat big-name teams like the Cavaliers or the Bulls in the postseason? -- Joseph, Plantation.
A: This is where the Heat and I disagree, and, to a degree, I hope that I'm wrong, that enough of the players added to the mix pan out and that a Shawne Williams or Reggie Williams or Shannon Brown offer unexpected surprise. The Heat's way of thinking is that Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger have been added, and that those moves are part of bolstering the depth. My thought is that it will take at least two of those players, if even possible, to offset most of what was lost with the loss of LeBron James. Deng is rock solid, but I don't consider him part of the "depth." And considering McRoberts likely will start, I don't consider him part of the depth, either. Look, I'm not overstating what was lost. Michael Beasley and Greg Oden did not contribute when it mattered. Nor for that matter did James Jones, Rashard Lewis or Toney Douglas get much of a chance. Shane Battier dropped off to the point where he recognized that retirement was the proper reality. And even Ray Allen dropped off enough to consider stepping away from the game, as well. But Dwyane Wade is a year older, and Chris Andersen turned 36 in July. So an argument could be made that even more depth is needed than last season. Again, whether it's the minimum-scale journeymen I mentioned or perhaps some of the kids -- like James Ennis, Justin Hamilton or Shabazz Napier -- there certainly is the possibility of an infusion of quality depth. That is what the next month, and beyond, is about.
Q: What are the concerns with Granger and McRoberts recuperating from surgery this offseason? Will this affect the chemistry and most importantly will they be ready to go when the preseason begins? -- Adrian, Las Vegas.
A: Any time a player comes off surgery, no matter how supposedly minor, it always is a concern. And this just makes it harder to weave players into a new system, to develop needed chemistry in advance of the season. The Heat tend to be cautious with such matters, so I'd expect the regular season to be more of a goal than the preseason. The Heat need McRoberts (toe surgery) and Granger (a knee scope) to be productive. And with the Heat's place in the East so tenuous, every regular-season game figures to matter.
Q: Do you think the Heat will keep three point guards all season? I don't see the organization keeping Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier, especially if Napier transitions to the game well. -- Dale, Sunrise.
A: First, you're talking to someone who for years has championed -- mostly unsuccessfully -- the Heat carrying three point guards. I think it only makes sense, now more than ever, without LeBron James' ballhandling to compensate. It also could come down to how much the Heat utilize Chalmers at shooting guard. But I think that is overstated, since Erik Spoelstra previously often had played Chalmers and Cole in tandem. And if Napier develops, it finally would give the Heat additional trade chips that can be put into play. I think it's important that all three prove capable of contributing to this reshuffled Heat mix.
September 29, 2014