August 9, 2014
Q: I realize what life is like at the minimum, but there are better players than the ones Heat are signing recently, with more NBA experience, players that are also taking the minimum for worse teams. Why isn't Pat Riley targeting these guys in the hopes that he can sign better players to round out the roster? I feel like he is submitting the Heat to mediocrity with zero chance of making it to the Eastern Conference finals. There are still good names out there like Elton Brand, Chris Douglas-Roberts and Jordan Crawford. Is it safe to say that the chances of us landing any of those guys is almost zero with the roster at 16? -- George, Toronto.
A: Not at all. Here's the deal: Last season, and in recent seasons, the Heat were so hard up against the luxury tax that every dollar spent or every player released with guaranteed money became especially costly. Now, by initially operating below the cap this offseason, it would be practically impossible for the Heat to get back into the tax. In other words, there is far greater flexibility to either eat some guaranteed money or add additional veterans at the minimum. There still is time to add the players you mentioned, and almost no reason to back off from such spending if those options become amenable.
Q: This staff certainly has its work cut out with so many new pieces added, and they're young and inexperienced. -- Chet.
A: This will again be a time when the Heat's developmental program will be put to the test. And that's not a bad thing, either, creating the types of contributors or "chips" that could add roster value. There is a reason teams have so many coaches; this is one of those reasons, a roster that features players with room to grow.
Q: Hello Ira, I am very happy for Tim Hardaway getting a coaching opportunity with the Pistons. Yet I am wondering why he never joined the Heat coaching staff. Can you please elaborate on it? Thanks. -- Paul, Miami.
A: When Erik Spoelstra arrived, he essentially inherited the staff Pat Riley had in place. As he developed his own approach, he was afforded greater leeway to bring his own preferences to the staff, including David Fizdale and Dan Craig. The staff simply did not evolve in Hardaway's direction. That said, I credit Stan Van Gundy for turning to players who had been loyal to him, including Hardaway, Malik Allen and Quentin Richardson from Stan's Heat days.
August 8, 2014
Q: So Cleveland gets Kevin Love and we get Reggie Williams? We are done here. Nothing left to see. I guess one Williams, in Shawne Williams, is not enough. -- Julio.
A: This is what life is like at the minimum. The Heat's hope clearly is that they maximized their post-LeBron James salary-cap space with Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Mario Chalmers and Danny Granger, and their limited exception space with Udonis Haslem and Chris Andersen. The generosity to Chalmers and Haslem left them with no option but to scour the minimum depths, with hopes that Shawne Williams and Reggie Williams might be able to offer something. There also remains the possibility of putting Norris Cole into play in a trade. The reality is the Cavaliers benefited by lottery picks, while the Heat were going out in the two years before LeBron and actually trying to win games, advancing to the playoffs in each of the two pre-LeBron seasons.
Q: Ira, why can the Cavs pay three max salaries, but if the Heat were going to keep the Big Three together they couldn't do so? -- Joel.
A: The Heat could have and would have. What they didn't have the ability to do was add additional quality pieces while also paying LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Had LeBron been willing to bend, then it was clear the Wade and Bosh would have done so, as well. But once LeBron insisted on the maximum salary, the Heat's model was limited to exception money. Now the question is whether Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving (and even David Blatt) can provide LeBron a playoff payoff with their zero NBA playoff experience.
Q: I bet Ray Allen will decide on Cleveland now. I'm almost sure he was waiting on the Kevin Love deal to be final. -- J.B.
A: You're probably right. The irony is that James Jones therefore won't get to play again as teammate to Ray, LeBron and Mike Miller.
August 7, 2014
Q: Tyler Johnson? Ira, I know you said that gives the Heat 14 players, but Pat Riley can't possibly be finished, can he? Where's our backup center, our point guard, our 3-pointer shooters? -- Nate.