Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 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.

Photos: Seminole Hard Rock Winterfest Boat Parade

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.

A: It seems the Heat's reality for these next two seasons will be to try to remain afloat when Wade is out, and then attack the schedule when Wade is available. But, as with any injury, it will be interesting to see where Wade stands when he returns. If there is going to be an extended readjustment period each time he returns, then the absences take a much larger toll on the overall record. For now, it's been one injury. The real issue is how long before the next. The Wade Watch has become the Heat's reality.

Q: Am I the only one who really sees the long-term approach with this team? There's still a lot of talent on this team, but everyone is still trying to get healthy and learn each other. To quote Erik Spoelstra, this is still about the "process." We still have two future Hall of Famers, in Wade and Bosh, two extremely high IQ starters, in Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng, a young point guard, in Shabazz Napier, who, in my mind, will be in the top half of point guards by the end of the season, a sixth man, in Mario Chalmers, who's proving his worth and only getting more comfortable with his role, and Chris Andersen, Udonis Haslem, Danny Granger and James Ennis who can provide at least a little something in their limited minutes. They're in a good spot. I can see them making a bit of a run toward the end of the season, so even if they stay at .500 'til the All-Star break, that'd be a good place to be. Once the playoffs hit, the hope is that continuity will be there and they have the talent to compete with any other team in the East, including the Bulls and Cavs. Heat fans should've known that this wasn't going to be easy, but it'll still be fun! -- Martin, Los Angeles.

A: I agree with your point of hanging near .500 and then hoping for one or two big moves that can push the record north and improve the seeding. But there still are many, many, many questions left to be answered.

November 23, 2014

Q: Is Birdman old or disinterested? He hasn't been the same this season. -- Clifford.

A: No, he hasn't, and at times it's very noticeable. I don't think it's a matter of having grown content (at least I would hope that is not the case). Perhaps it's a matter of working back from the rib injury the first week of the season. Perhaps it's being 36. But this team has precious little rim deterrence outside of Chris Andersen, and if he's not playing as a last line of defense, then the Heat often can be defenseless in the middle. But let's face it, the Heat got themselves into a tough position when they basically offered a makeup contract to Andersen for $10 million over two years after he played the previous two seasons at the minimum. In a way, it is similar to the money being spent on Udonis Haslem. The reality is that if Andersen can't offer something in the defensive paint, then the Heat will have to act. I'm not saying it's time to make a move for a Joel Anthony type, but there has to come a time when the Heat make an unemotional, and non-financial, assessment on Andersen. Or, of course, start getting more out of him.

Q: I thought Josh McRoberts was going to bring a "unique" skill set of a big man with excellent passing, outside shooting, as well as being durable. I have not seen any of these yet. I'm not giving up on him so early, but is it time to expect more? -- David, Plantation.

A: Considering he missed all of training camp, then had the blister issue recently, I think he's still trying to find a way, trying to get in rhythm. There was one point during the first half Saturday when he passed up an open 15-foot jumper to instead pass to Andersen for a 15-foot jumper. Another time he passed the ball through his legs and out of bounds between the legs of James Ennis. Look, this might not be the answer you want to hear, but considering what the Heat invested in McRoberts, they have to make it work. The irony is that the Hornets, who face the Heat on Sunday, could dearly use McRoberts as a catalyst, as he was last season in their drive to the playoffs. Instead, the Hornets signed Marvin Williams to replace McRoberts. It was interesting how Erik Spoelstra spoke of wanting to get McRoberts more time on Thursday against the Clippers, then utilized him for only 5:14 against the Magic.

Q: Norris Cole's dislocated middle left finger came while flexing it at LeBron James. -- Richard.

A: Actually, Cole might be among the last players to have that attitude toward LeBron. In fact, he might make sense as potential upgrade to the Cavaliers' backcourt. Oh, and he is represented by LeBron's agent, Rich Paul.