ASK IRA: What is Pat Riley's personnel timetable going forward?

July 4, 2014

Q: If Mike Miller were still on the roster, regardless of the NBA Finals outcome to this just-completed season, would we still be in wait mode with LeBron James? Is this mainly about that decision to amnesty a player he obviously wanted to keep? -- John.


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A: The simplistic answer is yes. The reality is that if cap space or roster flexibility was the concern, as Pat Riley said, then the move could have been made this offseason. No, it was about a significant luxury-tax savings, a move made with shrewd business sense in the wake of Miller's limited health and contributions. Was it shortsighted? In hindsight, absolutely. And LeBron reminded us of it almost nightly when Dwyane Wade was unavailable. The Arisons have gone above and beyond in their ownership of the Heat, but just like LeBron can have an off night, in retrospect the trust gained by retaining Miller would have been beneficial. The best way for the Heat to make the tax-savings approach worthwhile would be for the Heat to turn the $2.2 million Joel Anthony trade exception into something tangible, where the Heat could tell LeBron, "See what the tax savings got us?" As it is, if the Heat work with cap space this offseason, the Anthony trade exception will vanish.

Q: How would Anthony Morrow be any sort of improvement over James Jones? I don't get that one at all. Great spot-up shooter, but hardly a dynamic player. I'm not one of these fans under the illusion that we can make a major splash with the big names, but give me Jameer Nelson, Marvin Williams and Vince Carter or Shawn Marion before bothering with Morrow. I don't get that one at all. -- Mike.

A: It's all in the eye of the beholder, whether it's Pat Riley or LeBron James. Look, even Erik Spoelstra seemed to have a different view of James Jones than LeBron did. So clearly, if there is interest, it's because Riley would envision it as an upgrade. Cap space is way too precious to the Heat for any move not to be a tangible upgrade.

Q: I don't understand why LeBron or Wade and Chris Bosh have been silent. Do they blame Pat Riley, the Arisons and Spo for the team coming up short? Is LeBron that angry? The Heat won the Eastern Conference finals. Why isn't our core vocal about getting to the next level? What other team has been more successful than the Miami Heat in recent times? I'm not enjoying this offseason yet. -- Chet.

A: Yet. Free-agency is like Fourth of July fireworks. They hardly look impressive while still in their cases. Plenty of time remains for the Heat to fire things up.


July 3, 2014

Q: Ira, Carmelo Anthony has been (or is going to be) everywhere but with the Heat. Now, Pau Gasol is looking elsewhere. Why can't the Heat get anything going? -- Ed.

A: Look, this is not Game 6 of the Spurs' series, where everything is continuing to careen out of control. This is free agency, a game played at its own pace, with plenty of twists and turns. Remember, it was four years and one week ago when the panic alarm was sounding amid word that Dwyane Wade would be leaving the Heat to sign with the Bulls. Except it never happened. On the other hand, just because a player is linked to the Heat doesn't mean the Heat prioritized the player. Marcin Gortat, for example, wasn't one that got away. The Heat simply never had a chance to get to him, with the Wizards closing the deal before the Heat could bid. And there is plenty of reason for outside executives to paint a portrait of a Heat breakup, especially when they're courting the same players as the Heat. "Sources" sometimes say the darndest things, especially when it's to their  advantage.

Q: With the cap room the Heat have now, could they make a trade where they just accept players and salary equal to that cap space, where another team wants to move that salary off their books? -- Mike.

A: Absolutely. And that's a facet many have overlooked. The question is whether an outside team would help facilitate the Heat. Actually, they could have dealt for Omer Asik had the Rockets waited, and maybe they should have.

Q: How come there has been zero news on Chris Kaman? He can score, rebound, and averaged a block a game. I would take him on the Heat for cheap. He'll make our team even more 2003. -- Steve.

A: Does that mean they have to add Darko, also? Kaman is the type of name who is more an end-game name, when minimums are the order of the day. He did have more than a few shaky moments for the Lakers last season, which makes one wonder whether it was a matter of fit or slippage.


July 2, 2014

Q: Ira, do the Big Three each have a few different contract permutations in place, dependent upon who Pat Riley is able to land? -- Jason.

A: Absolutely. And they have to, for this reason: Too much in free agency is fluid to say you need "X" amount of money to close any particular deal or deals. Plus, the league is very, very careful when it comes to collusion. And the last thing you want to advertise is that you have prearranged deals already in place. It's just like at the trading deadline: The other side is always trying to get a little bit more. Can you imagine the outrage from any of the Big Three if they find out Riley came up short on a targeted free agent over a measly few thousand? And the last thing the Heat would want anyone to know is how much space they're actually working with, since many free-agent negotiations work along the lines of: "What do you want?" "Well, what do you got?" Riley has parameters. The final say still belongs to LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade.