Q: I'm not going to debate Shannon Brown with you, because I can't remember seeing him last season. But I do know he has the same contract as Rodney Stuckey. So did someone fall asleep at the switch? -- Bertram.
Q: Is there a chance Wade could return to his prime form? He isn't that old, right? -- Joe, Tallahassee.
A: He turns 33 in January, which is not exactly young for a player whose game is based on explosion. Basically this is when we will see how much Kobe Bryant, how much defiance to age, Wade has in him.
August 30, 2014
Q: Nothing this summer has given me any real hope we have a shot. -- Robert.
A: A shot at what? At a championship? At a return to the NBA Finals? At a competitive season? At compelling basketball on most nights? Look, this is where, for all he has accomplished as a coach and executive, I blame Pat Riley for his trite winning-or-misery perspective. If a championship is the only acceptable result, I suggest taking in a movie on game nights. One team wins a championship, so the other 29 don't have "a shot"? Yes, the NBA is as predictable as any league when it comes to forecasting the last teams standing, and it hardly was prophetic to predict the Heat, Pacers, Spurs and Thunder as last season's final four. But I would go the other way when it comes to a feeling of doom. Plenty of other teams would cash out after losing a player like LeBron James. The Heat instead circled back to Luol Deng and then went out and spent as much as any team this offseason. What the Heat have "a shot" with this coming season is being competitive in every regular-season game and being a tough out in the playoffs. There are worse ways to spend at least six months of your time.
Q: I will agree with your positive outlook on the breakup as soon as I see another player wearing Heat jersey No. 6 this coming season. Such action would be a clear message that, yes, we, too, see it as a mutually satisfactory four-year relationship that ran its course, that we enjoyed it while it lasted, now you got your No. 23 back and we got our No. 6 back. No harm done; all good. Can you ask my fellow readers where their heart is on the get-No. 6-back ballot? -- Ari, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
A: You just did. I'm just not sure anyone would want to be the next Heat player to wear No. 6, at least this soon after LeBron's departure. (And I still think, when numbers are retired down the road, when the parties have moved on, that the numbers of LeBron James and Shaquille O'Neal still aren't eventually retired by the Heat.)
Q: Any possibility of Danny Granger coming back as anything close to the All-Star he once was? The Heat have one of the best training staffs. Granger could become a major component to this team off the bench. -- Gabriel, Miami.
A: Based on the depth the Heat have at small forward and shooting guard, they basically need that to happen. By agreeing with Granger so early in the free-agency process, it certainly has positioned the Heat with an entire summer to work with Granger on a rehab schedule.
August 29, 2014
Q: All of your arguments with signings like Shannon Brown are followed by "if" Dwyane Wade is healthy or "if" Danny Granger is back. I agree with that. However, this team should not be going forward like this. It's too risky. We need a better backup for Wade and the need at point guard has not been addressed, which was a glaring deficiency in the Finals. I know Pat Riley is not done, and as much as I hope D.W. is healthy, it makes no sense to risk the season on "ifs." -- Chet.
A: "Ifs" are what every team that's not the favorite carry into the season. I'm sure last year at this time the concerns in San Antonio included "if" the Spurs aren't too old, the caution in Oklahoma City was "if" Russell Westbrook could stay healthy, the worry in Chicago was "if" Derrick Rose could last an entire season. As for point guard, the worry a year ago was "if" Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole were good enough to get the Heat back to the Finals.
Q: Face it, to this point Pat Riley has done a very questionable job in putting together a bench that makes sense. You know better. Let's hope James Ennis or somebody unexpected will emerge. -- Matt.
A: All teams have flaws. What I know is that with Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts, this team is better set 1-2 in the power rotation than it has been in years. And Shabazz Napier has a winning pedigree, so don't sell him short in the backcourt rotation. Perhaps he's your "bonus" addition. And there still are names and time out there. For every Leandro Barbosa that has come off the board, there still is a Jordan Crawford. And there also will be plenty of buyout names as camps draw closer, Jason Richardson potentially among them.
Q: I think what is frustrating for Miami Heat fans is that in some weird way it feels as though the last four years didn't exist. It is as though they have been erased from NBA memory. Does that make sense? Of course they haven't, and we have great memories. But LeBron James is gone and he was such a big part of the team. LeBron became an NBA champion with the Heat, attacked all the way through, and now back with Cleveland he is loved! Instead of the media writing about will the Heat make a record fifth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals (and this is how the 2014-2015 team compares to the prior years' teams.), we are still in a bit of a daze even though we understand why LeBron left. -- Stuart.