A: Exactly. I've always believed the easiest way for the NBA to break the union is to offer a deal with an elevated minimum salary. If the minimum with a possible $80 million team cap is raised to $2 million or even $3 million, that would create enough votes to pass any collective-bargaining agreement, no matter how onerous the remaining terms, including a possible hard cap. Far more players than ever have been playing at the minimum. Raise their salaries and a majority is easily attainable for a new CBA, if needed.
October 11, 2014
Q: What's your opinion of how James Ennis has been playing so far, and have the Heat also been impressed by what Ennis has done so far? -- Brian, Mountain View, Calif.
A: I've been very, very impressed with the skill set he offers. I've also taken into account that much of his play has come against opponents who might not be in the league this season. But in many ways he already looks like he might have more upside than Shabazz Napier, who is close to a finished product. For years we've heard about the Heat's development culture. It will be fascinating now to see where that development program takes Ennis. The Heat failed to bring out a consistent NBA game in Michael Beasley (as did many teams); now they get a second chance in Ennis.
Q: It must be heart-wrenching to be Erik Spoelstra right now. After watching him during the Magic-Heat game, just from observation it looks like he absolutely despises having to play people he knows won't make the roster to see exactly what he has in them. I'd like to see Spo shorten the rotation already (even though it's preseason) so he can build continuity and chemistry with players he knows he will actually play, especially now with so many new faces. On another note, he keeps talking about James Ennis like he's definitely headed to the D-League (with all the D-League banter, "We hope he grows and learns the system," etc.). I realize Spo hates playing the young guys, but these next two years he will have to change that philosophy so the Heat organization can grow from within. -- George, Toronto.
A: A few things: Erik Spoelstra has three championship rings; little will be "heart-wrenching" going forward. And he doesn't "despise" playing anyone; it's all part of the preseason. But he already has trimmed his rotation, based on the lack of minutes for Reggie Williams, Tyler Johnson and Andre Dawkins. And I think he has done that because of the exact continuity you mention, trying to work in newcomers like Luol Deng, Danny Granger and, eventually, Josh McRoberts. He also doesn't "hate" playing young guys, and I believe he very much is intrigued by Ennis. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with D-League seasoning for Ennis, Napier or some of the other young players. Until Oct. 29, the stress level is going to be a bit lower than you portray. After that? Well, that's another story.
Q: So is Udonis Haslem going to pop LeBron James? -- Mark.
A: Um, no. Udonis, in fact, long has been a player who has maintained relationships with former teammates long after they depart, including the one he had with Shaquille O'Neal after his banishment from the Heat. And, frankly, anyone who takes shots at anyone during the preseason is foolish, considering the regular-season consequences. Example A is Nene now being forced to miss the Heat's season opener for the Wizards.
October 10, 2014
Q: Ira, does this mean the Michael Beasley questions will end now. Or will they just come from China? -- Ollie.
A: Funny. Everyone is a Beasley comedian. But it will be curious if he buys into the system any better over there. The reality is that for all of those who called for the Heat to sign Beasley, Andray Blatche and Jordon Crawford this offseason, all three are now in China. What I do disagree with are all those who talk about Michael's "squandered athleticism." Michael is less athletic than many believe. What he is is a skilled player. What he hasn't been able to do is translate those skills into the NBA game. But like Blatche and Crawford, he could benefit by the schedule in China that ends in March. That makes most of those playing in China eligible to return to the NBA for the end of regular season and playoffs. So perhaps the final chapter has not been written about Michael.
Q: Ira, I realize it is ridiculously early, however I do not see any lift or explosion from Dwyane Wade. Will he be relegated to simply a mid-range jump shooter? -- Brian, Boca Raton.
A: It is early. And the one thing Dwyane has been prudent about is pacing himself, especially during the preseason. What I do know is that if Dwyane plays solely as a jump shooter, he is not as good as many jumper shooters at that position. For the Heat system to work, Dwyane has to be able to attack the rim, draw in the defense. The best way for Dwyane to get to the rim might be by cutting off the ball. The question is whether there is anyone to get him the ball, in light of the Heat's play at point guard. Keep an eye on Josh McRoberts as a possible facilitator to Wade. McRoberts' passing could potentially help revive Wade.
Q: Once Mario Chalmers is trade-eligible in December, can you see the Heat trying to trade him and either Norris Cole or Shabazz Napier for Rajon Rondo? How about Ricky Rubio? Would there be mutual interest? -- Abel, Miami.
A: The Celtics would expect far, far more for Rondo than just about anything the Heat could offer. Boston would want young prospects and quality draft picks, neither of which the Heat have available. And I think it's too early to give up on Cole or Napier. Say what you want about whether Cole can be a starter, but he remains a quality burst of energy off the bench. As for Rubio, the Timberwolves almost have to re-sign him to retain any credibility. And that said, I'm not sure how good he is in today's NBA game, where shooting means plenty.
October 9, 2014