August 28, 2014

Q: Hi Ira, Shannon Brown? He's not a rotation player, by any means. He's a decent defender, and a horrible shooter. He's a 10-day-contract type of player. The bizarre free-agent signings continue. I'm hoping we get Leandro Barbosa after the World Cup is over. If healthy, he can help. -- Matt.

A: As I've continued to stress, these signings are ancillary to the top of the rotation. What matters in the NBA is the top eight. So it comes down to whether you believe a player added supplants one of: Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Luol Deng, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen, Danny Granger or Norris Cole. Otherwise, what you want are specialists, players who do one thing well, whether it is 3-point shooting, rebounding or defending. So with Brown, the hope has to be that the Heat have added a guard who can come off the bench as a stopper. Reggie Williams, Shawne Williams and Shannon Brown are about emergency depth. What the Heat have to hope is that Wade is healthy enough to play an entire season and that Danny Granger is what Pat Riley has been telling us Granger still can be.

Q: So much for Leandro Barbosa or Jordan Crawford, huh? -- Bryan, Mountain View.

A: Not necessarily. Remember, the Heat are operating well below the luxury tax, so there is minimal impact on offering minimal salaries. The question is whether Crawford sees himself in that neighborhood. I still believe that Barbosa, at this stage of his career, if healthy, has more upside for the Heat than Brown. Of course, if Barbosa shows anything at the World Cup, the Heat wouldn't be in position to outbid. Until Barbosa signs somewhere, or shows physical limitation, he should remain on the Heat's radar.

Q: Why not Andray Blatche indeed? He keeps a summer home near Miami. It would be great for the team. And he fits on the type of big Miami is usually after. -- Ryan, Naples.

A: I'm not sure about the last part, considering the liability aspect on defense. But, again, at the minimum, the price is almost always right.



August 27, 2014

Q: Ira, all week you've been talking about the Heat lacking a rim protector and that's why the defense needs to be better. So what about Hasheem Thabeet now that he's going to be released by Philly? -- Thad.

A: There is a reason Thabeet has bounced from team to team in recent years, and much of it is that he simply has not panned into an NBA player. You could make an argument that Joel Anthony at the moment could do more for the Heat's defense than Thabeet. But, again, this latest deal between Oklahoma City and Philadelphia is further evidence that there still could be several names that shake free, either through buyouts or releases, prior to the start of training camp. There is something to be said about patience at this stage. As it is, the Heat likely have accounted for their first eight, anyway, when counting Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts, Luol Deng, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen, Danny Granger and Norris Cole. What you're looking for at this stage are specialists. So it comes down to whether you still view Thabeet as enough of a defensive specialist.

Q: Playing "Pat Riley" for a second, you're the GM of the Heat and you need to fill out these last spots. Who does Ira the GM see as the best free agents left to fill in for the Heat and who would you choose? -- Nick, Coral Spring.

A: Putting aside Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe, since restricted free agents are beyond the Heat's means, I certainly would consider Andray Blatche and hope the Heat resurrection program still has one more reclamation project left in it. And I've been on record that there is something tempting about Jordan Crawford's streak scoring. But, again, it comes down to whether either would be amenable to the veteran minimum, since that's all the Heat have left to offer. I think what I'd be more prone to do is wait through at least some of training camp to see if Shabazz Napier is ready for NBA minutes. If he is, then Cole and his $2 million contract could possibly be put into play in a trade.

Q: Ira, it is a normal reaction based on the following to be depressed as a Heat fan? 1. Wade (knee issue and I am not sure why he didn't lose weight last year as more than one NBA TV commentator noticed it). 2. Bosh (seems to not to have the killer instinct like a LeBron or Wade has). 3. Chalmers (not sure where is head is at some games). 4. LeBron (Did he just win GM of the year award?). -- C.C., Key Biscayne.

A: Depressed? Depressed is what Cavaliers fans endured the past four years: falling to the bottom of the standings and finding yourself in Northeast Ohio in February. Every roster, including LeBron's current one in Cleveland, has players with warts. Each of the Heat players you mentioned also has enough skill to create hope. As for LeBron's management skills, what this league has shown is that it is better to have players broker deals, since they are not under the same contact restrictions as management.



August 26, 2014

Q: I know Leandro Barbosa and Jordan Crawford, if the Heat sign one or both, are capable of providing good offense in short bursts, but who is going to play better defense? -- Bryan, Mountain View, Calif.