October 24, 2014
Q: Ira, I watched a lot of summer league, and Tyler Johnson was someone the Heat haven't had. Couldn't they have found a way to make room? -- Tim.
A: I agree that Tyler was intriguing, and the Heat apparently felt that way, considering they guaranteed him $75,000. It would be one thing if you could clearly delineate 15 better players on this roster, or even make cases because of salary guarantees. But it certainly seems like Johnson had more upside than Shannon Brown, who has done and shown little during the preseason. Unlike draft picks that you can stash overseas while retaining their rights, as the Heat did initially with Justin Hamilton, the Heat did not have that opportunity with the undrafted Johnson. Basically, it comes down to whether Shannon Brown proves Pat Riley right. Or whether the Heat will have a veteran collecting a check while Johnson perhaps gets his opportunity elsewhere, from one of the teams impressed with his summer work and showing at the end of the Spurs' game. Still, it's too early to say if this could become Patrick Beverley II.
Q: It seems like 70 1/2 for the number of games played by Wade is a touch high. -- Rohan.
A: I ran that item from the offshore sports book because I found the number intriguing. On one hand, it would be a huge jump after Wade missed 28 games last season. And yet, on the other hand, with this roster, and the lack of a proven backup at shooting guard, I'm not sure the Heat can afford to have Wade out for 12 games, the way their portion of the East is so closely packed. All of that said, I think the Heat would consider it a victory if Wade plays 70.
Q: I don't think the current play of this season's Heat team can truly be evaluated until Josh McRoberts is healthy and contributing. Fortunately, he and the Heat have time to get him going. With luck, Erik Spoelstra can find his starting lineup by the December deadline so if pickups are needed, Pat Riley can work his magic. -- Chet.
A: When evaluating this roster, I'd put McRoberts as the fourth-best player, behind Chris Bosh, Wade and Luol Deng. So any team without their fourth-best player can't maximize its possibilities. My concern is that McRoberts' passing game for a big man is so unique that it could take a while for his teammates to acclimate. Spoelstra, though, told me that he believes players quickly adapt to anyone who will pass them the ball, and that McRoberts has picked up many of the nuances from the sideline, as he continues to recover from offseason toe surgery.
October 23, 2014
Q: Shawne Williams was a great pickup, a classic Pat Riley guy. He has a long wing span. -- Stuart.
A: And range on his shot, which will be essential for this team after losing Ray Allen, Shane Battier and James Jones from last season's roster. In fact, that's likely why Williams played ahead of Udonis Haslem during the preseason, because a stretch four will be a staple in the Heat lineup, be it Josh McRoberts or Williams. Plus, with McRoberts now expected to miss the start of the season, it makes it easier for the Heat to know there will be a degree of 3-point shooting available. But, as with all journeymen who reinvent themselves in the preseason, what follows next is the only thing that matters.
Q: Why not start Mario Chalmers at point guard, and when Dwyane Wade goes out (usually at the five-minute mark) slide Chalmers to shooting guard and bring in Cole? And at the start of the second quarter, you can start with Cole and Wade. -- Yunasi, Miami Beach.
A: Why not, indeed, although Erik Spoelstra has been experimenting with his rotations, including taking Chris Bosh out earlier and then putting him back in at the end of the quarter. It continues to confound that a team would possibly set its starting rotation based on how it wants the second unit to set up. Of course, just as curious is that the Heat could go into a season with Chalmers as the best option at backup shooting guard.
Q: This will be a challenging season and a real barometer on Spoelstra as a coach. For the most part he is coaching a collection of mediocre players where he won't know from game to game, let alone from quarter to quarter, what he is going to get from his players. Inconsistent play is not easy to coach. -- Joel.
A: I disagree. I think many coaches would long to have both Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on their roster. But, to your overall point, I agree that when the supporting cast is so questionable, it will be difficult to establish anything in the way of a consistent rotation. What Spoelstra needs is for players to make strong cases that they belong, so that there won't be nearly as much "inconsistent play" as you forecast.
October 22, 2014
Q: Ira, what has Norris Cole done to move ahead of Mario Chalmers in the Heat rotation? Erik Spoelstra did not start him when he benched Chalmers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals? -- Steve, Miami.