May 23, 2015
Q: I can't help it. I feel the need for trading. Fresh from the lottery I read someone comment that the Knicks will be looking to trade their No. 4 pick in the draft. Does the following make sense, if this is true: Miami sends Hassan Whiteside to New York in exchange for the pick. Miami drafts Justice Winslow with the fourth and Myles Turner with the 10th (or if they get lucky Willie Cauley-Stein). There would be substantial savings in 2016-2017 if Whiteside's potential salary is passed on to the Knicks. Turner could possibly be in the same league as Whiteside. A sharpshooter small forward/shooting guard would be added and a long shot would be drafted with the 40th pick. All that Pat Riley has to do is follow the script and we'll be all right next year. Of course it would help if Phil Jackson acquiesces to the deal, Myles Turner lives up to expectations. Winslow develops into a good defender and injuries are a thing of the past. I'll leave it up to Pat to decide who gets cut in camp. What say you? Thanks for your comments. -- Joaquin Gomez.
A: I love the "all that has to happen" part. The thing about Whiteside is you know he is something special, which remains an unknown with draft picks. And considering the Knicks are hoarding cap space for 2016, New York would be faced with the same question with Whiteside, whether they want to commit their remaining 2016 cap resources to him. I can't see trading Whiteside solely for a wing. I might see trading him for one of the elite centers in the draft, but that means getting the 'Wolves or the Lakers on the phone. But, honestly, there's been too much of the trade-Whiteside talk. Yes, free-agency could get dicey without Bird Rights, but if Heat Family as powerful as the team believes, then Whiteside staying should be the goal for both parties, just as it will be with finding a way to make it work this summer with Goran Dragic.
Q: Three-point shooting is a priority. The league has changed. Look at the Grizzlies and how they missed it. Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside will never be as dominant down low as Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. We have an aging Dwyane Wade who for some reason does not want to develop a three (too late obviously) and a lineup of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. At a quick glance it sure it looks like a promising starting five. But look closely, what I see is zero spacing. Absolutely clogged. Our priority should be 3-point offense in the draft. -- Henry, New Jersey.
A: First, it has to be about more than the draft, because you don't want to go into that process with such a limited focus, just targeting a single skill set. It could be someone like Mike Dunleavy in free agency or other veteran 3-point spacers who could come at the right price. Or it could come from inverting the offense, to have Bosh and Josh McRoberts draw out opposing big men to open the lane for Dragic or Wade to penetrate (particularly when Whiteside is out). Or it could be the Heat's 3-point shooters shooting better. In the starting lineup you mentioned, Bosh, Dragic and Deng all have 3-point ability. But that's not primarily how you want to play any of them, which would take Bosh from the post, keep Dragic from penetrating or Deng from cutting. Spacing is mostly about getting the opposing defense to respect your shooting, which is where someone like Devin Booker might help in the draft. But, as I've previously said, having Bosh and McRoberts back, and having Dragic for a full season, could alleviate some of the primary concerns.
Q: Does Wade missing out on All-NBA fuel him for next season? -- Matt.
A: I believe Dwyane is past the individual accolades. The league moves on. No Kobe or Wade this season and even returns to health might not push Wade or Bryant back to one of the three All-NBA units. There simply is too much talent at point guard in the NBA right now, let alone at the guard spots combined to move into one of those six positions. Wade's next individual accolade might be the Hall of Fame.
May 22, 2015
Q: Assuming the Cavaliers win the Eastern Conference, the road back to the NBA Finals will run through Cleveland. Pat Riley painfully remembers the time it went through Michael Jordan and Chicago. That being said, and with Dwyane Wade a year older, I don't see Riley having much patience for the Hassan Whitesides of the world. I wouldn't be surprised if the Heat have one more major move to get a proven superstar veteran through the door. The Heat have to be working on something big. What say you? -- Stuart.
A: I say that, in their view, Goran Dragic was such a move this past season, only now about to get his first opportunity to play alongside Chris Bosh. And I wouldn't categorize Whiteside as some type of neophyte. He had two previous seasons with the Kings to at least learn about the NBA lifestyle and expectations, and now will have had 10 months with the Heat before his first training camp. I agree that the Cavaliers have become the target team in the East, and it could be another roadblock for Riley, just as the Knicks were for him at the start of his Heat coaching tenure. But I think we first must give the lineup of Whiteside, Chris Bosh, Luol Deng, Wade and Dragic a look. Only then will Riley know if he needs to pursue something "big," or if it becomes a matter of supplementing what he has, perhaps with his draft pick, perhaps in free-agency.
Q: Assuming Stanley Johnson gets taken No. 8 or No. 9, my choices would be Devin Booker or Kelly Oubre. If you were Pat Riley, who would you pick Ira? -- Dallas, Staten Island.
A: The more I study about Oubre, the greater the concerns I have of getting someone too raw to make an immediate contribution. On the other hand, the more I hear about Mario Hezonja, the more I wonder if Riley finally might break down that overseas barrier (if there is any chance Hezonja slips). But I do agree that this has been a league that is all about shooting, and that Booker is NBA-ready in that regard. To someone it might be considered a stretch at No. 10, but shooters are at a premium. And I'm also coming around a bit on Frank Kaminski, also because of the shooting. In other words, I think there will be a prospect available at No. 10 for the Heat with an NBA-ready skill.
Q: Any chance the Heat try to acquire an extra first-round pick to have more cheap labor and prepare for 2016 free agency? Maybe Whiteside for a pick? -- Jesse.
A: To receive, you must have something to give. And keep in mind the Heat essentially are locked out of trading a future first-round pick until 2023, based on the three they still must pay out and the rule prohibiting the trading of consecutive future first-round picks. I think a draft-day trade could come down to whether the Heat can find a promising big man, which could have Josh McRoberts possibly on the block. I don't see Whiteside being dealt for anything outside of one of the first two picks. But it's early. The draft is not until June 25.
May 21, 2015
Q: The first nine picks will most likely draft according to their needs. Luckily all nine teams picking before us don't need a talented defensive wing player (SG/SF) who can spread the floor, so we could end up with a better player than projected. Pat Riley could stay true to character and either trade the pick for a "proven" guy or simply bypass the best available talent at No. 10 for a four-year college kid, because those are the ones he deems "most ready to contribute." We failed to "reinvent" last year and brought in nothing but "proven" guys who no longer can play at the level which their reputation has earned. But the talent a Top 10 pick brings would force our hand to do so. Is this the summer we do something different as far recruiting, drafting, trading, free-agent signing and building a roster goes? What do you think? What would you like to see be done? -- Ben.
A: There's a lot to chew on there. First, there are several teams picking ahead of the Heat who are looking for wings, so some of the options will be thinned out by the time the Heat select at No. 10, if they remain at that spot. I don't think Riley will necessarily look for an older, more-mature player, basically because there really aren't many in that range other than Frank Kaminsky. I do think they will draft for need, because everything they do now is for the moment, as the clock ticks on Dwyane Wade. As far as trade options, I do think the No. 10 can be packaged with a player/players on the roster to move up. But the Heat's lack of future picks limits the creativity there, and I'm not sure Riley would want to yield multiple assets. I doubt the Heat would trade down, because there likely won't be much to be gained with such a move. As far as the Heat doing something "different," that would go against the Heat culture. Their approach is to attempt to do things one way and do it well. And that approach is living in the moment, which they thought they were doing last summer with Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger.
Q: I just don't see a scenario where the Heat move up or down in the first round. They don't have the assets to move up, unless Hassan Whiteside is put into play. And while they could trade down in the first round, considering the Heat's track record with late first-round picks and the fact that first-round picks come with a guaranteed salary, I don't think it makes a lot of sense. My money is on Pat Riley keeping the pick and drafting a rotation player (like the Caron Butler pick) or trading the pick along with some salary (Mario Chalmers or Chris Andersen) in exchange for a rotation player -- David.