November 21, 2014
Q: I'm tired of everyone pretending it's not over. Dwyane Wade is done. Just retire. It's not that he's old; it's that he's broken. Forget it. -- Johnny.
A: Really? Three weeks into the season, after he misses four games with a sore hamstring? Look, if this is one of those injuries that the Heat keeps minimizing and then Greg Oden doesn't show up until midseason, that's one thing. But he took the same misstep he could have taken at 22, 26 or 30. Players, even young players, miss time with hamstring injuries. It's over when Wade is out so long that all semblance of continuity is lost (although that is getting close). We're talking a week here. And, to be candid, if he can make it back for the weekend's divisional games against the Magic and Hornets, then holding him out against the Clippers is prudent, even with what happened. It might be a new reality for the Heat, but divisional, conference and head-to-head tiebreakers again are part of their big picture. If Wade had been playing poorly when we went down, that would have been one thing. But he had been playing well, with little reason to believe that it can't happen again.
Q: Well, as you had maintained, even in the preseason, this Heat team will go as Wade goes. Without Wade, this team isn't winning any playoff series. Without Wade, this team is not even a playoff team. The Heat need to trade for a shooting guard. -- Martin.
A: Actually, I think it's as Wade AND Chris Bosh go. They need both, with such a drop off in talent thereafter. While Luol Deng and Josh McRoberts are nice players, they basically feed off Bosh and Wade. While Shannon Brown had his moment in meaningless minutes against the Clippers, something a bit better could make these Wade absences more palatable.
Q: Thursday showed it: It's not fair to Chris Bosh to have to play center against DeAndre Jordan. The Heat need a true center. -- Boris.
A: I'm not sure anyone was stopping Jordan on Thursday, considering the average distance of his attempts was about one foot. That's more about defensive rotations than any single defender. And the reality is, especially in the Eastern Conference, there aren't that many beefy centers. The Heat have six players in their power rotation in Bosh, Chris Andersen, Josh McRoberts, Shawne Williams, Udonis Haslem and Justin Hamilton. If that isn't enough, then the better question is why are they here and why wasn't something better culled in the offseason?
November 20, 2014
Q: In a strange way, taking Mario Chalmers out of the starting lineup allows the Heat to better showcase his versatility to the league. He is flourishing as a two-guard, in the class of Louis Williams or Nick Young, only a much, much headier player who can keep the ball moving. Do you think that Chalmers could be moved down the road? I know that the Heat roster is thin at shooting guard, but it's empty at rebounding. -- Juan, Denver.
A: When it comes to guards the Heat might move, I think it would be more likely to be Cole, considering the Heat opted not to extend him at the Oct. 31 deadline. If the Heat re-sign him in the offseason (unless he takes the one-year qualifying offer as a restricted free agent), it would carry his money past the 2016 offseason, when the Heat are trying to mass their cap space for free agency. Chalmers, by contrast, has a contract that ends just before the 2016 offseason. Advantage Mario. Ultimately, moving either could come down to the confidence that Shabazz Napier instills as the point guard of the future (his money goes beyond the 2016 offseason, but at the affordable rookie scale).
Q: I'm very excited about our team, the bench doesn't look too bad, and we can only go up from here. My only problem is Chris Bosh not yet embracing his role as a leader. He shrinks in games like he used to do in the Big Three era. Do you think Bosh will take the mantle and be the complete leader, or will he always defer to and always see this as Dwyane Wade's team? - Howard, Miramar.
A: Oh, Chris very much has emerged as a leader. He was the voice of disgust in the locker room after the loss in Atlanta, and he has been setting a tone with the rookies in practice. And with Wade figuring to miss far more time than Bosh, Chris is going to have to lead. I also disagree about Chris "shrinking" in games. Sometimes you just miss shots. You "shrink" when you stop shooting. Because Chris did not "shrink" in that respect in Brooklyn, he was able to step up with a pair of game-deciding jumpers. In fact, Chris is one of the most passionate players I've been around, including Dwyane and LeBron James.
Q: At 6-5, we are in agreement that this is right in sync with, at least my (non-emotional, objective) opinion, where we should be. As we struggle to get the rotation going with all the injuries, I think we may need to accept that this is not an exception but the rule in the NBA, and without depth to get you through we will be in the middle of the pack. What do you think (or know) the issue is with Shannon Brown? He has experience, athleticism and can defend. I'm not getting it. -- M.J., Miami.
A: To answer your last question first, the reality is the Knicks had no use for Shannon, and they're a mess. Beyond that, if the 15th man is a concern, then you have more concerns than merely being in the .500 range. To your greater point, we can have no idea about the depth until Danny Granger and Josh McRoberts show what they do or don't offer. Moving McRoberts into the starting lineup means moving Shawne Williams' 3-point shooting into the second unit. Getting more out of Granger means far more versatility in the wing rotation. With Granger and McRoberts contributing, and with Williams emerging, and with the possibilities of James Ennis and Shabazz Napier, the depth could be far more reliable at midseason than it is now.
November 19, 2014
Q: Ira, I read your Ask Q&A's every morning first thing as soon as I wake up, so thank you for putting this much effort in every morning. As a passionate Heat fan, it kills me to see all of our bigs either injured or ineffective. With how little Andre Dawkins is playing, is there any chance Khem Birch comes on and fills in right away? -- Manny, Miami.
A: There is a reason that coaches sometimes shy from utilizing players either in the preseason or during garbage time, and the reason is the fallout of performances in moments that just don't matter. It's time to move beyond the Khem Birch-as-savior talk. Yes, he had his moments during the preseason. To repeat: During the preseason. If the Heat were to bolster their power rotation, it's not as if he is the only possibility. But beyond that, the Heat already have Chris Bosh, Chris Andersen, Shawne Williams, Josh McRoberts, Udonis Haslem and Justin Hamilton in their power rotation. That's nearly half the roster right there, and doesn't even include the possibility of spotting Luol Deng or Danny Granger at the four. What Erik Spoelstra first has to see is if that is good enough. And if it's not, I'm not sure that Dawkins necessarily would be the odd man out, considering he played Monday ahead of Shannon Brown.