July 31, 2014

Q: Ira, the thing I've always admired about Pat Riley is how is has been so forward-thinking. So why rehash everything that went on with LeBron James? What does that accomplish? -- Ernesto.

A: I think like everything else, it's difficult to move on without closure. To be honest, during the teleconference I was peppering more with questions about Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts and even Mario Chalmers. I'm intrigued about what could come next. I also think more than a few players on this team could use some time outside of the spotlight. I'm not sure in this social-media world that Riley's vision of "generational" teams ever can return. For example, look even now at the build-up leading to Kevin Durant's 2016 free agency, let alone the talk about playing back home with the Wizards. Players used to be able to live in the moment. Those days are gone. And, yes, LeBron could be a free agent all over again next summer. As for Riley's forward-thinking views, he also is among the first to reflect back on his previous players and teams. It's better to reflect back now than when there are actual games being played.

Q: So Mario Chalmers is a shooting guard now? Just shoot me. -- Steve.

A: Actually, with the way this roster is comprised, with just Dwyane Wade at shooting guard, and with Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier at point guard, it makes some sense to envision time for Chalmers at the two. Plus, Riley sounds like he is viewing Danny Granger more as a three-four than a two-three. It could come down to whether James Ennis is ready, and Riley did not sound sold on that aspect.

Q: I hear rumors of Chalmers or possible Norris Cole getting traded. Is there a possibility of a large trade happening within the Heat still? -- Mariah, Miami Springs.

A: Chalmers, or any free agent signed this offseason, cannot be dealt until Dec. 15, per the collective-bargaining agreement. But I do think it's possible Cole could be put into play to better balance the roster. Of course, at $2 million, Cole also is somewhat of a value player.



 July 30, 2014

Q: How likely is it that Kevin Durant would leave the Thunder to join the Miami Heat? -- Andy, Hialeah.

A: This is what I hate about today's NBA, that it's always about waiting for the next big thing, clearing out salary-cap space, or at least having the flexibility to open it, for the next big potential free agent. For as difficult as it was for the Heat to lose LeBron James, think of teams like the Mavericks, Suns and even Lakers who interviewed with LeBron's agent but never had any legitimate chance of signing him. There are way too many variables with Durant over the next two seasons to know what direction he might take. And, frankly, I don't think fans should wish away two years of their lives on the longshot hope of a superstar arriving. Enjoy the next two seasons. That's what quality franchises should aspire to, the way the Mavericks have kept themselves in the playoff race for years, the way Micky Arison has vowed to do the same with the Heat.

Q: Ira, this writer, 84, has been a keen observer of the NBA, ABA, Harlem Globetrotters, NCAA, etc., for the past 68 years. I have seen every great Hall of Fame member since I graduated Boys High in 1949. At 16, I lived in the same apartment house with Lionel Malamed of NIT and NCAA fame when he was at CCNY. I moved to Florida 22 years ago, and after some time I started rooting for the Heat. My question is: Is Michael Beasley still on the Heat for next season? Thank you. -- Berny, Palm Beach Gardens.

A: After all that build up, how can I not answer? That, of course, does not mean there are any easy answers. My sense is that Michael will be a fallback option, if that, that the Heat want to move on, create a new atmosphere in the locker room. It doesn't mean it has anything to do with what Michael did on or off the court, rather that with the departure of LeBron, there is a desire for a sense of a new vitality. I still believe the Heat should give Michael another season if he is comfortable with a minimum salary and no guarantee of playing time.

Q: LeBron's number should be retired. There won't be another Heat player in the next twenty years who is a two-time regular season MVP as well as Finals MVP. -- Winston, Auckland, New Zealand.

A: Actually, I think LeBron switching back to No. 23 with the Cavaliers will make it easier for the Heat. When No. 6 is raised to the rafters at AmericanAirlines Arena, it would be for what happened with the Heat, and only the Heat. Besides, No. 23 already has been retired by the Heat.



 July 29, 2014

Q: Ira, kudos to Micky Arison with the classy way he addressed fans with his open letter. But I still don't understand how he could be so appreciative of "Heat Nation" and not understand how much Mike Miller meant to his team. That was a mistake, wasn't it? -- Ken.