Ira Winderman

Ira Winderman (September 30, 2014)


March 6, 2015

Q: Remind us again how it is possible to re-sign Hassan Whiteside as a restricted free agent this summer. -- Paul.

A: It is not possible, because Whiteside will be a not free agent, with one more partially guaranteed season left on his contract. He then will become an unrestricted free agent in the 2016 offseason, with the Heat holding no advantage over any other team, other than the right to offer him an Early Bird contract of the NBA's average salary, which clearly will not cut it, based on his current play. Clearly, if the Heat knew in the fall what they know now, they would have structured the contract (had Whiteside consented) differently. The Heat's advantage is building equity with Whiteside and his agent, showing that this is where he has been nurtured and that his best prospects going forward are to remain alongside Goran Dragic (if he is re-signed this summer), Chris Bosh, Josh McRoberts (who does set up as an intriguing complement alongside Whiteside) and possibly Luol Deng and Dwyane Wade. In the end, though, Whiteside could chase the money or the destination of his choice, in what should be a wild 2016 free-agency free-for-all.

Q: Can Michael Beasley play better defense now? -- Carlos, Waimanalo, Hawaii

A: Better than he previously did? He had better. Good enough to inspire confidence as a rotation player, that remains to be seen, with Wednesday against the Lakers an uneven effort. With Michael, it seems to be as much about focus and concentration as actual technique. And let's face it, he's been schooled enough in the Heat system long enough to at least know how to play the team's style. Whether he's up to the demands? That will require game-by-game inspection. Vs. Suns? Very good. Vs. Lakers? Not so good. It is all part of the inconsistency that is the Beasley package.

Q: About time Erik Spoelstra went to Tyler Johnson rather than Shabazz Napier. I don't think there is anything Napier does better than Johnson on a court. Your thoughts? -- Brian, Boca Raton.

A: Napier is better at getting a team into offense, but with Dwyane Wade again healthy, with Goran Dragic in place and with Mario Chalmers still an option, there isn't quite the same need in that regard from Napier as there was earlier in the season. But Napier lack of shooting consistency has really set him back. I'm not sure Napier needs to go back to summer league, which could prove disheartening once again, but hiring a shooting coach should be an offseason priority for Napier.

March 5, 2015

Q: Dwayne Wade going to Hassan Whiteside at the end was key.  It will open up shots for other Heat players at the end of a game. -- Stuart.

A: Exactly. Which is why you would have liked to have seen Wade make more an attempt for a similar play in the waning seconds of Friday's loss in New Orleans. But that type of two-man game doesn't always thrive against a team that packs the paint, like the Hawks, which means you need perimeter threats, as well. That's why Goran Dragic's three was so heartening. But when Wade moves the ball in those situations, good things can happen. He is no less of a hero for merely tossing those passes. In fact, he did the majority of work on both of those late Whiteside scores. Now, getting Whiteside up to speed at the foul line is the next challenge. But with all he has done, that's getting a bit picky.

Q: Hey Ira, considering everything that this team has faced (LeBron James leaving, Josh McRoberts going down, Wade missing 15-plus games, Chris Bosh out for season) and how the front office has been able to retool the team on the fly with D-League call-ups, an overseas signing and a trade that the consensus agrees they won, if we make the playoffs, should Pat Riley get consideration for Executive of the Year? -- Robert.

A: I think Pat should get credit as Comeback Executive of the Year. Many in this league would just have mailed it in when the going got tough. The Heat, however, kept mixing and matching, even if it further reduced Erik Spoelstra's continuity. Riley didn't quit on the season. Because of that, playoff hope remains.

Q: Waiver day has passed. Will the Heat make a move and use some of their medical exception money or do we play the cards we have and hope they can learn how to win? -- Chet.

A: The deadline is March 10 to spend the $2.65 million the received for McRoberts' knee surgery. They are allowed to spend all or part of it, and it does not have to be prorated. But whatever is offered can only be for the balance of the season, with the signed player therefore having no Bird Rights or early-Bird Rights with the Heat going forward. Based on how this season has gone for the Heat, it's almost as if they're better off waiting, just to see who is ambulatory. But, as has been mentioned in this space in recent days, I don't think you spend into the tax when you're talking about fighting for the No. 7 or No. 8 seed.

March 4, 2015

Q: 1. I think it would be a mistake for the Heat to use the $2.65 million disabled-player exception. I'd rather buy another year of staying away from the repeater tax. 2. After watching Shawne Williams and Danny Granger, I'm starting to come around on Michael Beasley. His instant offense and energy begs that he be in the rotation, even if Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts were available. 3. Next season in training camp, if Erik Spoelstra would just show an open mind, Tyler Johnson looks like he has the upside to replace Mario Chalmers as first guard off the bench. -- Richard, West Palm Beach.

A: A lot to digest here. I agree about staying away from the tax, not because of the money it would save, but because of the benefits of staying out of the tax when it comes to various personnel machinations and exceptions. You pay the tax to contend for championships, not to contend for No. 7 and No. 8 seeds. As for Beasley, it came down to Pat Riley seeing more promise in Granger coming back from injury than Beasley finding his way. I don't fault him for that. But I agree that there were more than a few games this season that with the opposition on an extended streak, Beasley's offense could have been as useful as it was Monday against the Suns. As for Johnson, he's an intriguing prospect. But let's not sell Chalmers short. He has had his moments in this third-guard role with Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic. But if the Heat continue with a three-guard approach going forward, then there also should be ample time for Johnson.

Q: What say you on Hassan Whiteside's penalty? -- Sims.