Aug. 3, 2015
Q: Why is everyone trying to trade Chris Bosh? Ever since he's been here people have wanted to get rid of him. Yet he is one of the most consistent shooters in the league, a top defender, decent rebounder, great playmaker and a two-time world champion. He has improved his game every year he has been a Heat. And in my opinion, if he was a free agent this year, he would've been the top free agent available, above LaMarcus Aldridge, above DeAndre Jordan. Every team would've tried to make room for him. -- Yunasi, Miami Beach.
A: "Everyone"? Not sure I've heard that. But if you're asking about increased expectations with Chris, health permitting, heck yeah. Whether you consider the contract a burden or not, Chris again will be the Heat's highest-paid player. He can't just be good. He can't merely be only a contributor. This has to become his team. Dwyane Wade was willing to defer early last season, and Goran Dragic has visions of greatness when it comes to the pick-and-roll with Bosh. Plus, Chris now has a defensive backstop and rebounder alongside in Hassan Whiteside. What I will say is that the rebound totals might not be up to expectation, but that could be a factor of Whiteside's full-season presence alongside. But Chris has to be what his contract says he should be. Health permitting. Period.
Q: Ira, Pat Riley has always adapted with the times. From the fast-paced Lakers, to a big-man lead Knicks team to a smallish, defensive-minded Heat team. Do you think he continues this trend and starts Justise Winslow over Luol Deng? -- Raul, Naples.
A: No. Nor is there a need. But what both he and Erik Spoelstra need to do is see whether they can fast-track Winslow, with Deng to be a free agent next summer. But the last thing you want to do with a rookie is force-feed him those defensive matchups against LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Jimmy Butler. Let the kid learn from Deng, and spot him in some of those situations. Winslow is only 19, and this is a man's league. Deng is a man, and still a significant part of the Heat's equation. Plus, Deng's game works better as a starter, since he's not exactly instant offense off the bench.
Q: If the Heat really think they can win the East, are they being short-sighted by not using mid-level exception to sign a decent player? -- Jeffrey.
A: Remember, it's not as if the mid-level expires at the end of the offseason. It could be used at any time during the season (for a free agent, not in a trade). In fact, it is a significant mechanism when it comes to the buyout market in March, when it could sway a player otherwise limited to the minimum elsewhere. Based on the Heat's current tax situation, I would not expect it to be in play at the moment. And based on the Heat's tax situation, the full mid-level can't be put into play. So you keep it in your back pocket and see whether the investment would produce a tangible upgrade down the road.
Aug. 2, 2015
Q: Ira, I think the Heat drafted Justise Winslow because they felt he would become a star NBA player, ready to replace either Luol Deng (next year) or Dwyane Wade in two or three years. You don't draft a player with the 10th pick, especially one projected to be in the top 5-6-7, without believing that you've just landed a young stud and potential star. The thought of Heat management has to be that Winslow will turn into one of the leaders and faces of this franchise in the years to come. The Heat lack high picks over the next five years, so a pick this high has to come up big. I don't think anybody would be satisfied with a Shane Battier-level player. Not with the 10th pick. -- Matt.
A: I think Winslow is a lot like when Caron Butler fell to them at No. 10 in 2002, that only now are the Heat fully taking stock of what is there, Erik Spoelstra delving into his laboratory of possibilities as we speak. And the reality is that Butler was dealt two years later. It all comes down to what the Heat believe they can cultivate. You don't project a player becoming a Wade or even a Deng; they prove it to you. With this roster, Winslow should get ample opportunity in coming seasons. A "steal" of the draft becomes a steal only when he reaches the level of expectation when people call him a "steal" in the first place. For his part, by enduring so long. Caron Butler has done that. As for your overall assessment, Winslow becoming the next Shane Battier would be just fine, too.
Q: It would be nice to use the first half of the season as sort of a veteran training camp while "stashing" James Ennis. -- Darren, Coconut Grove.
A: There is no "stashing" of a player if you cut him before the end of training camp (or any other time, for that matter). Ennis might have shown enough that if he is cut by the Heat at any point, he might be able to find a contract elsewhere. It is among the reasons I believe the Heat have an obligation to carry the regular-season maximum of 15 players, to maximize the possibilities of their overall roster.
Q: Is Carlos Boozer still out there for the Heat? He could be a bench scorer or a backup big man. -- Webb.
A: You mean like the Lakers thought he would be last season? There generally is a reason a player lasts deep into free agency. I'm just not sure what Boozer has left. Now, if you're talking the minimum, then I could see possible Heat interest if the power rotation (Chris Andersen, Josh McRoberts) is thinned out in the name of luxury-tax savings. The given in the equation is Boozer's longstanding desire to spend his winters in South Florida.
Aug. 1, 2015
Q: My question is at point guard. Can Dwyane Wade play backup point? I understand Erik Spoelstra likes players that can play multiple positions, but I don't see Goran Dragic enjoying playing shooting guard. -- Bryan, Fort Lauderdale.
A: Goran only has to play point guard. It's what the Heat do in the minutes, or even games, when he is off the court. And I do think that Dwyane will get plenty of time as a ballhandler when Goran is off the court. That is one way of opening minutes for Gerald Green (who is a shaky ballhandler) and also could open minutes at shooting guard to experiment there with Justise Winslow. In fact, I could see the Heat utilizing a pattern where when Goran goes out that Dwyane moves to ballhandler. That would further reduce the need to go with untested Tyler Johnson or unproven Josh Richardson in such a ballhandling role.
Q: If we are in win-now mode, let's go all in. I'm hearing that the Knicks would trade Carmelo Anthony, so why not try this" Luol Deng, Justise Winslow, Mario Chalmers, Birdman. I think the money works. I hate to give up Winslow, but if it meant a starting lineup of Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade, Melo, Chris Bosh, Hassan Whiteside plus Amare Stoudemire, Gerald Green, Josh McRoberts, etc., on the bench I feel that team is the equal or better than Cleveland. What do you think? -- Bernard, Cheektowaga, N.Y.