December 19, 2014
Q: Dwyane Wade is scoring but over-dribbling. He is not young enough to beat a lot of guys off the dribble. The ball is therefore is not moving. We can and must do better. -- Leon, Miami.
A: You raise a good point about what transpired Wednesday night and why the rest of the Heat offense grew stagnant. The reality is that Wade is the Heat's best facilitator and might be the team's best point guard. But he also is not quick enough to play at point guard defensively. The best of all worlds would be to twin Wade with a defensive-minded three-and-D type of point guard. What happened Wednesday was four others standing around while Wade did his work in the post. The problem is that a player like Luol Deng needs to be able to complement by moving without the ball and receiving it as he makes his cuts. That didn't happen Wednesday, and Deng therefore became marginalized on a six-shot night. That's not Deng's fault; that's how he plays, reliant on others to facilitate his game. It's similar to what Chris Bosh spoke about earlier in the season, about how the Heat need the ball to move. Ten total assists never cut it. The Heat have to find a way to get the ball moving while, of course, also keeping Wade involved.
Q: When healthy, Is Emeka Okafor a viable and realistic option for the Heat? What are the chances Pat Riley makes an offer that Emeka can undoubtedly accept? -- Patrick, Fort Lauderdale.
A: It certainly is a good name, if healthy, and the $2.65 million injured-player exception for Josh McRoberts just might be able to get that done. But the Heat have taken on injury concerns in each of the last two seasons and been left with Greg Oden and now McRoberts being unable to contribute. It doesn't matter how many rebounds or blocks a big man is capable of recording if he is not ambulatory. The Heat need a big who is better than what currently is available, but also who can get and stay on the court. Even Wednesday, Chris Andersen grew winded and had to ask out just 4 1/2 minutes into the second half.
Q: I watched the Jazz game four times, freeze-framed every made Utah three. All but two started with a pass out of a double-team or triple-team on the ball. The Heat need to play straight defense. Let them earn their points. When your opponent shoots better from the 3-point line than the twos, that's a problem. It's the defensive system. Erik Spoelstra is very stubborn. He watches the film, sees the stats. What is he waiting for? It's early in the season. The Heat haven't had a healthy team all year. They will compete if healthy and the coach adjusts his style. -- Morris, New York.
A: Which is why I asked that very question after the Utah game, with Spoelstra contending most of the Jazz's early threes were contested. What I saw were so many Heat defenders packing the paint and dropping closer to the baseline that the passes to open shooters were there on numerous possessions. But, again, you can't tell poor individual defenders to simply do it better. Sometimes they simply aren't good enough. That is the Heat's current dilemma. The perimeter defense has been very poor, individually as much as collectively.
December 18, 2014
Q: I'm seeing a lot of Greg Monroe-to-the-Heat rumors. Thoughts? -- Brian.
A: Look, everyone knows Pat Riley covets true centers, has gone years without one. It is why there were those DeMarcus Cousins rumors in recent years and then the Brook Lopez rumors earlier this month, when word came of a potential fire sale from the Nets. But the reality remains that the Heat have precious few commodities to offer in any trade, particularly little in the way of promising young players or quality draft picks. If the Pistons have to settle for such middling assets in return, then you can almost bet it would come at the cost of them also selling off Brandon Jennings or some of their other distressed property. So would you trade Chris Bosh for Monroe and Josh Smith (and essentially become the Pistons)? Of course not. But what the Heat showed in starting Justin Hamilton and Chris Andersen on Wednesday night is that they have little in the middle. If they do get an injured-player exception for Josh McRoberts, they have to think about Andray Blatche when he is eligible to return from China, hopefully in better shape than he was in the offseason. Similarly, for those asking about trading for Rajon Rondo, again it is a case of limited assets. The Heat bankrupted a lot for the LeBron James era.
Q: Chris Andersen has been grounded since Day 1 of the season. I'm sure he's still coveted by some contenders out there, though. Do you anticipate Riley making him available? -- Kevin.
A: Two things: First, Birdman, because of the type of contract he signed, cannot be dealt until Jan. 15. at the earliest. Second, at mid-level money I'm not sure what the market is for a 36-year-old who has an additional year on his contract. Beyond all that, if Andersen is not there to block shots for the Heat, then who? As it was, Andersen took his start at power forward a bit too literally on Wednesday night, his outside shots not exactly what the Heat were looking for or needed. But he did rebound, which was a positive. The question there is whether there is enough ability to still defend straight up in the post.
Q: What are the chances Chris Bosh plays on Christmas? -- Singh.
A: I can't imagine many more days circled an emphatically on the Heat calendar than LeBron James' return. If there is any way for Bosh to be out there, I'm sure he will be there. If he's not, based on how the Heat looked Wednesday against the Jazz, the league just might have to cancel the Heat's Christmas. The Heat need Bosh back sooner rather than later.
December 17, 2014
Q: This season for Dwyane Wade is shaping up as a nice story, considering he made room for LeBron James the last four years. -- Stuart.