October 3, 2015
Q: I think that James Ennis should be guaranteed the Heat's 15th roster spot. His athleticism is great and he can be a good third-string small forward. I don't see anyone on the Heat's training-camp roster with more upside than him. He also defended LeBron James well during the last meeting between the Cavaliers and Heat. Who do you think deserves the last spot on this roster? -- Michael, New York.
A: As I've written before, I'm still not sold on James as the right fit for this roster at this time. If the Heat decided to undergo a complete rebuild in the wake of LeBron James' departure, then James would fit the type of mold sought. But this is a team looking to win at a high level, as opposed to all-out development mode. First, unless James modifies his full guarantee for opening night, I think is chances would be significantly reduced. Beyond that, because of the Heat's position against the tax, I'm not sure they even will keep a 15th player. What I would do is keep that spot open, see who is cut from other teams, and then try to add a three-and-D veteran should one shake free, If you're asking about the odds of James making the final cut under the current terms of his contract, I'd put it at less than 50-50, as much because of the finances as his ability. It's a cold reality of the Heat's current state.
Q: On paper, the Heat look as if they could possibly win the East, with all these injury woes from other teams. If we can stay healthy, that might be the difference in taking the conference. What do you think? -- Toby, Cooper City.
A: On paper, any team with LeBron James looks best to win the East. So that's still the Cavaliers. And while several teams in the mix in the East are dealing with early injuries, such as the Bulls with Mike Dunleavy and Derrick Rose, the Heat, because of the age of their roster, run that risk, as well. Health can't be forecast. Injuries just happen. Depth, however, can mitigate the impact of injuries. The concern with the Heat is that much of the depth is older, as well, with plenty of NBA mileage.
Q: From the reports, Hassan Whiteside's calf injury isn't that serious. But I'm wondering, could Hassan's calf injury be due to the Heat having him work on his game all summer long? I don't think he had that much time to wind down a lot.
A: One of the best parts of the offseason was Hassan being a self-starter in the gym. No one pushed Hassan more than Hassan. But part of such efforts has to be prudence, perhaps not pushing as hard on the eve of camp. For a player who will eventually command huge money for extended years, the next step for Hassan is to show he can manage injuries, minimize their impact, and, even more importantly, avoid them whenever possible.
October 2, 2015
Q: If the Heat go with 14 players, it's to keep a spot open for Michael Beasley when he returns as China MVP, right? -- Eddie.
Q: It's always nice to have Beasley as an "in case of emergency break glass" option. Although this season, we hope not to have to use it. -- Dave.
Q: So knowing what we know now, would you prefer Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley? High expectations with low results. -- Daniel.
A: I group these together figuring with Michael signing to play in China that we won't have to address the subject again. I highly, highly doubt, with the Heat's current position against the luxury tax, that Michael will be hearing from the Heat this season. And I'm still not sure that the Heat won't consider going with 14 players as a means of reducing or help eliminating the luxury tax. I do agree that I'm somewhat surprised that there isn't a place for Michael in the league with his scoring abilities. But it's the classic case of weighing the baggage. But the Rose comparisons are ludicrous. Derrick Rose, when healthy, is a very, very good, star-ability player. And there is no reason not to assume a degree of health going forward. And it wasn't just Rose in that 2008 draft that Beasley is weighed against.
Q: If Hassan Whiteside takes the Early Bird contract, how soon after that could the Heat extend him? Could there be a hush-hush deal already worked out? -- Tim.
A: First a clarification from yesterday's post: The Heat did not have the means to sign Whiteside to a three-year deal last season to automatically get him directly to Bird Rights free agency; they lacked the exception or cap space needed for anything beyond a two-year deal when he was added. If Whiteside took an Early Bird deal this coming offseason (which he won't, with that 2016-17 salary number likely to come in under $8 million), he would be positioned a year later for a major deal. I do think there will be a request to at least have him consider waiting one more year to cash out, but I doubt any player would risk leaving so much additional money on the table.
Q: No news on James Ennis? -- Timmy.
A: Well, he is in camp, but I believe it is unlikely he will make the opening-night roster unless he agrees to yet again modify his contract, this time to remove the opening-night guarantee date for his full 2015-16 salary. Based on the composition of the current roster, even if he makes the regular-season roster, he likely would be a player likely to be inactive on many game nights.
October 1, 2015
Q: Won't the Heat try to lock up Hassan Whiteside at some point this season? Or will cap trigonometry prevent that? -- Avery.