September 30, 2014
Q: Do you think that the Heat have enough depth going into the season to beat big-name teams like the Cavaliers or the Bulls in the postseason? -- Joseph, Plantation.
A: This is where the Heat and I disagree, and, to a degree, I hope that I'm wrong, that enough of the players added to the mix pan out and that a Shawne Williams or Reggie Williams or Shannon Brown offer unexpected surprise. The Heat's way of thinking is that Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger have been added, and that those moves are part of bolstering the depth. My thought is that it will take at least two of those players, if even possible, to offset most of what was lost with the loss of LeBron James. Deng is rock solid, but I don't consider him part of the "depth." And considering McRoberts likely will start, I don't consider him part of the depth, either. Look, I'm not overstating what was lost. Michael Beasley and Greg Oden did not contribute when it mattered. Nor for that matter did James Jones, Rashard Lewis or Toney Douglas get much of a chance. Shane Battier dropped off to the point where he recognized that retirement was the proper reality. And even Ray Allen dropped off enough to consider stepping away from the game, as well. But Dwyane Wade is a year older, and Chris Andersen turned 36 in July. So an argument could be made that even more depth is needed than last season. Again, whether it's the minimum-scale journeymen I mentioned or perhaps some of the kids -- like James Ennis, Justin Hamilton or Shabazz Napier -- there certainly is the possibility of an infusion of quality depth. That is what the next month, and beyond, is about.
Q: What are the concerns with Granger and McRoberts recuperating from surgery this offseason? Will this affect the chemistry and most importantly will they be ready to go when the preseason begins? -- Adrian, Las Vegas.
A: Any time a player comes off surgery, no matter how supposedly minor, it always is a concern. And this just makes it harder to weave players into a new system, to develop needed chemistry in advance of the season. The Heat tend to be cautious with such matters, so I'd expect the regular season to be more of a goal than the preseason. The Heat need McRoberts (toe surgery) and Granger (a knee scope) to be productive. And with the Heat's place in the East so tenuous, every regular-season game figures to matter.
Q: Do you think the Heat will keep three point guards all season? I don't see the organization keeping Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole and Shabazz Napier, especially if Napier transitions to the game well. -- Dale, Sunrise.
A: First, you're talking to someone who for years has championed -- mostly unsuccessfully -- the Heat carrying three point guards. I think it only makes sense, now more than ever, without LeBron James' ballhandling to compensate. It also could come down to how much the Heat utilize Chalmers at shooting guard. But I think that is overstated, since Erik Spoelstra previously often had played Chalmers and Cole in tandem. And if Napier develops, it finally would give the Heat additional trade chips that can be put into play. I think it's important that all three prove capable of contributing to this reshuffled Heat mix.
September 29, 2014
Q: Hi, Ira. From your card, who among the 20 will make the final 15 before the season starts? It seems like everyone taken to camp are good scorers. -- Romeo.
A: To me, the roster locks going in is the probable starting lineup of Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Chris Bosh, and among the reserves you can write in pen the names of Chris Andersen, Danny Granger, Norris Cole, Udonis Haslem, Shabazz Napier and James Ennis. So that's 11 out of the maximum 15 right there. Then I'd go the other way, with players essentially being set up for cuts and seasoning with the Heat's NBA Development League, the Sioux Falls Skyforce, with that group likely to include Tyler Johnson, Khem Birch, Andre Dawkins and Shawn Jones. So that leaves five remaining players for four spots, with the math possibly being as simple as cutting Chris Johnson and keeping Shawne Williams, Reggie Williams, Justin Hamilton and Shannon Brown. All of that said, the younger prospects still have a chance to make a camp statement, and based on what sets up as the end of the roster, I think it is highly possibly the Heat eventually consider players cut by other teams or those still lingering on the free-agent list. What you are seeing in this training camp might not be what you get.
Q: The Heat should get a rebounder and defensive big man like Reggie Evans or Kenneth Faried if they want to continue Bosh's outside offense. -- Jed.
A: First, the Heat don't have anything close to what it would take to land Faried. Beyond that, the league largely has moved beyond physical fours who have little offensive ability and don't have to be defended. If there is the need for a bodyguard in the power rotation, it is likely that Birdman or Haslem would get that call.
Q: Do the Heat appear more relaxed with all the media in Cleveland instead? -- Mark.
A: For most, it's just another training camp, just one without a mass media scrum surrounding the game's premier player after each practice. But Wade and Bosh do seem more at ease with the relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. Of course the flip side is if the losses start piling up, then there can't be the excuse of, "Don't worry, we still have LeBron."
September 28, 2014
Q: One of the recent articles in the Sun Sentinel on Chris Bosh's new role as the focal point of the Heat's offense talked about Chris bringing back his post-up game from his days in Toronto. In fact, Chris was quoted as saying in the article, everyone on the Heat knew LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were our post-up players the last four years. What I don't understand is why during the prior four years (The Big Three era) Chris Bosh's post-up play couldn't be incorporated into the Heat's offense? Wouldn't that have given the Heat more options on offense? Maybe the Heat go 72-10 four years in a row and win four championships (exaggerating). If the Heat are paying Bosh $118 million and his post-up play is good enough to be the focal point now, surely it was good enough to use the last four years? Not sure why the Heat couldn't incorporate more of Bosh post play. The fans basically screamed for it. And in the first year of the Big Three, Bosh playing a mid-range game was super effective against Bulls and Celtics in the playoffs. -- Stuart.