July 11, 2014
A: That the NBA signing period moves in strange and mysterious ways. While the Heat agreed to salary framework with both McRoberts and Granger, they did not finalize the mechanisms with which they would be signed, since, amid the LeBron James delay, Pat Riley did not know if he would be working with cap space or salary-cap exceptions. Essentially, McRoberts and Granger will get their money as promised from the Heat, it's just a matter of how those salaries will be slotted into the Heat's salary cap. Riley took the extraordinary step of announcing the agreements before the actual signings, as if to assure the players, "Don't worry, this is getting done." Amid all the uncertainty, what is certain is that Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger will be in Heat uniforms come the start of training camp.
Q: How many players from this summer-league squad can we realistically expect to see on the Heat next year? Shabazz Napier is a lock, but what are the real chances for James Ennis or a return for Justin Hamilton? -- Andrew, Miami.
A: It's way too early for that, and, to a degree, I think some of these kids will get lost in the shuffle, with Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley having far greater concerns at the moment. Ennis is intriguing, and the Heat way of business has been that if you step aside and play overseas for a year while allowing the team to retain your draft rights, the Heat will take care of you the following season. So I think Ennis sticks, if only with a non-guaranteed contract to start the season. With Hamilton, a decision has to be made by Aug. 1 on his partial guarantee, and that could set him back. I wouldn't be surprised to see the date for that guarantee changed.
Q: Forget the Big Three. Considering none of the other free agents from last season have signed, doesn't that say all that needed to be said about the Heat bench? -- Davis.
A: Not at all. The start of the free-agent signing period rarely is about supporting players. Plus, some of those players from the end of last season's bench were waiting to see how the Big Three situation shakes out. When you think about it, many of the Heat's bench players were late-offseason additions, and could be this offseason, as well.
July 10, 2014
Q: If LeBron James leaves, what happens to Dwyane Wade? Do you think the Heat sign Wade back at his two-year, $42 million deal or the four- or five-year deal we've been hearing about? I would go with the two-year deal since the Heat will be rebuilding and will need to get him off the books ASAP. -- Joel.
A: I agree. And I believe that was always a consideration. And then, after those two years if Dwyane wants to play on and stay with the Heat, he can do so at a more reasonable number that allows for the addition of talent. In fact, if LeBron were to return at a short deal, I think it's possible that everyone simply puts their money back on the books as it previously was, perhaps even Udonis Haslem. Of course, all this math is secondary to how LeBron resolves his equation. And, for now, at least at the time of this typing, we wait.
Q: Is waiting and waiting and waiting fair to Miami, or even fair to Cleveland? Is it too much to ask someone to make a decision? -- Marty.
A: In this case, with so many moving parts, it might be. While the Cavaliers opened enough cap space for LeBron to get his max deal in Cleveland, they clearly are not finished trying to put the best shine on their pitch. It could be as simple as LeBron waiting to see if the Cavaliers can lure Kevin Love, or waiting to see if Pat Riley can come up with another personnel move.
Q: I cannot endure another 15-67 season. I went to all those [2007-08] games. I was lured into believing something might become of Kasib Powell and Blake Ahearn. G-d help us all. -- Moshe.
A: We're not there yet. Yet.
July 9, 2014
Q: Ira, you are LeBron James sitting back and see Pat Riley sign Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger and then say he's out of cap space. What would you think? -- Dan.
A: First, it doesn't matter what I think. Second, LeBron is as smart as anyone when it comes to judging NBA landscapes. He knew what his desire for as maximum salary would do to the Heat's salary-cap position, and he knew which players likely weren't going to for below-market offers. So he had to sense that the upside could be McRoberts- and Granger-type players. He also had to recognize that such an approach could be the best way to keep his friend Ray Allen alongside with the Heat. Unlike fans who want each and every player regardless of salary-cap implications and logic, LeBron is a general manager who just happens to also wear a uniform. Pat Riley did the best with what he could work with. The question is whether LeBron ultimately respects Riley's judgment.