A: I think anything about Durant is overstated, because it remains such an abstract with two years still to play out. But, yes, I do think Chris has the type of game that should age gracefully and prove alluring, just as Miami will always prove alluring as a destination. And I don't agree about the lottery approach, because for every lottery star there is an Anthony Bennett. That's where I give credit to teams like the Mavericks and Hawks, for continuing to give their fans a playoff product. Yes, it's about championships. But it's also about watch-ability.
A: Well, McRoberts, Bosh, Mario Chalmers, James Ennis, Danny Granger and others shoot 3-pointers on this roster at enough of a clip to keep the opposing defense somewhat honest. I think what the Heat want to do is get away from players who only shoot 3-pointers. Yes, you need to space the floor, but the question becomes whether you allow that to start compromising your rebounding and defense.
July 14, 2014
Q: Ira, Pat Riley is engineered for these circumstances. -- Alfredo.
A: Being candid here, I honestly thought the Heat were going to go into 2007-08 mode after the loss of LeBron James, just as they did when Shaquille O'Neal began shutting it down. Instead, Riley showed there's still plenty of fight left, that he, not Phil Jackson, will be the feistiest 69-year-old team president in the NBA. First there was the caution-to-the-wind contract for Chris Bosh, affirming a conviction that Bosh can be a build-around star. Then there was a wild Sunday when Riley locked up Luol Deng, shunned the outside noise about Mario Chalmers, and got Chris Andersen to agree without Andersen definitively knowing about his contract terms. Like I said on Twitter, if you're having your taxes done next year, consider having them done by Andy Elisburg, who knows the CBA better than any accountant could possibly know the tax code. The ultimate reality: There is plenty of fight left at 601 Biscayne. Good for them. Good for Heat fans.
Q: Could the Heat get Carlos Boozer if he is amnestied by the Bulls. -- Jayce.
A: You must have remaining cap space to bid during amnesty waivers. Only if a player clears that process without anyone making the minimum necessary bid can the player become a free agent, as was the case with Mike Miller last year, when there supposedly was considerable doubt about his health. Boozer is likely to receive a bid that would put him beyond the Heat's grasp.
Q: What about . . .? -- Everyone.
A: I have been receiving these non-stop ever since the Heat got active Sunday, especially names like Lance Stephenson, Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe. All three are restricted free agents, with their current teams allowed to match. The Heat not only lack the funds for a bidding war, they essentially lack any salary-cap funds beyond the veteran minimum. A proven veteran who joins the Heat from this point forward will be someone who is not making salary a priority.
July 13, 2014
Q: Perhaps I am in the minority, but I am not that upset that LeBron James is leaving. Yes, we have had four wonderful years with four Finals appearances and two championships, but being the overwhelming favorite every year can get boring. Think about it: The regular season has had little meaning other than determining if the Heat will get home-court advantage all the way through the playoffs or simply for the Eastern Conference finals. Every game was played with managing minutes of players to reach mid-April with optimum strength. With LeBron gone, the regular-season games will once again be significant. Young players will get a chance to develop, Chris Bosh has a chance to star instead of playing a supporting role and Pat Riley can rejuvenate himself by showing why he is the best executive in the NBA. I have been a Miami Heat fan since Game 1 in Year 1 back in 1988. My children were in elementary school back then and now have children of their own. We have gone through ups and downs with the Heat. We went through the Shaquille O'Neal years and won a championship and we have gone through the LeBron years with two more. Remember in that same time period that we won three championships our neighbor to the north, Orlando, has won none. So instead of being depressed and angry with LeBron, I say thanks for the memories, we wish you the best, you have gone back to Cleveland for very noble reasons, but I will be cheering along with my children and grandchildren for us to defeat you and the Cavaliers each and every time. A new Miami Heat era is about to begin. -- Jeffrey.
A: Wow. Powerful. And the point that resonates here is that every game will matter again, the standings will matter, there no longer can be coasting and cruising, and maintenance and marginal interest. Those games against the Jazz and 76ers and Kings and Bucks can't be blown off. It will be different, and it might not be as dynamic or dramatic, but I agree that it could be compelling in a different way than these past four seasons.
Q: It was a magical feeling being at AmericanAirlines Arena that June evening in 2012 when the Miami Heat won their first NBA championship (second overall) at home. Mike Miller couldn't miss and LeBron finally became a champion. As an NBA fan, I thought the championship only occurs in Boston, Los Angeles, Chicago and every few years in San Antonio. I hope LeBron James and Cavaliers fans get to experience that special feeling together one day. They deserve it. Thanks LeBron for creating so much joy on a summer night in June 2012. -- Stuart.
A: I've been getting more of these than the sniping I might have expected. It's almost as if there has been a domination hangover and a desire for something more competitive and intriguing. We shall see.
Q: The future looks bleak for the Heat. James was not going to play another season for two video coordinators disguised as coaches. When he saw the Orlando Heat summer-league team end up with a 1-4 record, James left. Dan Gilbert surely pointed this out to James about the Cavs new coach David Blatt, that time and time again, from Russia to Israel and several other prominent head coaching jobs in between, David has done one thing: win. James clearly sees the player-development program of the Heat is in shambles, and has a very poor track record of producing replacements for retiring veterans. Riley can shuffle around players, but the coaching staff needs to be shaken up and replaced with people who only know winning. The summer league may be about scouting, but the Heat should never accept losing on any level. Famously Kobe Bryant took on every competition, no matter how trivial, with the determination to win. -- L.K.
A: So summer league is the reason LeBron is gone? I knew it. It's all Nobel Boungou-Colo's fault. And while many reasons could be cited for the Heat's ugly finish in the Finals, how can anyone blame a coach who helped get his team to four consecutive NBA Finals?