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.
Q: Could the Heat wind up running their offense through Josh McRoberts? -- Scott, L.A.
A: That's probably a stretch, but having a facilitator at that position presents options for Erik Spoelstra to further diversify his approach. I might not be sold at McRoberts' price point, but I am intrigued by his possibilities.
Q: Ira, I read what you wrote yesterday about players having to wait to sign (and I'm never going to understand the salary cap). But what good does toying with fans' emotions do? -- Tomas.
A: Emotions only get "toyed" with if you allow them to get toyed with. It's sort of similar to the period prior to the trading deadline, when there is equal bluster. The difference is few get moved at the trading deadline, while dozens of players are moved at the start of free agency. Still, based on the delay this summer by players, I don't think it would matter when you make the first day of signing, players would still take their time to maximize their prospects. Free agency is a four-month process that works on its own schedule. So lots of deep breaths are recommended.
July 8, 2014
Q: Ira, after all the Heat have been through with Dwyane Wade, why add another guy who sits more than he plays? What next: Sign Derrick Rose and his crutches? -- Sid.
A: Look, I can appreciate the Josh McRoberts signing. He is a player with a unique skill set who should work well with Erik Spoelstra's systems. I get that. While I think they overpaid for McRoberts, big men who can pass and shoot are the exceptions. And he certainly has proven durable. But the Danny Granger thing almost comes off as desperate, something along the lines of adding a name more than a player (to a degree, it comes off similar to the Greg Oden signing last summer, as if the Heat added the player-formerly-known-as-Danny-Granger). Look, if it works, at that price point, it could be a home run. But the same could have been said about Oden, which never panned out. To be honest, I truly thought Granger would have to work his way back at the veteran minimum. It seems as though the Heat could have gotten more out of the $2 million bi-annual exception. I seriously doubt that if Pat Riley wasn't working with his back against the wall that he would have made such a move. Honestly, I'm not sure I'd have Granger on a higher tier than Michael Beasley at this stage.
Q: I don't get the NBA personnel moratorium. Why can't they sign players July 1? -- Rolf.
A: They basically do, with the type of press releases Pat Riley offered with Monday's moves with McRoberts and Granger. The NBA says it needs the time to compute the salary cap and luxury tax for the following season through an audit during the moratorium period. I'm starting to believe ESPN pays the NBA to keep the moratorium in place to drive ratings. I do think it's a mechanism whose time has come and gone. Open the signing gates on July 1 and worry about the exact numbers later. As it is, teams reach agreements that get modified by the final cap numbers, anyway.
Q: You said the Heat could bring Mario Chalmers back, why? -- Ian.
A: Why did I say it? Because if the Heat are working with salary-cap exceptions instead of cap space, they could use Chalmers' Bird Rights to pay him and go over the cap. They also could use him in a sign and trade for a possible replacement player. For the moment, Chalmers still has use to the Heat. And let's be fair: He was the starting point guard on a two-time champion and four-time NBA Finalist. He remains a quality player.
July 7, 2014Q: Ira, with the overall salary-cap situation in the NBA and the prevailing talk about mid- to low-tier players having almost an obligation to take less to give their existing teams "flexibility" to sign needed players, are the owners laughing themselves all the way to the bank, or is this the first volley in the demise of "super-teams," which have been instrumental in making the NBA a global brand with global appeal? The players must be looking at their own NBA players association reps in disgust, no (re the last CBA)? -- Patrick, Parkland.
A: Yes, the owners are having themselves a grand old time (except for perhaps the rare owner who loses a superstar, or one who is having to sweat out the LeBron James situation). And I have no doubts the players will seek a dramatic overhaul in the next round of negotiations on a collective-bargaining agreement. But I don't think "super teams" are done, just the salaries that star players will have to accept to keep such bands together. Other than NFL players putting up with shocking physical abuse on non-guaranteed contracts, no player in sports is playing at as much of a fiscal deficit these days as the tier of NBA players below the superstars.