Q: Ira, what about Bird Rights? Can't Micky Arison spend and then bring back his stars above the cap? -- Sandor.
Q: Ira, is Pat Riley losing his touch, I see that he now has to bring Erik Spoelstra along? -- Tad.
A: First, you could make an argument that Spoelstra has become somewhat of a closer, based on the way he bonded last summer with Greg Oden and closed that deal. Plus Spoelstra is somewhat of an ace on the hole, the way he has been able to transform his team to best accommodate the skill sets of LeBron, Bosh and Wade. While Riley can only offer limited dollars because of the Heat's salary-cap situation, Spoelstra can offer possibilities to how a player might unlock skill sets and make the game more enjoyable. Spoelstra helped craft James into more of a multi-positional threat, helped Bosh take his game to the perimeter (which, for better or worse, is an approach Bosh has embraced) and allowed Wade to play freely while off the ball. Erik Spoelstra very much is a Heat selling point. Of course, money remains more of a selling point.
Q: Can Shabazz Napier become a starter? -- Allan.
A: Perhaps eventually. But I can't fathom a team in championship-contention mode, which I'm assuming will remain the Heat approach, starting a rookie, no matter where he might have been drafted. But I do like his maturity and believe he will find a way to contribute in his first year. But the Heat need to also carry a veteran, someone even with more experience than Cole. There are times when you need the right NBA play to be made, and done the veteran way.
July 5, 2014
Q: There is no question LeBron James is worthy of a max deal based on what he brings to the table every night. But my question is how can he say, "All I care about is winning. I just want win," in the exit interview and then demand max salary knowing with the CBA how prohibitive that is? Clearly, winning isn't all that matters to LeBron. I am a huge LeBron fan and do not want to see him leave, but this baffles me a little. Your thoughts? -- John.
A: My thought is no one knows what LeBron is thinking, because LeBron hasn't said what he's thinking. Instead, everyone is working through speculation, secondary sources and assumptions. When LeBron completes his deal, whenever he completes his deal, then we can assess it. It's like someone asking, "What did you think of LeBron's performance tomorrow night?" (Re-read that, you'll get the point.) You can't analyze his performance until he gives a performance, whether it's a game or a contract negotiation. Just as we assess his regular season and his postseason, we'll have ample time to assess his offseason . . . at the proper time.
Q: I don't see three to four players left in free agency that would put us over the top. What does Pat Riley see? Thanks. -- Scott, Los Angeles.
A: At this stage, he also does not see three or four players to put a team over the top. He already has those types of players. What he needs are three or four complementary players to help the players that will put the Heat over the top. And there are plenty of those still out there.
Q: How can the Heat not sign Spencer Hawes for five years, $23 million and the Clippers can? -- Dave.
A: Because Pat Riley saw better places to spend his money, perhaps didn't view Hawes as the same fit as the Clippers. In free agency, everything is in the eye of the beholder. You'll only know if the Heat lost out on Hawes when you first see where that money instead went.
July 4, 2014
Q: If Mike Miller were still on the roster, regardless of the NBA Finals outcome to this just-completed season, would we still be in wait mode with LeBron James? Is this mainly about that decision to amnesty a player he obviously wanted to keep? -- John.
A: The simplistic answer is yes. The reality is that if cap space or roster flexibility was the concern, as Pat Riley said, then the move could have been made this offseason. No, it was about a significant luxury-tax savings, a move made with shrewd business sense in the wake of Miller's limited health and contributions. Was it shortsighted? In hindsight, absolutely. And LeBron reminded us of it almost nightly when Dwyane Wade was unavailable. The Arisons have gone above and beyond in their ownership of the Heat, but just like LeBron can have an off night, in retrospect the trust gained by retaining Miller would have been beneficial. The best way for the Heat to make the tax-savings approach worthwhile would be for the Heat to turn the $2.2 million Joel Anthony trade exception into something tangible, where the Heat could tell LeBron, "See what the tax savings got us?" As it is, if the Heat work with cap space this offseason, the Anthony trade exception will vanish.
Q: How would Anthony Morrow be any sort of improvement over James Jones? I don't get that one at all. Great spot-up shooter, but hardly a dynamic player. I'm not one of these fans under the illusion that we can make a major splash with the big names, but give me Jameer Nelson, Marvin Williams and Vince Carter or Shawn Marion before bothering with Morrow. I don't get that one at all. -- Mike.