A: No. If Kevin Garnett plays this season, it would have to be for the Nets, unless they trade him or agree to waive him to get him to more of a contender. The Heat have neither the cap space nor the championship odds to entice a move toward K.G.

 


September 15, 2014

Q: Please Ira, please explain to me why Mario Chalmers continues to start for this team? What am I not seeing? He would be a backup on most teams and we need someone that can create, penetrate and finish more than ever at the point-guard spot. -- Patrick, Miami.

A: And yet, if you're going to have criticism of Chalmers, I think it should come on the other end. Mario is fine on the offensive end, and should have the opportunity to open up his offensive game with LeBron James gone. I have no issue with Chalmers on that end. It's on the other end, where containment is a major issue, that concerns are legitimate. Starting Chalmers is not a concern; it's who the Heat can play at point guard defensively at the ends of close games. Two seasons ago, that was Norris Cole in the playoffs. Finding someone to stop opposing point guards is the greatest concern at the position. And that's not a challenge, at his age, that should be added to Dwyane Wade's responsibilities.

Q: Do we need another Joel Anthony type? -- Faye.

A: Yes. This team has precious little rim deterrence beyond Chris Andersen, and Birdman is moving closer to a limited-minutes stage of his career. With concerns such as the above with Chalmers at point guard, it is essential the Heat be able to offer a second line of defense that's something more than Chris Bosh or Udonis Haslem stepping in to take charges. Whether Khem Birch is NBA ready is another story. Based on the way the Finals played out, I'm not sure that the Heat didn't actually miss Anthony as a defensive deterrent.

Q: If the TV deal does increase the cap and max as significantly as some expect, paying Bosh $23 million per year may be a relative bargain come 2016, if the max hits that $30 million-$35 million per-year range. -- Andrew, Miami.

A: A legitimate point, but only if Chris can return to the all-around presence he was in Toronto. Whether the max is $30 million or $20 million, you can't be spending that type of money on a player whose contribution have been as limited as Bosh's in recent seasons.



September 14, 2014

Q: Is there anyone on the roster now other than Dwyane Wade who can break down a defense and penetrate to the basket? Last season too often it was LeBron James-or-bust with Wade out of the lineup. Their roster remains built for small ball, but without the workhorse to make it work. -- Jason, Los Angeles.

A: I agree with your analysis. Yes, I appreciate in the wake of the NBA Finals against San Antonio how everyone is pointing to the Spurs' success in playing a five-man game. But I also know for years that just about every coach has preached such an approach (just as every coach says at the start of camp that their team will run). The reality is that invariably you wind up needing isolation scores, when the defense pushes you late in the clock and you have to have one player getting it done on his own. During the Finals, Wade could not beat his man off the dribble, which put that much more pressure on an all-or-nothing LeBron approach. Now Wade has to produce in such a role, with the apparent hope that Danny Granger can provide some of that off the bench, as well. Lament all you want the tendency of NBA teams to lapse into one-on-one play, but sometimes the defenses are so good at blowing up set plays that one-on-one becomes the only option as the clock winds down.

Q: So now there are reports saying the racial slur on Luol Deng came from a scouting report from the Cavs. So LeBron left a first-class organization for a clown show? -- Julio.

A: Actually yes, which is why the Cavaliers will have the entire roster enter out of a Volkswagen Beetle at midcourt this coming season during pregame introductions. The reality is the Cavaliers positively bumbled their way through the past four seasons, doing just about everything wrong, from botched drafts to the NBA's worst combined record over that span, even as they were trying to make the playoffs. Another reality is that LeBron is bigger than the game, and changes everything with his presence, no matter what transpired while he was away. Incompetence + LeBron = championship contention. It just does.

Q: Bring back Beasley. -- Patricia,

A: At this point, your request might be more about the NBA as a whole than the Heat. The irony is last season hardly was a failure for Michael with the Heat.



September 13, 2014

Q: How will the Luol Deng situation affect the locker room? Will it make Heat rally together to form a more cohesive unit? He has proved to be a true positive influence able to handle adversity! -- Adrian, Miami.

A: First, I don't think that's necessarily Luol's locker-room personality. Plus, even when LeBron James was the center of attention, Erik Spoelstra kept Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem as the two co-captains, and I certainly don't expect that to change. What I do expect to change is Chris Bosh's voice. As the highest-paid player on the team (a distinction he previously shared with James) and holding the longest contract on the team, his voice has to resonate more than it has during the past four seasons. I still expect Haslem to be the emotional leader, and I still expect Wade to offer championship perspective. But I think it's Bosh who has to set more of a tone. As for Deng, it's difficult to establish a leadership role while holding a two-year contract that allows you, because of an option clause, to become a free agent as soon as next summer. While Deng was brought in for several reasons, I'm not sure emerging as a leader was one of them. But, as you note, the last few weeks just might have changed that equation.