Q: I love Michael Beasley's game. I've been a big fan since he was drafted. Do you think he has a chance for Sixth Man of the Year and maybe get back on track with his All-Star potential? -- Eric, Mississauga, Ontario,
Q: Erik Spoelstra has used as many as 11 guys in a game. What has changed his philosophy from last year, when he would only play nine and leave Mike Miller on the bench for months? -- Stuart.
A: Honestly, I think it's all the injuries and absences. With Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem missing time, it has allowed him to experiment with different possibilities. Also, after a third consecutive run to the NBA Finals, I think keeping the minutes down for Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh and the regulars is even more of a priority.
Q: If Bosh's and Wade's numbers are down, how much of a pay cut should they expect in their next contracts? -- Walter, Sunny Isles.
A: I think the question misses the entire point. Their numbers are down because they've agreed to sacrifice, in terms of dominating the offense and even in terms of playing time. I highly doubt statistics will factor at all when it comes to their next round of negotiations. The salary cap, luxury tax and potential desire to again play as stand-alone stars all should be greater factors than mere statistics.
November 29, 2013
Q: Did Chris Bosh forget his most recent promise to play and try harder? Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like his effort has been regressing. I cannot understand how a player with his talent can allow third-tier centers and power forwards to outplay him. I don't buy into the excuse that he is a third wheel. Is there something wrong with him? -- Omied, Los Angeles.
A: No. And when you get to watch him in person, you can see that effort is the last thing that should be questioned. He is as active as any player defensively the way he blitzes pick-and-rolls and then scrambles back into the post. He puts in plenty of defensive mileage. To a degree, recent foul trouble has thrown off his timing, as well as efforts to get Dwyane Wade going. And I don't see as many players outplaying him as you do. What I see is a selfless presence not allowing statistics to define his contribution.
Q: With back-to-back season-ending injuries to Derrick Rose, what does that say, if anything, about Dwyane Wade and/or the Heat as an organization keeping him healthy, comparatively speaking? D-Rose and Wade play the same style. It's amazing Dwyane hasn't had the same kind of injuries. -- Kevin, Sunrise.
A: Oh, Dwyane has had more than his share of injuries. But Dwyane also has tamed his game, no longer boasting about falling and rising again. He long ago began to appreciate the toll of those tumbles. Explosive players tend to have explosive injuries. To a degree, Dwyane may have benefited by a loss of some of that explosion.
Q: Why has Udonis Haslem not been playing? He is not injured anymore. -- Sebass, Lake Worth.
A: Because it ain't broke (the Heat's winning streak, not Udonis back). Even Udonis has acknowledged as much. The Heat have been thriving with a shooting wing at power forward during this winning streak, be it Shane Battier of Rashard Lewis. But the Heat also tend to change styles as the season plays out. Seemingly just when a Heat player is counted out, he tends to have his moments. I wouldn't write off Udonis just yet.
November 28, 2013
Q: I guess David Stern had to give it to Pat Riley one last time (nixing the Juwan Howard deal in 1996, penalizing the Heat tanking in the 2008 draft lottery) before he left for good. How can a two-time, back-to-back champion be on the road for Thanksgiving and then Christmas? Champs on the road for holidays is just wrong. -- Julio.
A: And for Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 20, as well (although with Easter on April 20, they'll likely be home for that, for their playoff opener). To a degree, perhaps we should look at the flip side. Because the Heat are on the road Thanksgiving week as well as Christmas week (and flying home on New Year's eve), at least AmericanAirlines Arena workers were able to prepare for Thanksgiving at home and also will be off on Christmas. As for the injustice of it all, the players will be the first ones to tell you that they are thankful year-round for what they have, to a degree every day being like Christmas with their paychecks. Yes, it might be tough on their families, but how many families have dads who get (at least) three consecutive months off every year? Oh, and a happy Thanksgiving to all and a happy Hanukah to many.
Q: Ira, do you think LeBron expects the sort of payday that Kobe received? -- Jason.