How To Make A Lot Of Money Quora: Tips For Realising Your Affiliate Marketing Vision
How To Make A Lot Of Money Quora: Tips For Realising Your Affiliate Marketing Vision
You may think that affiliate marketing is a confusing, complex topic, but by acquiring sufficient knowledge, you can learn to generate substantial profits.
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When selecting an affiliate marketing program, find out how the company tracks orders that are not made on their website.
If you direct orders to the company that get made by phone or by mail, and those orders are not connected back to your affiliate ID, you could lose out on significant portions of your commission.
To make the most of your affiliate marketing efforts, concentrate on the affiliates that generate the most money, and ditch unprofitable ones.
Watch how your affiliates perform on a regular basis.
Taking out the least effective affiliate partners makes room for better ones.
A lot of affiliate marketers get instructions via email, but then keep going back to check them over and over.
Saving important assignments to Notepad or Word documents will save time and make your effort more productive.
Instead of having to go back and check your mail, you can simply reference your Notepad.
Things that are very wanted will be a deal breaker for your success.
Quality is always good, but not all quality products are also extremely popular.
You only raise the level of competition when you choose a wildly popular product to market.
In this situation, you may not make much profit.
Finding an affiliate program that has multiple payment choices is a good idea if you want to get your money quick.
Some affiliate companies will only mail a check for payment to you after you have reached a pre determined dollar amount.
Others will pay you through direct deposit or other payment methods such as PayPal and AlertPay.
When you have a sports themed website, your customers are going to come to your website seeking all things sporting related.
Just throwing an unrelated affiliate link on your site won’t help you much.
Visitors are much more likely to click on links that have something to do with your site’s content and theme.
There are a wide variety of affiliate programs.
They all supply different products, services and commission structures.
There are many different options for partners in affiliate marketing and each has their own positives and negatives.
Some sites can be poorly designed, making them tough to navigate.
Successful webmasters won’t let these lower quality sites prevent them from earning a profit.
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Don’t select an affiliate program without first determining who your audience will be and what their needs are.
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Build up trust with your readers.
Readers that feel connected to you will trust the advice you give them and are far more likely to click your links.
Employing affiliate marketing strategies can enable you to generate more online sales.
These programs generate high levels of traffic.
When you are trying to decide on an affiliate program you should consider the payment you will receive, ease of navigation and the directory’s popularity.
Be aware of your audience when marketing affiliate products.
You need to find what your audience needs and work hard to meet those needs.
Investigate what makes readers visit your site, and read any feedback they leave you.
Which areas of your website are the most popular?
Give a reason to your visitors to click on your banner ads, such as a game or a trivia question.
Most visitors cannot abstain from clicking your lead banner.
Tactics like these are a great way to drive customers to your site.
Lifetime commissions are quickly becoming a rare commodity in the affiliate marketing world.
They should still be sought out since they could offer great rewards, though.
In the affiliate marketing model, the vendor pays the affiliate for each customer that buys a product through the affiliate’s referral link.
But the drawback is, the commission will only be settled if the customer purchases within a predetermined period of time.
For this reason, it is worth your while to seek out these opportunities.
Only promote a product that you can stand behind.
Any product recommendations affect you.
People will trust you more if you promote products with a good reputation.
You can keep these customers if you promote quality products at decent prices.
Not all programs that claim to pay 100 percent commission are scams.
Before you completely ignore this opportunity, read the details.
There are companies out there that take the commission on upfront sales as a loss leader in order to make serious profits on subscription sales.
When seeing an offer such as this one, look closely, as it may still be profitable.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is clear that affiliate marketing can be a simple process.
If you do your research, get out there and network, and put in the work required, it will help you grow your site.
Affiliate marketing can improve your business if you follow these tips.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley says he has no plans to retire and will remain an active participant for the team.
A: What Sunday night in Boston confirmed is that LeBron James sets his own stage, controls his own environment, dictates his own rules.
And, in the end, deservedly so.
What comes next could ultimately tip the balance, or at least set in motion balance tipping, if Cleveland wins the title.
That would leave the Cavaliers with four NBA Finals trips and two titles these past four seasons, the same as LeBron accomplished with the Heat.
Riley’s comments — both before and after LeBron’s Decision 2.0 — were from the singular Heat perspective, as they should have been.
That has been his prism for more than two decades.
But now it appears, more so than at any point this season, that LeBron will remain in Cleveland, choose to extend his Cavaliers legacy.
And Cleveland, more likely than not, will remain a team capable of leaving the Heat in its dust.
The Cavaliers attempted to reshuffle their mix with mixed results at midseason, and now likely will attempt to do the same again this summer, perhaps even putting Kevin Love into play, after winning Sunday in his absence.
One more title and there will be no question about the team that defines LeBron’s career.
Of course one more title will be a far, far greater challenge than anything LeBron faced in the East to this stage.
Q: Go back and watch the handshakes with Dan Gilbert.
LeBron James barely shakes, with zero eye contact, while the rest of team firmly shake and embrace. — Jones.
A: Which is why a degree of doubt will continue with the Cleveland decision if there is not a championship.
What LeBron has done in Cleveland these past four seasons has been in spite of Dan Gilbert.
It is similar to how it ended in Miami, that no one — owner, team president, coach — was going to dictate LeBron’s terms.
Ultimately, he has proven worthy of the right to essentially act as player-coach-GM-owner.
Especially this season, LeBron James is the Cleveland Cavaliers, more of a singular star than at any time during his Heat tenure or his Kyrie Irving tenure in Cleveland.
A: He might come cheaper than previously anticipated, but I doubt he would cheap enough for a team lacking salary-cap space — such as the Heat — to have any legitimate shot.
That said, I agree that he could be exactly what the Heat would be looking for, a streak scorer for a team prone to scoring droughts.
He would very much be a Heat-type reclamation project, but I highly doubt, with all of his injury concerns, that he would take a short-term deal in order to re-establish value.
With all he already has left on the table, I would assume he would attempt to cash in as much as possible in what could be his last significant bite at the salary-cap apple, depending on his hip and health.
But if available at the Heat’s price, then it should be a no-brainer, no matter the Heat backcourt glut.
A: The only way such a move ultimately would lead to cap relief would be if Goran Dragic does not pick up his 2019-20 option or if Tyler Johnson could be dealt.
Otherwise, even without Whiteside, the Heat still would be hard up against the 2019-20 cap.
A: It always is encouraging to see a player work at his craft, seek out assistance, learn from those with more experience.
It is something Hassan Whiteside has done, as well.
The commitment by Bam Adebayo is a continuation of the work he put with the Heat staff since being drafted a year ago.
I highly doubt that the Heat would trade more than one of their centers.
So I doubt the “too” part of your question would come into play.
Nor do I believe there is any desire by the Heat to trade Adebayo, but perhaps an acknowledgement of his trade value in relation to his rookie-scale contract.
One area that will go beyond tutoring from Rasheed Wallace, and one that has to be addressed, is Bam’s recognition of the Heat’s defensive schemes.
That is something that will require work with the Heat staff and teammates at AmericanAirlines Arena this offseason, or perhaps meeting up with the staff at summer league, even if not playing there.
Q: Ira, if we can’t afford to keep Wayne Ellington, can we get anything back by sign-and-trading him. — John.
A: A sign-and-trade isn’t a factor with Wayne because the Heat either will be able/willing to take on the luxury-tax hit by re-signing him, or not.
If the Heat were to sign-and-trade Wayne for a player of similar salary, it still would have a similar impact on the salary cap and luxury tax.
But also keep in mind that the tax is not computed until season’s end, so there could be a workaround for the Heat after the fact if Wayne is retained.
An equally significant question could be whether there will be enough playing time for Ellington for the Heat to consider moving into the tax, considering the anticipated return of Dion Waiters.
Q: Someday please tally up your top 10 questions asked (by volume).
I’m guessing it’s some combo of LeBron betrayal, chastising Pat Riley for challenging LeBron in 2014, D-Wade leaving, D-Wade arriving, Hassan, Hassan, Beasley, Beasley, Beasley, Beasley. — Philip, Seoul.
A: You’re probably close, with Beasley closer to the top spots on the list.
But there have been a surprising amount of questions about Spoelstra these past two seasons, especially in recent weeks and months.
It seems as if the Teflon is wearing off the coaching staff and front office in the wake of a single playoff victory over the past two seasons.
A: The initial decision should be simple: The Heat have to make a $50,000 qualifying offer by the end of June to retain the right to match any outside offers, committing to nothing more than that share of a two-way contract.
The decision would become more complex if another team swoops in with a guaranteed offer of a standard contract.
In that case, with their glut of guards, the Heat might have to allow Jones to walk, unless the backcourt is thinned in advance.
As it is, the Heat would have Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters, Rodney McGruder, Tyler Johnson and possibly even Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington and Dwyane Wade in the backcourt.
Q: I get by fine on 2K all the time without Hassan Whiteside. — Samad.
A: You can’t get “past that” when the team president feels strongly enough during his postseason comments to mention an intervention between his coach and his highest-paid player.
This is not like the email that Riley said he was composing regarding Dwyane Wade’s departure in the 2016 offseason and then delayed sending.
Erik Spoelstra and Hassan Whiteside are still here.
And so, therefore, is the cloud over the franchise.
It has now been three weeks since Riley spoke — and still no word on any intervention, meeting or conciliation.
Instead, we’re left to read into social-media posts and advertising campaigns.
And we’re left to believe that no one seems quite on the same page.
Now, if the end game — or at least the intention — is a Whiteside trade, then, as stated here before, there understandably is no need for an intervention or anything otherwise.
Still, that is a risky proposition when there also appears to be no simple ripcord when it comes to the two years remaining on Hassan’s contract.
I truly believe that Whiteside and Spoelstra would like to find a way to make this work, see a value in each other.
But the vision moving forward seemingly also must eventually be addressed.
It is one thing to give a player — and a coach — time to decompress after a season.
But pretty soon things will start moving quickly, with the period around the NBA draft a potentially busy trading period, let alone the personnel whirlwind a week later during free agency.
From the outside, it sure seems as if separation instead of conciliation is the end game.
A: I think it is more of a case of out of sight, out of the voters’ minds when it comes to postseason awards.
The fact that Bam Adebayo, as a No. 14 selection who received limited playing time, finished 11th in the All-Rookie voting, is impressive.
As for Josh Richardson not making an All-Defensive team, that only is a matter of time.
Of course, if the Heat do keep this roster mostly intact, then I again would expected limited national exposure. To the victors go the . . . Well, you get the picture.
Q: Hi, Ira.
Knowing the results of All-Defensive teams made me notice that only two (Al Horford and Draymond Green on second team) of them are playing on teams that are in the conference finals.
Taking that into account, I think is time for the Heat to start thinking more on the offensive end; we need players that consistently can make baskets.
Furthermore, I don’t think the best scenario is to have a player who is oriented primarily toward the defensive end. — Franco, Argentina.
A: That’s one thing that you can expect to continue under Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley, that defense will remain a priority.
But there also has been seeming acknowledgement that it can’t always come at the cost of defense, which is why we began seeing more and more Kelly Olynyk this past season.
And that ultimately could be the challenge for Hassan Whiteside, to become more of a complete offensive player.
A: If Whiteside is traded — and for all the speculation, including here, there certainly is no guarantee, nor even insight on whether the Heat are so included — then I would think the Heat would prefer to play with either Olynyk or Adebayo on the bench, if only to have sufficient depth at center.
(I do wonder, after all he has been through, whether Willie Reed would still hold interest for the Heat.)
Even with Olynyk’s ability to stretch the floor, I’m not sold that the two would offer enough defensive answers against today’s small-ball lineups.
That doesn’t mean the two couldn’t be paired at times, but starting together on a regular basis could be a stretch (they started together five times this past season, with the Heat 2-3 in those games).
The greater question here is whether Olynyk-Adebayo would be Erik Spoelstra’s preference with his power rotation over rotations that feature Hassan Whiteside.
The muddled end to this season only amplified that question.
Q: Bam Adebayo didn’t stat pad enough like the other rookies. — Alex.
A: This is in response to Bam Adebayo coming up one vote shy from making one of the NBA’s All-Rookie teams on Tuesday.
To me, this goes back to Erik Spoelstra’s comment about how Bam grew his game faster than many other lottery picks because of the opportunity to compete in a playoff race, something that wasn’t the case for first-team selections Kyle Kuzma or Lauri Markkanen or second-team selections Dennis Smith, Lonzo Ball, John Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic or Josh Jackson.
And, yes, if the Heat were not a playoff team, it is quite possible the rebounds and blocked shots that accompanied additional time in the lineup likely would have pushed him over the hump in the voting.
But those in the know recognized something special with his defensive abilities and he yet could emerge as the type of hard-rolling big man that has defined these new-age NBA lineups.
Q: Since the playoffs ended for the Heat I notice most fans are already going into the offseason with too much hope on superstar talent for the Heat based off the questions you are constantly asked.
For the most part, it’s usually Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson as trade pieces for players such as Karl-Anthony Towns, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, etc.
Honestly, Heat fans are going to be upset if they think that’s enough to acquire those talents, not to mention we have no draft picks.
At best, a more obtainable offseason for us is just getting rid of these bad contracts we are locked into, to get us in position for 2019 free agency.
I’d be a happy Heat fan if we can, at minimum, get rid of a lot of long-term contracts this summer and regain financial flexibility. — Earl, Jersey City.
A: One of the things I’ve enjoyed in this space the past few days is the open give and take about where the Heat stand, with an attempt at balancing fawning Heat Nation approval against the demand that anyone and everyone be excised.
As to your points about what the front office must do, keep in mind that two of the league’s biggest transaction dates — the June 21 NBA draft and the July 1 start to free agency — have yet to arrive.
Seemingly with each of the Heat’s recent signings there has been an inference that it was a matter of collecting both talent and potential trade assets.
Now we’ll see what comes next.
I would find it hard to believe, particularly in the wake of Pat Riley’s postseason comments, that the Heat will come back with this same roster.
Something will happen. Only then can we assess where the team stands heading into next season.
Q: Is it possible the Heat look to trade into this year’s draft by unloading an unwanted Hassan Whiteside or Tyler Johnson contract. — Jake, Temecula, Calif.
A: Actually, it is possible you would have to add a pick into such a deal to move off such contracts, particularly Johnson’s.
Those names, alone, likely won’t get you anywhere near lottery traction.
Q: Most Heat fans, including myself, would come back if the team were to tank for four or five years.
Sixers fans came back. Cavs fans came back.
Suns fans are going to come back.
Don’t take this the wrong way, but I think your excuse is a cop out, because Ira Winderman doesn’t want to endure half a decade of curtains covering the upper deck. It takes a young star to attract a young star.
Except for very few examples, the only way to obtain that first young star is in the draft, normally in the high- to mid-lottery range, unless a team was lucky enough to draft a Donovan Mitchell or Giannis Antetokounmpo with a late lottery pick.
As for Andrew Wiggins, the only reason he might be available is because he’s been such a disappointment.
Let’s just say the Heat were to acquire him this summer.
I guarantee a year from now, fans would be complaining about his bloated contract.
One of the more profound things LeBron James always says is that you can’t shortcut the process.
Even though he used this phrase in the context of training, it also applies to team building.
I think the more Pat Riley tries to dig the Heat out of this hole, the deeper the hole will be. — Rich, West Palm Beach.
A: A few things here, but first a personal disclaimer: I neither root for (or against) the Heat and have enjoyed covering the team even during the down times, because there always remain stories to tell and I appreciate the circle (and cycles) of NBA life.
But I also know that four or five years, in the NBA or anywhere else, is a long time.
Now, if you’re a startup business such as an expansion team, that’s one thing.
But there are not many business models were the preferred path is to be shoddy for such an extended period after previously offering quality.
In the case of the 76ers, I believe their fans had come to be numbed and disinterested for years.
Miami is a different market, a place that often requires fans to give up on previous allegiances and accept adopted teams.
Such trust is difficult to create in the first place (as evidenced by the amount of Celtics and Knicks fans when those teams play at AmericanAirlines Arena) and even more difficult to regain.
The thing is, as you mentioned, with deft drafting, there remains the opportunity to uncover quality without dropping to the previous depths of the 76ers.
And the reality at this moment is that the Heat do not own their 2021 first-round pick, so you basically would be talking about going all in (or is it “all out”) the next two seasons. Basically, this team is not positioned to tank.
A: For the most part, I take “Heat Culture” or “Heat Nation” as marketing elements, and little more.
But moving beyond catch phrases, it’s not as if most businesses don’t have their own standards.
The Heat’s standard essentially is about hard, often relentless, work.
It is interesting, however, how Erik Spoelstra often points out that the Heat way is not for everybody.
When you’re up, you can have exacting standards.
But I do wonder that when you’re down if relenting might not afford a wider talent pool.
But marketing slogans hardly are what drive the on-court product.
Q: Ira, there seems to be a lot of back and forth on how much blame Pat Riley should take for this mess we are in.
We all love Pat and appreciate how he turned things around for this Heat franchise.
Nobody disputes this.
But it just feels like Pat’s standard blueprint for building a contender isn’t working this time around.
We seem further away than ever, with no hope in sight.
With the current CBA, star players are taking the massive extensions with their current teams and changing teams much less.
That makes building through free agency almost impossible.
I love Pat and always will, but I think their needs to be an acknowledgement that the current plan isn’t working and a change in course seems necessary. — John.
A: Actually, even in the era of the super-max contract, we might be experiencing more movement, when considering how Chris Paul, Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Paul George all changed teams last summer.
But I do believe Heat Nation (oops), needs to dial back what you refer to as “this mess” or “no hope in sight.”
The Heat won 44 games this past season, made a three-game move up the standings and advanced to the playoffs.
The same jump pushes them to 47 next season.
I have seen dire days (see the response to the first question above) and this is neither a mess nor hopeless, but rather, at the moment, a rough patch.
The Heat still have enough players, who, if they are at their best, can present a competitive threat.
A: Or Karl-Anthony Towns.
Or one of the Raptors’ guards.
Or perhaps Otto Porter.
Or maybe CJ McCollum.
That’s the thing, with such limited free-agency money around the league this offseason, and with so many teams looking to reformulate in the wake of the dominance of the Warriors, Rockets and Cavaliers, and the impending further ascension of the Celtics and 76ers, plenty of teams will be looking to change things up.
And that hardly makes it the worst time for the Heat to potentially put Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic into play.
I believe you will see deals this summer that will trump last summer’s deals of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony.
A: This is sports. There will always be expectations and limited patience.
It is why Riley found himself out as Lakers coach after almost nothing but success and why Riley moved on from players such as P.J. Brown and Eddie Jones after they had done so much for the franchise.
Again, put Riley on a lie detector, and he’d probably acknowledge that there have been more misses than hits in recent years.
Yes, I agree it’s cyclical.
But there is nothing wrong about questioning a team amid a down cycle, especially when you’re passionate enough about a team to care.
It certainly beats apathy.
Q: I think that at this point, Gordon Hayward should be very worried with each win the Celtics accomplish.
He doesn’t have a position on this team anymore.
He is the odd man out.
His production right now is being done by Jayson Tatum, and Tatum is a lot more athletic than Hayward and better on both ends of the court.
I think they try to move Hayward to another team and pick up more draft picks (that’s what I would do at least), which has worked wonderfully for them. — Javier, Miami.
A: First, this series against the Cavaliers hardly is over yet.
Then there is the matter of being good enough to win against the West, which is where 3-point shooting would be especially handy.
But you do have to wonder about where Hayward would fit in with what the Celtics have unearthed in both Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
Still, if you’re hinting the Heat get back in that chase, it’s not as if they possesses the types of picks Danny Ainge would covet (and I certainly would be careful dealing with fleecing Danny Ainge).
The irony is that the Jazz thrived in Hayward’s absence, the Celtics appear to be doing the same, and the 76ers series showed how much the Heat miss not having a player like Hayward.
A: You’ve sort of addressed the points I had been making.
Mostly, if you don’t see Tyler as a starter, then I’m not sure the positional delineation matters, anyway.
As Pat Riley has said, position-less basketball is about the offensive end, but that you still need to match up defensively.
My concern is more about Tyler matching up with physical shooting guards (which is about more than height). I would have no issue with casting Tyler at point guard alongside a bigger point guard who could defend opposing wings.
So I guess it comes down to whether you believe the ship has sailed on attempting to cast Tyler as a point guard.
And perhaps it has.
A: Presented to meet our fair-and-balanced quota for the week.
A: But the world also was a different place in July 2016.
There still was a workable path to victory for a mainstream center.
There also was a Heat roster devastated by the loss of LeBron James and illness of Chris Bosh.
Beyond that, there also could have been hope that Whiteside could show the ability to morph into something closer to what Clint Capela has offered the Rockets, a big man with enough foot speed to defend opposing power forwards and enough basketball IQ to dominate as a roll man in the pick-and-roll.
The irony is the Capela is about to get Whiteside money, with suitors to line up for him just as the Heat and other did for Whiteside.
If Whiteside was Capela, the Heat probably wouldn’t be in the place they are right now.
Q: Erik Spoelstra: “It’s a different league now.”
Deandre Ayton is about to be a top pick. — Lex.
A: And, as stated above, it’s not as if the NBA is done with centers.
First, Ayton has shown the ability to score from distance, but that was not Arizona’s preferred style.
Second, there are plenty of centers who thrive in the modern style, including Karl-Anthony Towns.
If the Heat opt to move forward with Hassan Whiteside, then, if a willingness — a true willingness — is there from both sides, there certainly is the opportunity to update what Whiteside can offer.
A: I don’t think “hubris” is the right word. I do think “culture” could be part of it, though.
What I mean by that is how often the Heat and Riley and Erik Spoelstra talk about how the Heat approach is not for everybody.
There is a specific way of doing things and either you’re in or you’re out.
It is an approach that largely has appealed to players in the margin, many who have resurrected their careers (and bank accounts) with a complete buy in.
But in 2018, perhaps it is time to accept that there are other ways, ways that would make it easier to accommodate rookies, ways that might get a larger pool of free-agent interest.
You certainly cannot, in any way, argue against the overall body of work during Riley’s tenure.
But just as teams often break seasons into 20-game segments to judge growth, the Heat’s most recent segments, in terms of years, hardly have been overwhelming.
Spoelstra has changed his offense to accommodate the need for 3-point shooting.
He has altered his defense to play to the strengths of Hassan Whiteside.
Perhaps this is a summer there also is an organizational rethink, with this somewhat of a gap year, anyway, without a draft pick or cap space.
A: I believe there would have been a better chance if a win-now team had jumped up the order, which was not the case with teams such as the Celtics, 76ers, Pistons, Cavaliers or even Clippers.
As it is, the teams at the top of the draft order are teams still building or rebuilding.
I’m not sure there would be a veteran-for-pick trade available ahead of Cleveland at No. 8.
Remember, though most such trades would involve the Heat taking back salary, in some cases bad salaries.
I’m not sure in this draft, where the top tier is three deep, that such a move would either be necessary or prudent for the Heat.
And I’m not sure that Erik Spoelstra confidant David Fizdale, at No. 9, will be calling the Heat to deal for Hassan Whiteside.
A: It is if Hassan Whiteside plays (or is utilized) as nothing more than an average player.
There are not many, if any, positions where the Heat going into game working at a position of strength.
The Heat difference had been thought to be in the middle.
And then is wasn’t.
That is why there is the conjecture about the need to add someone who could be what the Heat perhaps thought Whiteside could be — a difference maker in the lineup.
A: Don’t take this the wrong way, but it really doesn’t matter what the fans push for, it’s about what ownership pushes for.
And, to this point, I cannot remember the last time Micky Arison or Nick Arison have injected themselves into the conversation.
So that means, at the moment, that the ultimate voice remains Pat Riley’s.
I do believe, however, that could change if the front office can’t cook up something at least perceived as a roster upgrade this summer.
So, to a degree, I guess that could have the front office on the clock.
Q: Hi, Ira. I don’t see this roster as being at all a good fit for Erik Spoelstra’s defense-first concepts.
There are too many players who are defensively very limited, either by being too small (Tyler Johnson), slow (Kelly Olynyk), old (Dwyane Wade), foul-prone (Hassan Whiteside), or just much better fitted for offense than defense (Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington).
It’s not those other players’ faults that they’re small, slow, old, etc.
It’s not lack of player effort or failure to buy into Heat/Spoelstra culture that keeps the players from transcending those physical limitations.
It’s also not a coaching staff failure.
Take this as a defense of Spoelstra for not having been given the tools to do things his way.
Or as an indictment of Spoelstra for being too inflexible about trying to force ill-fitting players into a system they’re unsuited for, as opposed to being more open to utilizing different approaches with different rosters, as Pat Riley himself did as coach of the Showtime Lakers, the lunch-pail Knicks, and the more balanced Heat.
Or take it as an indictment of the front office that paired a defensive coach with too many players who don’t fit into his system. — Patrick, Miami.
A: And yet it was that type of lineup that even Toronto came to realize didn’t work in the playoffs.
I doubt you will see many, if any, teams move forward with two such big men in alignments.
It is why the Heat had so much trouble finding minutes this past season for Whiteside, Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk. As for James Johnson at small forward, I had initially thought that might have been the approach when he arrived, but teams often went so small that he was left exposed on the wing.
At times, it feels as if this roster was cobbled together from leftover pieces, rather than pieced together by design.
Q: Now that the season has ended I think we all can agree that, yeah, James Johnson came around the last month.
But for most of the season, he looked like a guy who was satisfied with his payday and not in very good shape. — Douglas.
A: Simply put, James Johnson has to be better and more consistent than he was this past season.
For all the talk about the contracts of Hassan Whiteside and Tyler Johnson, the deal that may lead to the most second guessing could be that of James Johnson.
Q: I’m not giving up on Hassan Whiteside, even though he really doesn’t fit into Erik Spoelstra’s offense.
Hopefully Spoelstra won’t be so stubborn, but rather play to Whiteside’s strength. — Joel.
A: To me, as we wait for the “intervention” that is never going to happen (or the trade that might happen), this is the simplest of all Heat offseason decisions.
Pat Riley asks (if he hasn’t already) Erik Spoelstra if he intends to play Hassan the 30 minutes a game that Riley said he would prefer.
If Spoelstra, and this is where candor is essential, says no, then at least the front office knows where it stands with player and coach and can move forward accordingly.
A: You always want to sell high.
And considering that it was Eastern Conference coaches who selected him as an All-Star Game reserve, there must be some perceived value from teams.
Unless you believe the Heat are a season or two away from true contention, then I believe it would behoove the Heat to see what the market is among teams who could take a more win-now approach with Goran.
While I appreciate the perspective that players best thrive with a true playmaker running the offense, I’m not sure Goran truly ever has been afforded that opportunity, anyway, with Dwyane Wade, James Johnson or Justise Winslow alongside, let alone Dion Waiters, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson.
A: He looks down upon them because they’ve tended to not be win-now prospects from where he often has drafted them.
I actually disagree about his draft evaluators, who have been able to mine young talent from deep in the draft and beyond.
I believe where Riley has gotten into trouble has been drafting the “chalk,” players such as Michael Beasley, Justise Winslow, Shabazz Napier, whom the consensus decided had to be taken at the Heat’s draft slots.
Then, when the Heat have drafted later, they’ve tended to rely more on the scouting input, such as the Bam Adebayo selection and their second-round picks.
A: OK, I’ll relent.
(As could be expected in the wake of what was perceived by most as a disappointing finish to the Heat’s season, the mailbag has been flooded with such suggestions.
So I’ll try to address most of the queries with this response.)
Here’s why I’ve mostly stayed away from responding: Practically this entire roster is built on Erik Spoelstra’s concepts, that these players work for this team because they work in Spoelstra’s system.
Take away Spoelstra’s approach (whether you agree or disagree, as is the right of any fan), and you suddenly have a roster that largely would leave you asking how any of this fits.
Beyond that, it is difficult to envision this franchise moving toward anyone who isn’t a Pat Riley acolyte as long as Riley is around.
So, to me, coaching change (not that I am in any way suggesting such) would most logically come at the point when you are ready to blow up the roster and move on from the Riley tenets of Heat Culture and Heat Nation and all the other dogma that has defined the operation for these past 20-plus years.
That would have to come from the Arison level. And that doesn’t seem any time soon.
That is why I’ve steered from such speculation, for the same reasons why I don’t address questions of the Heat trading for James Harden, Steph Curry or Anthony Davis.
I just don’t see the point or need.
Put it this way, if the Raptors were run by Riley/Arisons and not by a hockey-based business model, I believe Dwane Casey would still be coach in Toronto.
Q: Ira, the Miami Heat have publicly stated they want Wayne Ellington to return.
I have always wondered why Wayne Ellington didn’t start (he could blow a game open in the first quarter) and why not have and play two or three more Wayne Ellington types on the team.
The way the game is played, it seems like that might have made the game easier for Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside this season. — Stuart.
A: Mostly because of the team’s commitment to the defensive end, as evidenced by the way Wayne got picked apart on pin-downs during the series against the 76ers.
In a perfect world, you would want a 3-point shooter who also could defend.
But there are only so many Klay Thompsons available.
As for starting Ellington, poor starts were rarely an issue for the Heat.
I will, however, agree that you need 3-point shooters who come with built-in respect, that remain the focus of the defense, such as Ellington.
For all the streakiness of Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson or even, now, Justise Winslow, it’s not as if defenses are fearing such shots to the degree or altering their defense.
As it is, finding time for Wayne could become an issue with the return of Dion Waiters.
A: Not necessary, because for as much as LeBron and the Cavaliers still have in the tank, the ultimate target team in the East could become the Celtics, with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and the oodles of draft picks they still possess.
That figures to stand as the ultimate Eastern riddle for years to come.
A: Two responses here: First, there is no “core.”
You only have a core when you have the featured talent that you can build around.
With the fall of Hassan Whiteside, the Heat do not have a leading man.
Think of it as a solar system needing a sun to gravitate around.
Right now, just about everything remains out of alignment in the Heat’s universe.
As for needing a star to begin to build around, that only is the case in free agency, which the Heat will not be part of, lacking anything in the way of salary-cap space.
Because they will have to operate on the trade market, it is not a matter of enticing a newcomer with what is in place.
The danger there is trading for a star talent near the end of his contract and then having him eventually walk away because of the lack of complementary star talent.
In a perfect world, the Heat would trade for a leading man this summer, then get back in the space race in the 2019 or ’20 offseason and use the previously acquired star talent.
I wasn’t much for astronomy, but I hope you get the gist.
A: No, there aren’t.
So it could be a case of having to sit Tyler Johnson and accept the reality of little payoff to that contract, or trading away someone who could fetch value for a scoring wing.
That is why I continue to believe that Goran Dragic could be put in play this offseason, through absolutely no fault of his own.
He still could hold value to a win-now team, a designation that does not apply to the Heat at the moment.
Q: As a fan, I was more intrigued in courting elite free agents every summer than capping out on mediocre players that get bounced in the first round.
Pat Riley preached flexibility for a few years and then ultimately broke the bank for journeymen.
I will never understand that decision. — Kyle.
A: Such are the dangers of living in the moment.
In many cases, that is why teams prefer to have the coach also not be in charge of personnel.
The difference for the Heat last summer was the unusual contract of Tyler Johnson that made working on a year-by-year basis almost impossible.
Now we’ll see which of the Heat’s “tradeable assets” are actually tradeable assets.
A: If there is a Dragic deal, I’m not sure it necessarily will be for a replacement point guard.
With Tyler Johnson so undersized, the Heat likely will revisit playing him at point guard.
Plus, with so many facilitators — including James Johnson, Justise Winslow and Dion Waiters (or even Dwyane Wade) — we potentially could see Josh Richardson open alongside Waiters at point guard.
Cap relief and draft-pick replenishment could be the ultimate end game with Dragic, if there is such a move.
Q: Jordan Mickey filled out Erik Spoelstra’s small-center approach so well.
Also, signing Derrick Jones Jr. to fill out the roster would still leave one or two spots open to ease with the tax.
The train has officially left the AmericanAirlines Arena station. — Skip, Tampa.
A: And that train will only be picking up steam, with teams allowed to trade once their seasons are over, with the 76ers, Raptors, Jazz and Pelicans the most recent teams to join that group.
The only teams unable to trade at the moment are on the ones in the conference finals.
It certainly could be possible to bring back Mickey, especially if Udonis Haslem retires.
Nick Collison, who entered the league in Haslem’s rookie class, retired Thursday, so perhaps that will lead Haslem to reflection of his own.
And I agree that making a qualifying offer to Derrick Jones Jr. and perhaps moving him to a standard contract is intriguing.
Then there is the free agency of Wayne Ellington and the luxury-tax implications.
In other words, with so many moving parts, it makes sense for the Heat to maintain roster flexibility at the moment.
I am anticipating a robust personnel offseason for the Heat, even in the void of cap space.
Q: Ira, “upside” is talk of the future.
The current Celtics team without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward is not significantly better than the Heat team.
But, clearly, the coaching staff is. Spoelstra needs to do some major soul searching on his schemes and rotations instead of using Hassan Whiteside as the scapegoat. — Marc, Grand Prairie, Texas.
A: First, nothing in Erik Spoelstra’s postseason comments made Hassan a scapegoat.
To your greater point, while I disagree about your assessment of Boston’s current talent level (when factoring in Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart),
I can guarantee you that Erik routinely goes through soul searching and introspection at the end of every season.
I can’t remember the last time he didn’t return with a revised approach.
But first he has to know what his roster will be.
A: That simply won’t happen, which is why if Dwyane returns, I suspect that decision will come later rather than sooner.
The Heat are in no position to deny Dwyane playing time, and Dwyane assuredly would not return in the type of role that Udonis Haslem filled this past season.
So either the backcourt will be thinned, or an era will end.
Any other approach would come off as offensive to an icon.
And Dwyane would never return if the approach is the one suggested in the question above.
He’s already been there, suffered through that.
A: Agreed. Even this season, the Heat rounded out many lineups with stoppers as opposed to scorers.
I believe that is what made the Kelly Olynyk experiment so refreshing.
Q: Hi, Ira.
With a bunch of East teams (namely Toronto, Washington, Milwaukee) being continued underachievers, I think it makes a bunch of sense if you throw Miami in the mix and all four do a bit of swap-and-sell in some way.
You know the line, “One man’s trash is another’s treasure.”
Each team could get rid of an unfavorable deal in exchange for another, or, in Toronto’s case, just blow it up because they’re never beating LeBron James as is.
I think some of the unfavorable deals on other teams like Serge Ibaka, Matthew Dellavedova, Jonas Valanciunas could fit well on Miami.
Same for Hassan Whiteside, where another coach might be able to get him to go.
Daniel, Sydney, Australia.
A: Your logic is sound, but I believe much of this could be put on hold for a single reason: We’re still not sure, and likely won’t be sure, of where LeBron James is going until after the playoffs, and likely even longer than that.
If he remains in Cleveland, then your logic is sound.
However, if he moves on to a Western Conference team while seeking a new challenge, then teams might not be as likely to overhaul until they see what the challenge of the Gordon Hayward-infused Celtics will be like.
Your premise, though, is sound.
With so much disappointment around the Eastern Conference and with so few salary-cap dollars available around the league in free agency, this could prove to be the ultimate trade market this summer.
And while I can’t be as certain with other teams, I believe the Heat would appreciate nothing more than the opportunity to wheel and deal.
Q: I’m sorry, but I am not for trading away these players yet.
I think this team is very capable and a healthy Dion Waiters makes a huge difference.
We need a superstar, I agree.
But we need to give these players a chance to find that superstar.
I believe a superstar is currently on the roster.
I still remember the Hassan Whiteside from game one this year.
Even though we lost that game, Hassan was a beast and I do believe that injury really changed his season.
Let’s fix the problems from within and move forward to see what the next couple of years can bring. — John.
A: But you do that only if you believe there is a superstar-in-wait on your roster.
Two teams already have given up on Dion Waiters, with that also being the case with Hassan Whiteside.
Even more have given up on James Johnson.
Rarely do pass-around players emerge to that level, unless you believe Chauncey Billups falls into that category.
So your premise only holds up if you believe Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo or Tyler Johnson have such upside.
If you do, then you certainly must drink only from glasses half full.
I believe Pat Riley and his staff have to take a less intoxicated view.
Q: I really do not see that this Boston team minus Kyrie Irving is all that different than the current Heat team.
This Boston and Philly series is really exposing our coaching staff, especially Erik Spoelstra. — Gio, Miami.
A: Al Horford would be the best player on the current Heat roster, particularly the way he has played lately.
Jayon Tatum has more upside than any of the Heat’s young players, with arguments able to be made about Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier.
And Marcus Smart might fit the Heat mold more than some of the Heat’s current players.
So I respectfully disagree regarding your sentiment about Boston’s roster.
A: Pride. And if it doesn’t come from there, then you’ve made more than a financial mistake.
I don’t believe that either has regressed due to their contracts or financial motivation.
But that becomes the problem with any extended contract, that the growth — physically, emotionally, developmentally — ceases and you are left with a depreciating asset.
I’m not sure the Heat are there yet with either.
At least they hope not.
A: The situation is the problem.
Yes, there are very real questions with Hassan that have to be sorted out.
But I am not willing to go as far to consider that it was Whiteside, alone, who created what has come off as toxic.
If you win or lose as a team, you also should solve problems as a team. So far, crickets.
Q: You suggest that the Heat doesn’t have a potential star player, that anyone on this roster is expendable, but I don’t agree.
Josh Richardson’s age-24 season compares favorably to Jimmy Butler’s.
Josh showed that he can score from all three levels at different points this season, and we all know he’s a terrific defender.
Josh did his damage with a crowded wing rotation, as well.
If given the opportunity, perhaps he would’ve been even more impressive statistically.
I remember Justise’s first season, when people were comparing him to Kawhi Leonard and Jimmy Butler.
Today, the guy’s still only 21, and he has had just two years of growth in the NBA.
Draymond Green, a favorite Winslow comparison these days, didn’t have his first productive season until he was 24. Winslow, at this age, is better than Draymond was at the same age.
Yet, people seem to think Justise has no value.
The fact that he improved his outside shooting shows that he has the drive and self-awareness to improve his weaknesses.
He can still defend, rebound, and distribute, and he has plenty of time to improve in those areas, as well.
His biggest limitation is an apparent lack of athleticism, but James Harden was knocked for the same reason at one point.
The thing is, if these young players aren’t given the chance to blossom into stardom, they’ll only ever be role players.
Josh admitted that he deferred to D-Wade, for instance, instead of being aggressive toward the end of the season.
I’d like to point out that Harden got an opportunity to blossom with more playing time and a chance to lead a team (instead of playing third or fourth fiddle), Kawhi Leonard got an opportunity to blossom on a team that had Tim Duncan with one foot out of the door, and so on.
Let these young guys have a chance to show what they can contribute, as your lead players, before giving them away as mere trade sweeteners.
Development is real, and both of the Heat’s young wings still have plenty of time to develop.
Be patient, and maybe you’ll have two stars, without having to give anything up. — Matt, Boynton Beach.
A: First, it is refreshing to receive this type of cogent, well-constructed analysis.
And I agree that while upside is difficult to project, steady improvement delivers hope.
I’m not sure I’m ready to go to Draymond, Harden, Kawhi with some of your comparisons.
And even those players all needed as-good or better players to succeed.
So even if what you see as possible is possible, there still is the need for more on the roster.
A: Which is why you’re hearing plenty of Whiteside chatter, as well.
It’s not any single contract.
Every team seemingly has a contract that they have to work around.
The concern (I’m not sure that “problem” isn’t too harsh a term) for the Heat is that it not only is the $25.4 million due next season to Hassan or the $19.2 million due to Tyler, it’s also owing $14.7 million next season to James Johnson and $18 million to Goran Dragic.
Even having two such contracts could be manageable.
Having four is what makes it a talking point.
A: He did. And always has played as hard as needed. But he also knew he had Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade alongside and never felt as compelled then as he is now to carry a team.
In retrospect, you could argue that a Big Two might have been better off than a Big Three (as he has had these past two games with Kevin Love).
But the East was never as weak during LeBron’s Heat days as it is now.
What the Pacers and Celtics offered the Heat was far more challenging than what the Raptors are offering in this round and what the depleted Celtics likely will offer in the next.
In many ways, this is right time, right place for all-the-time LeBron (and please check out the SNL skit on the rest of the Cavaliers players, to put it all into needed perspective).
A: Totally agree. But it also comes down to how attractive the Heat’s assets are perceived.
What makes it more difficult this time of year, though, is the lack of a first-round draft pick to put into play.
It also depends on what salary-cap year the trades come.
For example, Tyler Johnson goes out at a far lower price before June 30.
But after July 1, the Heat would have a larger salary to put into play, perhaps for another team’s overpriced player.
Once you get down to the NBA’s final four, the conference finals, that’s when I believe the trade discussions head into overdrive.
Q: Disagree or your “backburner” comment on Justise Winslow’s extension deadline.
It should be front and center, if for no other reason than it enhances his trade value. — Skip, Tampa
A: Disagree, respectfully.
If I was a trade partner, I would rather have the ability to set the terms of an extension on my own, rather than deal for a player with an extension already in hand (with cap limitations then also in place).
I don’t see the Heat moving with any haste, and still believe the most likely outcome is allowing Justise to become a restricted free agent next summer, when the Heat will have more of a growth sample than just the final weeks of this past season and the playoff series against the 76ers.
A: No, because no matter how you perceive what Spoelstra did this season, the decision to remain as coach should, of course, remain his.
And if he is not ready to move upstairs — or if the Heat do not have a place for him in the front office — then you don’t create moves just to bring back a respected former assistant coach.
After what happened in Memphis, it probably is best for Fizdale to instead spread his wings beyond the cocoon of the Heat, put his own stamp on his coaching career, one not polluted by the culture of the Grizzlies.
Q: We have been conducting free-agent visits and signings to try and capture some face from the LeBron James departure from four summers ago.
It’s painfully obvious the Hassan Whiteside signing was a reach and ignoring the draft (not dumping salaries and collecting picks) a huge mistake.
It’s time to have an intervention for Pat Riley. — Marcus.
A: It’s always interesting how Pat Riley’s postseason wrap-ups tend to produce a word of the hour, with this time the result being his suggestion of an “intervention” between Erik Spoelstra and Hassan Whiteside.
But I believe it is more.
I believe what needs to happen — and something that likely happens, anyway — is something closer to an arbitration.
By that, I mean that the sum total of conciliation for the Heat is not merely a factor of getting Spoelstra and Whiteside on the same page.
That is overstated for this reason: the coach is charged to make the final decisions, so it can never be a 50-50 partnership with the player (unless, of course, the player is LeBron James — then it is 80-20 the other way — but I digress).
What this has to be is getting everyone from the coaching and management side together and decide where this is going — next season, the next three seasons, the next five seasons — and then go from there.
This is a lot bigger than what to do with Hassan.
This also is someone stepping up to take the long view, aware that Riley so prefers to live in the moment.
Q: Hello, Ira.
Watching the success of the Rockets the last few seasons and just wonder why the Heat don’t try use Hassan Whiteside similar to how the Rockets utilize Clint Capella’s skill set around the basket. — Mike, Dallas.
A: For the same reason they don’t use Hassan the same way the Jazz utilize Rudy Gobert — because that would have to include a buy-in from Hassan.
In both those cases, there is little to nothing scripted for the big men. Simply run hard, screen hard, cut hard and attack the glass.
I spoke to a scout Thursday who told me the Jazz basically just call a single after-timeout play a game for Gobert, but that is essentially the limit of their play calling for their big man.
Basically, post-driven big men get their points these days through hustle, an avenue always open to Hassan.
A: Not going to lie, that is among the first things that I thought about after seeing Phoenix sign Slovenian national-team coach Igor Kokoskov, the current Jazz assistant.
But for as much as the Suns might embrace such a reunion from an emotional standpoint, I’m not sure that a 31-year-old point guard is in the franchise’s best interests.
And yet, if the Heat can regain their unprotected 2021 first-round pick dealt for Dragic, it would almost seem like a three-year rental of Dragic represented enough service time for the No. 16 pick the Heat are forwarding to the Suns in this year’s draft.
Perhaps the Suns might be more prone to consider such a deal if they wind up with Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic as the result of the lottery.
A: I think you are spot on to the degree that not only do I believe it will be difficult for the Heat to move further up the standings next season, but I’m not sold that they even can make it back to the No. 6 seed.
We know that the Celtics are 76ers are on the rise, both with major opportunities for further upgrades.
Toronto and Indiana are positioned to at least contend for playoff homecourt.
And as long as LeBron James is around, the Cavaliers aren’t going anywhere.
Milwaukee essentially conceded No. 6 to the Heat this season.
Beyond that, the Pistons will have a full season of Blake Griffin, with the Wizards still a viable playoff contender.
Unless it is continued growth from Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow,
I’m just not sure how much internal growth is possible for the Heat.
Erik Spoelstra may again have to try to squeeze water from a stone
Q: We need our own “process” intervention. — George, Opa-locka.
A: By the 76ers’ definition, that is at least a three-year approach, which the Heat are not positioned for, with their unprotected 2021 first-round pick due to the 76ers as the result of the Goran Dragic trade.
So, at best, the Heat could play for the lottery for 2019 and ’20 — which they will not do as long as Pat Riley is around.
No, as shown with the above response, the best could be again working for a second-tier playoff berth and then hoping for the right opening-round matchup, which certainly wasn’t the case this season.
In retrospect, the Celtics or even Raptors would have been better starting points.
A: I might be proven wrong if Whiteside can be re-established this coming season, but at the moment I see very little chance he would opt out of his $27 million for 2019-20.
Similarly, I’m not sure that Dragic, who will be 32 when he has to decide on his 2019-20 option next spring, will be so fast to opt out of his $19.2 million for that season.
(And I’m even more sure that Tyler Johnson will not be invoking his opt out for his $19.2 million in 2019-20).
So, yes, the road to cap space a year from now could be as simple as those three dominoes falling. Only those dominoes aren’t likely to be falling.
That is why Heat cap space appears to be a dream deferred.
Q: Ira, Pat Riley saying he needs to intervene between Erik Spoelstra and Hassan Whiteside is a vote of confidence to a fan like me who has been saying for the longest time that there is a problem between these two and has never received an answer.
There is something not right at all between these two and it is time to stop sweeping it under the rug and let the truth be told. — Masoud, Tucson, Ariz.
Q: When Pat Riley had those piercing comments in what we know now as LeBron James’ last season with us, I thought he was wrong.
I immediately thought that those comments could do nothing but wedge a wider gap between LeBron and our organization.
I had that same feeling hearing Pat Riley speak about Hassan Whiteside.
I think coming out and telling the world that Hassan was not mentally ready for the playoffs was wrong.
It’s one thing to say that a player needs to improve his game, it’s another to talk about his mental state to the world.
Especially when it was clear this season that half of that blame should be shouldered by Erik Spoelstra.
We all respect Pat, it seems to me that he is the one that needs to change. More than Hassan has to change. — Kenny, Pembroke Pines.
Q: Erik Spoelstra is not going anywhere.
But it doesn’t sound like Pat Riley sure gave Erik Spoelstra a ringing endorsement when it came to his handling of Hassan Whiteside this season.
And with Spoelstra’s ringing endorsement of Kelly Olynyk the other day, a realist would say, I don’t see how the Whiteside-Spoelstra relationship improves. Hope I am wrong. — Stuart.
A: Of all the takeaways from Monday’s session with Pat Riley at AmericanAirlines Arena, the comments about the need for an intervention between Erik Spoelstra and Hassan Whiteside was a bit surprising for a team known for keeping disagreements in house.
But this time Riley said that, yes, something was wrong in the Spoelstra-Whiteside relationship, without assessing blame.
Even that was surprising, that there wasn’t a clear vote of confidence for Spoelstra’s handling of the situation.
If this wasn’t the Heat, if this wasn’t Riley, if this wasn’t Spoelstra, you’d almost wonder whether an ultimatum was being launched.
And yet, unless a resolution also is made public, then the Heat (provided Whiteside still is with the team) will go into next season with an issue that not only played out during the playoffs, but one that Pat Riley also acknowledged is quite real.
The “intervention” moment ranks up there among Riley’s postseason comments with “emojis” and “hidden agendas” with LeBron James during Riley’s wrap-up at the end of the 2014 season.
Q: Because Pat Riley made a mistake with Michael Beasley it shouldn’t scare us away from draft picks.
Draft picks got us Dwayne Wade.
Pat Riley needs to stop saying that. We can’t keep going to the G League and begging for scraps.
This is a game of talent, and picks get you talent if you do your homework. — T.M.
A: I would put anyone and everyone in play.
This roster is not going to deliver a championship, and the lack of salary-cap space and the lack of draft flexibility does not help.
I’m not saying to blow it all up.
I’m just saying that there are no definitive keepers.
At this stage, there is no downside to putting anyone and everyone into play — if there ever becomes an avenue to star talent.
Q: As a fan, I was more intrigued in courting elite free agents every summer than capping out on mediocre players that get bounced in the first round.
Pat Riley preached flexibility for a few years and then ultimately broke the bank for journeymen.
I will never understand that decision — Kyle.
A: This will not be the summer for such assessments about Riley or the Heat’s allure, because the Heat are so far above the salary cap that there isn’t even an ability to make a pitch.
With the courtship of Durant, Hassan Whiteside was willing to take less to open the needed space.
With Gordon Hayward, the Heat had the ability to either seek salary sacrifice or trade off assets to make the math work.
But this time around, the Heat don’t even have enough cap space for the opening ante, let alone to get involved in the bidding.
Yes, sign-and-trades could be possible, but that would involve the Heat having assets that teams covet.
I’m not sure that Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, James Johnson or Dion Waiters currently stand as coveted.
Q: Well, at least we don’t have the problems and excuses that the OKC Thunder have. — Dave, Reading, Pa.
A: Actually, there will be plenty of reassessing in the wake of the first round of the playoffs, be it the Thunder, the Wizards, the Trail Blazers, the Spurs, the Timberwolves and perhaps even the Cavaliers.
That could make this a particularly intriguing offseason when it comes to trades.
Remember, once a team is eliminated from the playoffs it is allowed to resume making trades with any partner other than teams still in the playoffs.
Q: It seems like the Jazz are what the Miami Heat want to be. — Trey.
A: With one exception: The Jazz got Donovan Mitchell with their most recent lottery pick (trading into it); the Heat got Justise Winslow and Bam Adebayo with their last two lottery picks, neither a transformational presence.
I could get where you’re going when comparing Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside, Ricky Rubio and Goran Dragic.
But it’s always about the go-to guy.
The one the Jazz have.
The one the Heat lack (although I’m sure Dion Waiters would have something to say about that.
Q: We need a coach that talks actual Xs & Os, basketball strategy and actual plays, not a yoga instructor.
Erik Spoelstra is in the huddle singing Kumbaya while on the other side smart coaches are telling guys what’s actually happening and what needs to get done. — Lex.
A: Never confuse media sessions such as Friday’s for what transpires in huddles, during practices or in the locker room.
Friday was about attempting to neatly put a ribbon on a season that ended with too many knots to be so easy untwined.
There were real problems and real issues this season — and certainly the loss of some of the fire that so inspired the end of 2016-17.
That’s what made the end of the season so unsatisfying, that even with a playoff berth it ended less fulfilling than the 2017 lottery finish.
A: Oh, they’ll try, but I still don’t think they will go into the luxury tax with a roster not perceived as a title contender.
There have been plenty of examples of Heat Culture players left to look for work elsewhere, including Willie Reed and Luke Babbitt just a season ago, Mike Miller set free at luxury-tax time, and then Mario Chalmers and Chris Andersen traded (or even Caron Butler and Lamar Odom before that).
That also is how business should be conducted, in what remains a results-oriented business.
A: I have seen these types of trades in several forms, the type that essentially accept the notion of trading Hassan for cap space and little else of substance.
Another involving the Suns was floated by a blog site that has the deal as Hassan for Jared Dudley, essentially straight up. Chandler and Dudley each have one season left on their contracts, Chandler at $13.6 million for 2018-19, Dudley at $9.5 million.
Each of the deals could open the needed room under the luxury tax to allow the Heat to re-sign Wayne Ellington. But here’s the rub: Even if the Heat are able to get off Whiteside’s $27 million for 2019-20, the Heat still would have at least $98 million in cap commitments (factoring in the player options for Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson and Bam Adebayo) and that’s not even including Ellington or possible extension money for Justise Winslow.
In other words, by trading the final two seasons of Whiteside’s contract for players entering the final seasons on their deals . . . it still would not open much in the way of cap space in 2019, when the cap is projected in the $108 million range. So what you would be doing in such scenarios would be trading Whiteside . . . for nothing.
Q: I think that Hassan Whiteside will be a better player for a coach who is more willing to use him for the skills that he has, which I think would have been much more useful in the series with the 76ers than his minutes allowed. — Paul, Fort Lauderdale.
A: Fair and balanced, which I believe is the motto in this space.
A: Because Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic ultimately proved overstated (think about Dragic over Simmons for that replacement All-Star berth).
And that is the concern going forward, with an argument that as many as 10 teams in the conference could be able to make that claim next season, if the Heat stand relatively pat, when it comes to the two best players on the court for opening tips.
Certainly Indiana has moved into that position with Victor Oladipo and Myles Turner, with Detroit also possibly to be there with Blake Griffin and a healthy Reggie Jackson.
And this past season you could have made such an argument in Charlotte, with Kemba Walker and a rejuvenated Dwight Howard.
Q: I have a feeling that Hassan Whiteside is going to take the title for being the subject of the most “Ask Ira” questions ever this summer, replacing those about Michael Beasley — Tony, Lamar, Colo.
A: Not so sure about that, because I doubt there would be a Whiteside reunion if dealt, but I can never rule out one more Beasley go-round.
Ultimately, Michael is the gift that keeps on giving. At this stage, I practically consider him a co-author.
A:The way the Whiteside situation played out should have happened in only one circumstance — that the Heat decided that the Hassan Whiteside experience is doomed to failure and there is no reason left to try to resurrect it, that they will deal with the salary-cap consequences and move on.
But if that is not the case, then you cannot allow it to deteriorate the way it did. Pat Riley cannot allow it to deteriorate.
Nick Arison cannot allow it to deteriorate.
Micky Arison cannot allow it to deteriorate. Erik Spoelstra has every right to place demands and carry expectations.
But somewhere there has to be a bigger-picture overview, someone to step in and negotiate a truce.
Even if you don’t believe that Hassan Whiteside is an All-Star, even you believe he is average for his position, even if you believe he is a marginal starter, you still have to find a way to make him more than a 10-minute, two-point player.
Even with the most incorrigible player (if that, indeed, is what is at play here), you have to find a way to make it work.
In the end, the situation turned into an embarrassment for the Heat, with blame on many sides.
Heat culture took a step backward with this one.
A: Actually, while it might make sense for the Heat (depending on where they truly stand on the issue), it assuredly would not for Hassan, with more than $50 million over two seasons remaining on his contract.
Yes, you can agree to a buyout at any time, but there still would be a significant cap hit.
If cap savings is the goal, then trading him into a team’s cap space would be the more likely avenue, if there were to be a taker.
Q: We need changes because the Heat are not in a good spot right now. — Frances, Philippines.
A: The same things I would want to see if the Heat were to force a Game 6, and the same things I would have wanted to see in every game this series: A forceful and impactful Hassan Whiteside, putting every last breath of energy into his effort, no matter the minutes; James Johnson playing with defined purpose, making each move productive and eliminating the unnecessary ballhandling; Tyler Johnson in attack mode on both ends, up and into it on defense, at the rim on offense; Josh Richardson never deferring, but rather claiming his stake as a bona fide NBA scorer; Justise Winslow maintaining the newfound fury; Wayne Ellington shaking free more often; and Kelly Olynyk and Goran Dragic to keep on doing what they’re doing.
Put all of that together and there won’t be a need to call on Dwyane Wade as savior.
And yet there also is a caveat: all of that still might not be enough to beat the more talented 76ers.
A: I’ve taken a lot of questions about the starting lineup, but the reality is that the Heat have led at halftime in each of the first four games.
This has nothing to do with the starting lineup.
This is about finally finishing. And part of that is conserving Wade’s energy, at 36, so that he has enough in the tank to finish, if needed.
A: I do not, perhaps other than the added emotion Dion would have carried in against his hometown team.
Dwyane Wade has essentially provided the type of heroics that Dion otherwise would have been asked to offer.
The exception might have been, amid Tyler Johnson’s struggles, that the Heat might have been able to get more out of shooting guard at the outset of games.
A: After reviewing the play-by-play, your numbers and timing are mostly spot on.
And, yes, the 76ers outscored the Heat 16-8 in the paint in the fourth quarter of Game 4, with the scoring otherwise even at 11-11.
But this is what it comes down to: The Heat — for whatever reason — seemingly do not believe that Hassan Whiteside puts them at a position of strength. This season never was about a championship (sorry), it was about taking strides forward.
And yet for weeks, if not longer, it’s as if the Heat have been backpedaling from Hassan.
To the Heat, it’s as if he is just one of nine primary rotation players, nothing more.
As this series plays out, it’s as if the Heat are less defined than when they started this season or ended last season.
That is not where you want to be as April turns to May.
Q: All I keep seeing and reading from Heat players and others is that they have to do things better and differently.
Honestly, it’s time to give Philadelphia credit. — Chris, Tampa.
A: Oh, I not only believe that, I believe there has been too much of that.
Ben Simmons is a nice young player, but he is not Magic Johnson, at least not yet.
Yet, it’s as if the Heat have afforded him such respect.
It has been similar with Joel Embiid, instead of going at him and challenging and perhaps turning the foul trouble in the other direction (which the Heat did during the regular season).
This needs to be more like the Stanley Cup playoffs — save the handshakes for when it is over.
A: I think it is an encouraging turn, but one that also should not be overstated.
At this point, Justise has shown he can be a quality sixth man. Game 4 hardly was a breakout performance.
Q: Justise Winslow has gotten better handling the rock for us. James Johnson and Kelly Olynyk have both been better here offensively than previous stops.
The problem is there’s too many redundant players on the roster. — Lim.
A: The problem is there are too many good-but-not-great players on this roster.
This would be the perfect roster to airlift in a star into — as Pat Riley tried with Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward.
Goran Dragic would be perfect as a No. 2 and Hassan Whiteside as a No. 3.
The problem is that this is a roster loaded with fourth and fifth men, players who can help but not necessarily dominate, nothing like Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons.
In baseball parlance, the Heat’s pitching staff is loaded with No. 3 and No. 4 starters, but no one you would want to throw out there more than once in a playoff series.
And the problem is there isn’t the cap space or trade enticement to land such a star.
Of all the front-office riddles Pat Riley has faced, this might be the most challenging.
A: Erik Spoelstra has made such lineup changes before when faced with playoff elimination, be it Mario Chalmers for Mike Bibby or Ray Allen for Chalmers, so there might be something to this.
It is clear that Tyler is not the same player because of that bandaged left thumb.
He started but played 12:54 in Game 4 Saturday.
On one hand, I can appreciate attempting to showcase Tyler in case a trade could be worked out to offload his expanding salary.
On the other hand, I think you offer a legitimate suggestion, one I would strongly consider if in Erik Spoelstra’s shoes.
A: Two factors are in play here. Foremost, Dwyane Wade.
Tyler’s minutes, particularly late in games, have been impacted more by Wade’s return to the roster than any other player.
Dwyane is averaging 23:30 in this series, Tyler 16:23. And that is after Tyler last season stood among the NBA leaders in fourth-quarter minutes.
But Tyler’s size also is a factor.
Even against J.J. Redick, he comes up short, let alone when the 76ers are running with the likes of Ben Simmons, Marco Belinelli and Robert Covington in their perimeter rotation.
It is a bit surprising that as the Heat’s starting shooting guard that Tyler has attempted only 14 shots through three games.
Wade, by contrast, has attempted 33, second on the team only to Goran Dragic’s 40.
This could be a case where the short-term benefit of Wade has blunted the long-term future of Johnson, as well as muted potential trade value.
Q: I heard you on the radio suggesting the Heat need to hire an additional coach to specifically focus on Hassan Whiteside.
I thought already having Alonzo Mourning, Juwan Howard and Udonis Haslem in his ear would be enough.
After Game 3’s performance, maybe a sports psychologist would be money better spent. — David, Staten Island.
A: First, I went out of my way today to make sure the first question wasn’t about Hassan, simply because I didn’t want this space to turn into “Ask Ira About Hassan Whiteside.”
But the point I was making on radio is that there has to be someone who gets through and changes what we’ve seen from Hassan in these moments of truth.
For all the pep talks from Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, for all the coaching from Juwan Howard and instruction from Alonzo Mourning, when it turns into postgame scenes like Thursday night, it shows there is an ongoing disconnect.
The Heat needs there to be a connect.
Q: Turn down Whiteside’s NBA 2K rating! He’s gonna try to get it back up. — Kyle.
A: Finally, an impactful and reasonable suggestion.
A: And that’s the thing, Embiid closed Game 3 with four fouls just like Whiteside.
But the Heat never pushed to get a fifth or sixth foul on Embiid, even while he remained in the game while in foul trouble.
So that means one of two things: 1. The Heat do not believe Whiteside, in this current state (whatever the state may be) has the ability to create foul trouble for Embiid. 2. Or the Heat believe Whiteside is a liability on the court compared to what Kelly Olynyk or Bam Adebayo had to offer.
From the start, I never could envision a path to victory in this series without a dominant contribution from Hassan.
Now time is running out, which also might be the case with Hassan’s confidence.
A: This entire tough-guy thing has become way overstated.
This isn’t the late ’90s and the NBA won’t allow the game to regress to that point.
I was shocked that Anderson-Wade didn’t result in something more than technical fouls and would assume that the league will make sure Game 4 is not nearly as edgy as Game 3.
No, this comes down to substance and execution, which the 76ers put to use when needed most in Thursday’s fourth quarter.
This isn’t, with all due respect, about Haslem.
It’s about the Heat’s rotation players being better — a lot better — than they were in Game 3.
Q: The Heat have to work so much harder to beat the 76ers than the 76ers have to to beat the Heat.
It seemed like Miami played so well but then you look at the score and Philadelphia is still up.
The difference in this series is the firepower that the Heat don’t have. — Mialles, Boston.
And seemingly the entire premise of this Heat roster and season is that our less-talented roster will outwork your roster.
And while that can work against lesser teams during the regular season, it is an entirely different story in a best-of-seven series against a No. 3 seed in the playoffs.
There is not a general manager in the league who wouldn’t take the 76ers’ roster over the Heat’s (a fact Heat management would never publicly acknowledge but assuredly accepts).
A: That has been an ongoing issue for the Heat, when Hassan Whiteside is out and Kelly Olynyk is in, that opposing teams immediately move into attack mode.
It is among the reasons, I believe, why Bam Adebayo has become more of a factor in this series than anticipated.
The problem for the Heat is that they feature a lineup, beyond Whiteside, that is otherwise undersized, when counting James Johnson at power forward, Josh Richardson at small forward and Tyler Johnson at shooting guard.
This is a roster that desperately needs a shot blocker to clean up things in the middle.
The problem is that when Whiteside is in the game but defending Dario Saric on the perimeter, you still don’t have him in the middle.
And when a team is storming back by shooting 3-pointers, a big man can only do so much.
This is where the new timeout rules come into play, essentially having to make offense-or-defense decisions.
A: Yes. They have overachieved if you believe that Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic are average players at their positions, and if you believe that James Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson are mid-tier supporting players.
They have underachieved if you believe that Whiteside is a leading man, Dragic an All-Star and Winslow, Richardson and Bam Adebayo significant draft acquisitions.
It would be interesting to know how Pat Riley and Mickey Arison truly feel about this roster.
Because if they believe it is contention worthy, then they probably would side on the side of having underachieved — to this stage.
A: Sometimes player lack certain skills, especially on the next level.
The force that Justise displayed at Duke hasn’t been present to the same degree in the NBA.
He simply might not be up to such play on this level.
Whether it’s a pull-up or a teardrop, it might be time to consider an alternate approach.
Q: Everyone is always down on Hassan Whiteside, and rightfully so when he doesn’t rise to the occasion.
He played great against the Raptors, because they play big mostly and he didn’t have to run through picks chasing shooters.
That’s hard for him to do against the Sixers.
Be blind if you want.
If Joel Embiid plays Thursday night, all that Hassan talk will change.
There is no way Kelly Olynyk or Bam Adebayo can handle him in the post.
Hassan had a great game the final regular-season game and he was focused until he had to sit out due to injury.
Embiid playing is exactly what we need. Embiid likes to shoot threes and he fouls a lot against Hassan.
Stay tuned. — Sippy.
A: That is the last thing I would want to do, is increase Dwyane minutes and burn some of them during the early stages.
Both teams have built big early leads in this series only to see them disappear.
Sitting at courtside, you could see the fatigue set in at times for Dwyane.
No, Wade as finisher is all that matters.
Heck, I’d give him the OK to show up to the arena at halftime.
A: Um, you’re talking to a guy who’s not sure if the Heat are going to win Thursday.
And even if that happens, not sure it doesn’t then go back to Philadelphia at 2-2.
Let’s take this one game at a time.
A: Which is all any playoff series is about, particularly now, with a two-day break before Game 3 on Thursday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
There are so many ways to look at Monday.
Yes, the Heat and Spoelstra adjusted.
Yes, from the players who mattered, there was a heightened intensity.
Yes, the Heat did better contesting the 76ers’ 3-pointers.
But you can’t expect this Dwyane Wade every night at this stage.
And the 76ers are going to get back to making 3-pointers, because that is what they do and who they are.
Plus, there is the Joel Embiid factor, which also will change the equation.
The 76ers have more talent in this series.
But the Heat have a coach who, mostly, gets every last ounce out of his roster.
And, as it is, it’s not as if the Heat have gotten anything out of Hassan Whiteside to this stage.
So expect more twists and turns and at least six games, and possibly more.
Q: If the Heat are to contend in the future, it likely won’t be with Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside, both of whom have likely hit their respective ceilings as players.
It will be with Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, or whatever young players are allowed to step up, and who take the opportunity to step up, in coming seasons. — Matt, Boynton Beach.
Q: Joel Embiid would slow down the 76ers’ pace, so him being out is a bigger disadvantage for the Heat. — Cyrus.
A: Rubbish. When an All-Star is out it becomes a situation where you have to take advantage.
And do not overstate the change in style.
When Embiid returns the 76ers still are going to load up on 3-pointers, including Embiid.
He already has proven to be a quick study in his brief NBA tenure. No, this is when you have to take advantage.
And Embiid is coming back, because the 76ers need him back, because Philadelphia has greater goals than the first round and appreciate how important he remains to those hopes.
But it does make sense to take two more days off, since Game 3 is not until Thursday.
A: First, and this goes for all those who post to this space: Let’s stop confusing highest-paid with most-talented.
Hassan is not the Heat’s most talented player.
What he is, at least what he has been cast by the Heat as being, is a force of nature.
The problem is that mostly has been the exception lately.
But even teammates acknowledge that it is difficult to develop rhythm without consistent minutes.
When the Heat sat down on July 1, 2016 and decided it was wise to commit $98 million over four years, there also should have been a blueprint of motivation, whether it was with Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra, Nick Arison, Juwan Howard or someone else in the organization, someone who would commit to getting Whiteside where the team needed him to be.
No, Hassan was not particularly energetic or effective Saturday.
But he only played 12:26 — twelve minutes and twenty-six seconds.
Josh Richardson was minus-30 for the game and played 27:21. Tyler Johnson played more.
It would have seemed, that amid the lethargy, someone would have been able to reboot the Heat’s “force of nature” over the course of the game.
Instead, they seemingly quit on him just as it was viewed he quit on them.
This is not where you want to be in mid April.
Q: The Heat had an athletic 6-7 swing-man who reminded them of Ben Simmons so much they had him play the part of Simmons in practice.
However, they left him off the playoff roster, in favor of several players who they knew would not and could not play in this series (take your pick, Luke Babbitt, Udonis Haslem).
Sometimes it seems like roster and playing choices are not being made based on who gives the Heat the best chance to win, but rather based on loyalty (Haslem), or trying to showcase someone with a big contract (Tyler Johnson), I guess to see if they can trade him or to justify the contract.
Derrick Jones Jr. could have made a difference down the stretch in the season and playoffs.
And don’t give me the coaches-know-best argument. There have been plenty of coaches who haven’t known best. — A.R.
A: And, finally, a voice of reason.
And fact it, even with another loss, then it will be the old saw of a series not truly starting until the visiting team wins.
Q: It’s hard to imagine the Heat rising higher with the Celtics, 76ers and Bucks all having very good young cores, likely to remain the top contenders for a while.
Bottom line is that, for now, the Heat have to be content to remain a 44- to 47-win team.
Maybe in a couple of years, when Ben Simmons gets tired of Philly cheese steaks or the Warriors begin to break up, there will be opportunities — unless, of course, another Kyrie Irving story pops up out of the clear blue. — H.S.
A: I’m not sure that “content” ever will be a word associated with the Heat front office, at least not since they were able to get LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to walk through that door in 2010.
But I can’t see a team with limited assets going forward utilizing them just to trade into the latter stages of the first round.
With Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, there still is developing youth.
It might come down to how the Heat view Derrick Jones Jr. and Derrick Walton Jr. going forward.
Plus, the Heat could buy into the second round by having a team draft a player for them and then making the promised payment after July 1, when a new allotment to spend in trades becomes available (all of the Heat’s spending money for the 2017-18 season was utilized on selling off Josh McRoberts’ contract to the Mavericks).
A: I’m not sure that has to be on them.
Yes, Hassan’s minutes have been inconsistent this season.
And, yes, injuries have limited continuity.
But, at some point, the player has to make his own stand, show the type of relentlessness that makes it impossible for him to be removed from the game, sort of what Bam Adebayo showed in the closing stages Wednesday against the Raptors.
Perhaps it’s up to Hassan to dare Erik Spoelstra to take him out because of what would be lost when he is not on the floor.
A: That patience has worn thin and that the Heat have entered a portion of the season where there can’t be patience.
The force again was lacking from Hassan against the Raptors, with the type of shots that spun out because they weren’t attempted with force.
The Heat were desperate for vitality when Adebayo entered for the first time, in the second half, and played with a more aggressive motor the balance of the night.
For Whiteside, it is as simple as play your way into meaningful moments.
He didn’t on Wednesday. That certainly could change by Saturday.
A: Agree 100 percent.
The team that finished last season at 30-11 showed they could produce sustained, highest-level success.
I’m not sure we’ve seen that this season.
The Whiteside factor is huge; he simply was more active and more engaged last season.
Now, there a reasonable debating point between ’17 Waiters and ’18 Wade, simply because Dion was injured at the end of last season.
I would bet that if Vegas posted a line between the ’16-17 Heat and the ’17-18 Heat as to where they stand April to April, that last season’s Heat would be favored, perhaps significantly, even with this season’s team with a better record and a playoff berth.
Q: To my mind, the only way to feel good about this season would be for the Heat to win the first series or at least win at least two games and be competitive in the other games.
Also, with this roster and the contracts they are stuck.
And how the East is improving, the immediate future does not look great. My one hope is that Bam Adebayo can develop and be a major contributor as a starting forward like Serge Ibaka — Joel.
A: What I say is that Dwyane has not shot 50 percent or better in a game since March 8, has shot 10 of 35 in Heat’s last three losses, with eight turnovers and nine assists in those games.
So, yes, the concerns at this stage have to be real.
I know there has been and will be plenty of talk about “playoff Wade,” but also appreciate that in his six playoff games with the Bulls last year, he shot .372 from the field.
What Dwyane can be in the playoffs is exactly what he has been in these past 20 games with the Heat, a player who can produce moments but also a player who can’t be — and shouldn’t be — expected to carry a team over the course of a series.
It is a very fine line that Spoelstra and the Heat have been walking, but there may have to times during the win-or-go-home portion of the schedule when Spoelstra will have to instead turn to Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, perhaps even Rodney McGruder, for relief.
And Wade, Spoelstra and the entire team have to OK with that.
If Dwyane can lead the Heat to at least one playoff win on his own then this reunion will have provided all the dividends needed.
Q: Dear Ira, if the last month was a preview of what we will see in the playoffs, then stick a fork in the Heat.
Doesn’t matter what seed they are and who the opponent is.
Wildly inconsistent play, lack of killer instinct, playing down to lesser opponents, and plenty of nights where the stars don’t show.
Nope, Erik Spoelstra ain’t got enough magic in his wand to make this playoff swing anything but a one and quickly done. Oh well, see ya next year. — Pat, Deerfield Beach.
A: Or they steal one of the first two on the road and everything changes.
Q: I found it hysterical in a pregame interview prior to Monday night’s game, to hear James Johnson say the team was trending in the right direction heading into the playoffs.
(The word “trending” is the newest Spo-ism, and its already tiring.)
The team’s signature wins down the stretch have coming against the ever-dangerous Atlanta Hawks, which must really be a confidence builder.
It’s the Heat obtaining Dwyane Wade at the trade deadline, just to watch Philly pick up Ersan Ilyasova and Marco Belinelli. (Belinelli is a player I really coveted and believe the Heat could’ve added, if not for reacquiring Wade.)
The Heat have slightly better than .500-level talent, and that’s exactly what Erik Spoelstra has gotten out of them.
I don’t think it matters at all who the Heat’s opponent is in the playoffs. I would make them the underdog against all the other seeds. — Matt.
A: You are correct.
And even after Monday’s loss to the Thunder, the talk in the locker room was about “trending in the right direction.”
But the reality is that in their last five games, the Heat have lost to the Nets and Knicks and been obliterated in the fourth quarter by the Thunder.
As Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan said before Monday’s game, it is folly to believe you can simply flip a switch and become something different when the playoff lights turn on.
I do not understand the “trending” comments.
Yes, after defeating the Cavaliers and even Bulls, the Heat appeared to be “trending in the right direction,” but to find the last time the Heat put quality wins together, you have to go back to March 16 and March19 against the Lakers and Nuggets, two teams that both could be lottery teams, and even that is just about a month ago.
A: As stated above, there is precious little evidence.
And with Dwyane Wade hardly trending in the right direction, it’s not as if the Heat can count on their second unit for salvation.
As for your comment about point guards, I fully agree.
Tyler Johnson is not that player and the Heat and much of the league came to a similar belief about Briante Weber.
The Heat at one point this season envisioned Justise Winslow in such a role, but I just don’t see the lateral foot speed.
Q: Celtics, Raptors, 76ers, Cavaliers 4-1 and goodbye. This team irks, — Masoud, Tucson, Ariz.
A: I would go that far, although I’m not sure if you are that far off should the Heat play the Cavaliers or Raptors.
But I believe the Heat can force more competitive series against the injury-ravaged Celtics or neophyte 76ers.
Q: That was a mind-numbing fact you threw out there on the World Cup and Olympic pool.
This team doesn’t have a Top 35 player. Wow, that’s got to smoke Pat Riley a bit. — Skip, Tampa.
A: It also says plenty about what USA Basketball thinks about Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside, that they are not even considered good enough for such an expansive pool for upcoming national teams.
Then again, perhaps it also opens a window into the thinking of Gregg Popovich, who will coach the upcoming national teams.
With the Spurs potentially having to consider trades for a discontent Kawhi Leonard, it does not appear that the man who decides all things Spurs has a particular affection for much on the Heat roster.
Granted, USA Basketball made the selections for the national-team pool, but you have to figure that if Popovich wanted anyone from the Heat in that pool that they would have been included.
Instead, the Heat stood shut out, with the player pool including the likes of Tobias Harris, Myles Turner and Mike Conley Jr.
Then again, Leonard also is in the pool, which could make for a fascinating USA Basketball camp this summer in Las Vegas.
Q: Seeing Tony Fiorentino leave is like saying goodbye to a very fond family member with whom you have wonderful Heat memories and shared Heat experiences, and for many of us, he is someone we’ve grown up with as Heat fans.
His voice is the always pleasant, always upbeat, and always professional voice that has exuded warmth, personality, and familiarity, and given us insights delivered in a personal way that we relate to.
Speaking for myself, he is even more one with the fans today than ever and while I’m sure his successor will do fine, I don’t see the reason for him having to leave a fan base with whom he has become a favorite family member.
It just seems like change for the sake of change, to many of us, Ira, I’m sure. Patrick, Coral Springs.
A: I have received several responses to Sunday’s interview with Tony along these lines and believe this reflects the perspective others have shared.
Q: People put forth several perspectives regarding Hassan Whiteside.
But here is the bottom line: if he played up to his potential then these discussions would never need happen in the first place. — Chadwick.
A: And we saw it again Friday in New York — the lack of force to his game, again settling for floating, push shots instead of playing with power, might, force.
With the knee brace gone, I’m not sure that can be considered a factor anymore.
And he certainly was given ample time to work through the hip injury.
Hassan Whiteside is unique when he is explosive.
Otherwise, he’s just another lengthy big man.
The Heat need Whiteside flexing if they are to have any hope in the postseason.
Q: Ira, do you think Erik Spoelstra would put Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup in the playoffs. — Caleb.
Q: Ira, this loss against the Knicks will come back and haunt them.
Had they won, they would have been two full games ahead of Wizards, with the tiebreaker.
That means they would be guaranteed to be No. 7, at least, and they could have lost the next two games and still been No. 7, which is what they should want.
They had the chance to control their own destiny and blew it. — Mac, Toronto.
A: First, it hardly was a crushing defeat from a playoff standpoint.
If the Heat win one of their final two games — Monday at home against Oklahoma City, Wednesday at home against Toronto — they still are assured of no worse than No. 7.
The irony is that the Raptors could have a say in that, since they have nothing to play for and face the Heat on the final night of the season.
I still believe No. 6 should be the goal, especially with Philadelphia now in control of No. 3.
The Heat can assure themselves No. 6 by winning their last two, no matter what Milwaukee or Washington do.
That Monday game against the Thunder could prove to be a compelling game No. 81 on each team’s schedule.
My gut feeling is a 1-1 Heat finish.
So that would come down to deciding to instead control their positioning to settle in at No. 7.
The Wizards should win their final two, against the nothing-to-gain Celtics and Magic, but, then again, they also should have won Friday against the Hawks.
The Bucks close against the Knicks, Magic and 76ers, who could be playing to solidify No. 3 on closing night.
So, to recap: a 1-1 close would leave the Heat at 44-38; a 2-0 close would leave the Wizards at 44-38; and a 2-1 ending would leave the Bucks at 44-38. And the Heat would get No. 6 in that three-team tiebreaker.
If the Bucks win out, with the Wizards 2-0 and the Heat 1-1, then the Bucks would be No. 6, the Heat No. 7 and Wizards No. 8. Now, if the Heat close 0-2, then all bets are off.
Basically, Friday’s loss simply made the Heat’s closing math far more complex.
A: There is no way the Heat brought Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade and James Johnson back to lose.
You can’t ask good players to play bad.
If you are trying to lose, you look much further down the roster when building that night’s rotations.
No, the Heat were just bad in New York, terrible in fact.
But for those scoring at home, my preferences for the Heat’s first-round opponents of the remaining possibilities would be, in this order: 1. Philadelphia, 2. Boston, 3. Toronto, 4. Cleveland.
Q: We can’t risk injury, but we need to play well against OKC and Toronto. — Sippy.
A: Agree. You don’t want to go into the playoffs on three-game losing streak without a victory in a week and a half.
And, for now, all the Heat have to fall back upon is their recent home success, with only two road victories since Jan. 29.
Now, if there is an ailment that requires rest, that is another story.
Otherwise, best foot forward at home could be significant when it comes to playoff promise.
Q: Miami fans have become sort of like Alabama football fans — unless we’re dominating in the playoffs, the season is a failure.
Given the roster, the elevated competition in the East, and the fact that the kind of success we’ve enjoyed is very rare, I consider our current No. 6 seed to be a success, especially after missing out last year.
I know we have some serious questions about the type of contracts we signed, but I would anticipate some of those being moved to accommodate more star power in the next offseason or two. — David, Boynton Beach.
A: It’s interesting, I’ve been asked during several media appearances whether I consider this season a success — and I’ve hedged every time.
First, merely making the playoffs, by itself, is nothing more than a sign of mediocrity.
In a league of 30 teams, 16 make the postseason.
More do than not. And I’m not sure the Heat’s marginal increase in victories offers an indication of significant improvement.
I would say this: 1. Josh Richardson, Wayne Ellington and Justise Winslow have all gotten better. 2. Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo proved to be quality additions. 3. But James Johnson, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters (because of injury) regressed.
For the most part, Goran Dragic has been his steady self and Tyler Johnson his inconsistent self.
So, no, I don’t believe the Heat are significantly better.
They just didn’t start 11-30 this time, so they didn’t have to finish 30-11.
They are a middle-of-the-road team in a league whether middle-of-the-road teams make the playoffs sometimes and miss the playoff sometimes.
A: I’m glad someone finally figured it out.
Once the Cavaliers acquired the Nets’ unprotected first-round lottery pick for the 2018 draft from Boston, Pat Riley informed his coaching staff to help get the Nets as many victories as possible, apparently sick of a smiling Dan Gilbert on the lottery stage.
As of this posting, that has Cleveland as no better than the No. 7 lottery seed based on Brooklyn’s record.
I’d assume the Heat’s next goal will be to focus on defeating the Knicks so New York can push past the Nets in the lottery race, as well.
A: The No. 7 seed is the hardest to angle for because it is difficult to win just enough for that spot but not win too much for No. 6 (or conversely, lose enough for that spot, but not lose too much for No. 8).
The only decision to be made at this point is to try to win them all or to prioritize elements other than winning, such as health.
The fact that Erik Spoelstra didn’t immediately move to Derrick Walton Jr. or Derrick Jones Jr. on Wednesday night speaks to this not, in the Heat’s case, being a tank-a-thon.
And when it comes to LeBron-phobia, we’ll have a better read on the Cavaliers these next two nights when they face the Wizards and 76ers.
That should let us know whether they will be the definitive No. 3 seed in the East.
A: I’m not necessarily sure that Erik Spoelstra is encouraging shots, but it is not unusual for coaches to allow players to pad stats in situations such as Wednesday in Atlanta.
So more than the shot count for Justise, the fact that he played more than any reserve and more than any player than Josh Richardson tells me that the Heat knew it was the type of moment that could get Justise’s head in a better place.
That said, there also was just one rebound.
But, yes, Spoelstra has done that before with Winslow and even Hassan Whiteside, and he is not alone among coaches who appreciate how a positive stat line can lead to a more positive outlook for a player, no matter the competition.
Q: Usually teams tank when they bench their star players.
The Heat have 15 equally mediocre replaceable parts, so it’s hard for the Heat to tank. — Mark.
A: So here we have a counterpoint to Wednesday’s feel-good moment.
The reality is that you can’t tank against what the Hawks are offering at this stage of the season.
But what Wednesday did was put Rodney McGruder and Bam Adebayo in a better place, in case they are needed in the playoffs.
Still, I do believe the Heat need at least one more dress rehearsal before the playoffs.
I’m not sure you can get that against what’s left of the Knicks or that the Raptors will even field a representative lineup in next Wednesday’s season finale.
So I wonder if Erik Spoelstra uses Monday at home against the Thunder for that moment, since you know that Oklahoma City will be fully engaged.
Q: Ira, don’t spew propaganda for Erik Spoelstra, who always tries to diminish the team profile so he’s not blamed when they do not accomplish much in the playoffs. — O.T.
A: Because the Heat have to list four of their 17 players inactive (with only 13 allowed to be in uniform on game nights).
So with Dion Waiters the team’s only injured player, it means Waiters and two-way players Derrick Jones Jr. and Derrick Walton Jr. plus one more.
That one more had been Jordan Mickey, but after his solid performance filling in last Tuesday for Hassan Whiteside against the Cavaliers, he was elevated in the hierarchy.
I would expected that with a playoff berth now assured that several rotation regulars will get time off, which will have Luke back on the court, possibly as soon as Wednesday in Atlanta.
As it was, he was back on the active roster Tuesday against his former team when the Heat beat the Hawks.
Basketball is all about winning plays.
To make winning plays requires you to be in a position to impact the game on both ends and that requires full sprints up and down the floor, beating your opponent and not the heel-clanking shuffle we see night in and night out.
Go back and watch 39-year-old Robert Parish outrun 20-year-olds all game long.
He was nowhere near your talent level but his motor was relentless.
The good news is that hustle, motor and maximum effort, if you recognize those shortcomings, can be easily fixed.
We don’t care if you play in five-minute stretches and have to come out panting, but during those five minutes, give us everything you’ve got.
Make opponents fear you because they know they can’t outwork you.
Skills matter, yes, and you’ve got a ton of them, but skills without a motor is like looking at a car in showroom but not being able to drive it home.
You claim to be an elite center.
Don’t tell us, show us the effort to match the skills and we, too, can become believers.
Take away any precognition of needing to pace yourself and instead set the pace to maximum effort for every second you’re on the floor. — Kind Regards, Brian, Fort Lauderdale.
A: Selected because there were several similar offerings in the mailbag.
A: Selected because this perspective also has been put forward by several corresponding to this space.
Q: Ira, I think part of Hassan Whiteside’s frustration is not only the minutes but also the way he is utilized.
A big who has an offensive game should not be spending most of his time setting picks at the top of the key.
The only Heat player who seems to have good on-court chemistry and can consistently get him the ball at the right place at the right time is Dwyane Wade.
In my opinion, although Goran Dragic is a great player, he is not a great facilitator, especially regarding Whiteside. — Joel.
A: And yet another common theme that has been forwarded to this direction.
(Note to readers: Over the past few days the reaction to Hassan Whiteside’s comments has led to a significant spike in the entries offered in this direction.
The goal today was to offer entries reflective of the most prevalent themes offered.
As always, the submissions are greatly appreciated.)
A: For the first time, I’m not sure I can honestly answer the most basic question regarding Hassan, that being whether he will be with the team next season.
What I know for sure is that he loves living in South Florida, enjoys his teammates, and even has spoken fondly of his relationship with the coaching staff.
But with the Heat responding to his Saturday comments with a fine, it sends multiple messages.
One, they’re fed up.
Two, no more coddling.
Three, perhaps it’s time to make it less comfortable for you here.
And yet, what might have most frustrated the Heat through this episode is that such tensions reduce Whiteside’s value on the trade market.
Instead, he could become the type of distressed property that the Heat have pounced on for pennies on the dollar in recent years.
Q: Hey Ira, Heat fan from France here.
I still think that Hassan Whiteside is our best player, but only if he is 100 percent mentally engaged, healthy and fully conditioned, which seems to never be the case with him.
That said, I think that we should move on from him this summer, also because I’m not convinced he has the “Culture” mentality.
He’s good, but not what he thinks he is. — Vincent, Paris.
A: This is how that works: The only way playing and staying big works against smaller lineups is if the big man bludgeons the opposition.
That was the case against the Heat with Portland Jusuf Nurkic and against Oklahoma City with Steven Adams.
So part of that is about Whiteside, that there can’t be any flippy-dippy-do shots when he goes against undersized lineups, just brute power and force.
And to be candid, that hasn’t always been the case when the Heat have stayed big with Hassan against smaller lineups.
Q: I agree with Hassan Whiteside. We played to the Nets’ small lineup instead of pounding them in the post.
Also, we lose protection in the paint by going small. In the loss to Portland, they kept pounding us in the post; they never went small.
In the loss to OKC, they stayed with Steven Adams.
Hassan is right. — Sippy.
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