Q: Ira, I feel that for the most part your opinions are spot on, but with regards to Victor Oladipo, you really have been way too dismissive of his upside. You thought (wrongly) he’d be a non-factor in the playoffs and you now suggested that Caleb Martin is the more important piece moving forward. If Oladipo returns to form, he’s an All-Star. All-Stars don’t grow on trees. Yes, his game his is similar to Butler ‘s but that ‘s what coaches are paid for – to create a cohesive unit from the best talent available. – Ray, Deerfield Beach.
A: I not only appreciate your sentiment, I also appreciate the work Victor Oladipo put in to get back to NBA relevance, after dealing injuries and surgeries. If that has somewhat gotten lost in the analysis, then that’s on me. But when taking a holistic approach to roster construction, it also is about where a player fits, a key element in deciding price point (which is where this whole debate began). At the moment, it is difficult to envision a scenario where Victor plays alongside Jimmy Butler in the starting lineup. That is not a knock on either, just the reality of a pair of attacking wings that do not provide 3-point spacing (even with their abilities to convert 3-point shots). Similarly, if Tyler Herro remains as sixth man, which remains a possibility, then that removes Victor’s opportunity for thriving in such a role. So, based on where the roster currently stands (“currently” being the operative word), it was difficult to envision a sizable free-agent contract for Victor along the lines of starter money from the Heat. That was based on cap-onmics more than anything about Victor’s journey or skill set. The one-year, $11 million deal seems like a reasonable compromise.
Q: Ira, we heard so much about PJ Tucker being a glue guy. How do you replace that with so many young players? – Andrew.
A: This is where Kyle Lowry has to take the next step, beyond his on-court guidance and conditioning. When you consider the contract the Heat offered last summer, the $85 million over three years, the sense was also getting one of the game’s elite leaders. While family matters kept him away from the team for a significant chunk of last season, this is when Kyle as “glue guy” is most needed. Such an approach simply is not Jimmy Butler’s style. And Bam Adebayo remains somewhat of a neophyte, a contemporary in age to many of his teammates his. What the Heat need is for Kyle to become the face of the locker room. It will be interesting to see if it can play out that way.
Q: Admit it, Ira, the Heat missed the boat on Dejuonte Murray? – Joe.
A: That comes down to this: Are the Heat in a position to give up three first-round picks, at least two unprotected, and mortgage their draft future? That basically is what the Hawks did. Atlanta’s move regarding the lack of protections is extremely rare. The Heat, as constructed, are featuring Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry. So to make a deal like the Hawks did, you would have to be firmly convinced that Dejounte is the superior talent to Tyler Herro. At this stage, I’m not sure that the Heat don’t need Tyler’s shooting scoring more than Dejounte’s defense.