Q: Is Joel Embiid sending a signal? – Bob, Davie.
A: Sure, a signal that he expects the 76ers to surround him with more, a signal that he was against Philadelphia moving on from Jimmy Butler in the 2019 offseason, a signal that he knows he still can control the NBA discourse through his social media . But of all the speculation about where the Heat might turn next, I can’t fathom a Joel Embiid trade being part of any legitimate formulation. For the 76ers to move on from Joel, it would mean going back to square one with The Process. Joel Embiid is the Philadelphia 76ers. Basically, I would pity any player, with that Philadelphia fan base, who would have to go into that market as an Embiid replacement. Speculate all you want about Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell or other possible Heat wing acquisitions. But even for all the magic of Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg, there are limits. In this case, Joel Embiid limits.
Q: The majority of the fan base was disappointed in last summer’s signing of Kyle Lowry– and the worst-case scenario has come to fruition due to his history, age and weight . Little to no ROI in the playoffs, when he was available (history was on the disgruntled fans side which can be heard throughout the stands every game he plays). Can we expect the Heat to move on or did we mortgage the future last summer between him and Duncan Robinson? We already had plenty of veteran leadership between Udonis Haslem, Jimmy Butler and PJ Tucker. – AB, Aventura.
A: Whether the notion is the Heat need to move on from Kyle Lowry or reset with some type of Jimmy Butler trade, the reality is the two are a package deal, with Kyle signing with the Heat because of Jimmy, and Jimmy pushing for the addition of Kyle. And while Kyle was hurt during the playoffs, to cast his first season with the Heat as a failure goes against the very heights of the playoffs that the team reached. But I would agree that after the inability to be himself during the playoffs that conditioning should be prioritized. The Heat have been good about avoiding any type of public shaming. But it is reasonable, as you mentioned, to expect a certain return on investment. It well could prove to be a delicate dance between both sides, one likely to be handled privately, but one that certainly needs to be addressed.
Q: Who do you think the Heat want in the NBA Finals? – Sam.
A: I’m not sure there is much of a Heat rooting interest, or even an interest, in the NBA Finals, considering the Heat still are in decompression mode, likely replaying that Jimmy Butler 3-point attempt in their minds over and over . But there always is something to be said about losing to the eventual champions in the playoffs, which the Heat have done the previous two years (Bucks in 2021, Lakers in 2020).