ASK IRA: Are Heat concerningly thin at power forward?
Q: I’m a bit worried our “run it back” mentality will turn into the year after the Finals, when we got swept by the Bucks. We tried to patch the four spot with an undersized Moe Harkless, the same way it seems we’re going to try the same with Caleb Martin. Even if Caleb is our starter, we have no backup four, either. Wouldn’t Haywood Highsmith’s contract be better served as a two-way, so that it opens up a roster spot for say a Blake Griffin? – Sylvester, Philadelphia.
A: The Haywood Highsmith element is one I raised during summer league. The problem is the way that Haywood’s contract is structured, another team can claim him off waivers at the NBA-minimum scale while also not having to worry about guaranteeing his contract. So, basically, it would be unlikely he would clear waivers, which would be a required move if the Heat would want to (and Highsmith would acquiesce to) make the shift to a two-way. But there are other avenues to adding a veteran presence at power forward, be it a Blake Griffin or Markieff Morris or another player still unsigned. Foremost would be utilizing the roster spot otherwise to be taken by Udonis Haslem. Of course, the Heat also could simply play Haslem, who is a power forward. Beyond that, the Heat do retain the option of adding a 15th player now at power forward and then working later to get below the luxury tax at season’s end. Or it simply could be that the front office is comfortable with the pool of Martin and Highsmith, as well as other oversized or undersized lineups, in the power rotation. And remember, if the Heat send out more players in a trade than they bring in, a roster spot would then be opened for such an additional signing of a power forward.
Q: Ira, if Pat Riley can’t find another superstar at a bargain price, or make a trade for someone like Harrison Barnes or Gordon Hayward by the trading deadline, the best move might be to target a player like Kevin Love after a buyout. – Gabe, Miami.
A: First, the Cavaliers, who plan to be in the playoff race, might not necessarily be sellers. But, to the conundrum raised in the question above, an addition at the buyout deadline could also provide an answer. That, however, would be taking a decidedly long view, considering such moves typically don’t come until late February or March.
Q: Bring Hassan Whiteside back. He has matured. – Shane.
A: While that certainly has become a valid position, the Heat hardly are in position to sign another center, with Dewayne Dedmon re-signed and with the developmental possibilities of Omer Yurtseven. Oftentimes it comes down to teams wanting to try something new. At 33 (yes, he is that old), Hassan Whiteside might simply have aged out.