ASK IRA: Should Heat expect more from Adebayo in Butler’s absence?

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Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
·3 min read
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Q: Since when has it ever become acceptable for a player like Bam Adebayo to be in the forefront of a team and on the verge of making max dollars to be as passive and lackadaisical as he’s been? Eleven points in 30 minutes of play without Jimmy Butler is unacceptable, and time in time out this kid is given a pass for leaving his teammates hanging. He will never be a max player no matter how you and Erik Spoelstra and others try to make him out to be. — Daryl, Fitzgerald, Ga.

A: First, we all need to move off the term “max player.” Ultimately, it is nothing more than a contractual term. Getting the max often has as much to do with leverage than any metric computation. What Bam Adebayo is is a max-level complementary player. And you need those, too. Is he going to ever be a leading man? His lack of a go-to move makes that unlikely at the moment. But he is what you need alongside your max player in order to win, in the lineage of Chris Bosh and Kevin Garnett. No, not in any way putting him at that level of pedigree at the moment. But those players also needed a max-level wing talent alongside in order to succeed at the highest level.

Q: I’m fearing another Udonis Haslem return next year. All the key factors are aligning. There aren’t enough fans in the stands to give him a proper farewell, the team is disappointing, and there’s a good chance some of our older leadership types will be gone next year. When does the front office and when do the fans realize the opportunity cost of having him come back year after year? We’re supposedly trying to be a contender but always play down a roster spot. It’s so annoying to see minimum-salary guys like Dwight Howard, Nicolas Batum, Jeff Green, Cam Payne either break out or at least provide great value to contending teams. Shoot, we could’ve had Dewayne Dedmon a lot earlier if we had Haslem’s spot open. — Sal, Miami.

A: It likely comes down to the very same thing it came down to this season: If Udonis Haslem says he wants to return, he’s back. I cannot fathom Udonis publicly saying he would like to return and the Heat saying no. Debate whether you believe that is right or wrong, but I strong believe that is the undeniable reality.

Q Ira, in keeping with the Kendrick Nunn theme, what would it take for Kendrick Nunn to establishing himself as the long-term replacement for Goran Dragic? — Gabriel, Miami.

A: Likely more than he can provide. For all Kendrick Nunn has accomplished as a scorer, and he has accomplished plenty, he is not a true, playmaking point guard. And as the Heat have shown in their non-Goran Dragic minutes, they benefit by have a playmaker on the court. That’s the rub with having a 6-2 shooting guard such as Kendrick, that he has to be played alongside an upsized playmaker.