ASK IRA: Do the Heat have the means to trade into the NBA draft?

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Q: Ira, this offseason there are quite a few paths to improvement but very few have looked to the draft absent any Heat picks. There are three or so elite level playmaking, athletic guards that would instantly make any other four players better. Would Pat Riley entertain a trade package which would likely need to include Tyler Herro and or Kendrick Nunn plus fillers to get into the top five of this draft, or is he still stuck in a get a veteran mindset? — Brian, Fort Lauderdale.

A: First, Kendrick Nunn is an impending free agent, so you cannot trade him. Same with Duncan Robinson. At the moment, there are only five players the Heat can trade: Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Precious Achiuwa, KZ Okpala and Tyler Herro. To your greater point, I’m not sure that being led by a rookie point guard is the way to go on a team where your leading man, Butler, will be turning 32 before the start of the season. Yes, Jimmy has embraced youth during his time with the Heat. And, yet, at moments of truth, has shown a decided preference for the savvy of Goran Dragic and other veterans.

Q: The Heat need to start using size as one of their major qualifying characteristics. — Eion.

A: And there was a time when that is the direction Pat Riley went. And then wingspan took a backseat to overall skill set, as proved to be the case in going the direction they went with Tyler Herro. But with Riley so adamant about the need for rebounding improvement and possibly playing with dual big men, wingspan may yet come to again rule the day with the Heat.

Q: Hey, Ira. So how long before Pat Riley follows suit and hands the reins to Erik Spoelstra, a la Boston with Brad Stevens? And since we’re playing the hypothetical crystal ball game, who would you see as good candidates to replace Spo? Crystal ball speaking of course. — Mike, Austin, Texas.

A: No need to speculate, since Pat Riley reiterated this month that he isn’t going anywhere. And unlike in Boston, as there was with Danny Ainge, there is no growing groundswell for such a move with Riley. So Riley leads, Spoelstra coaches and improvement is the goal. Plus, Erik already has significant personnel say. So it’s not as if he isn’t already part of that mix.

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