ASK IRA: Is calling Chris Paul one who got away a Heat overstatement?
Q: Regarding Pat Riley having had a shot at Chris Paul, Paul is clear alpha on the Suns’ team. How would two alphas such as Jimmy Butler and Paul coexist? Paul fulfilled a needed leadership void in Phoenix. Two, the Heat would have had to give up something of value to get Paul. You can’t just add something without creating space for it. Could be players, draft picks, cap space, luxury taxes, etc. How would have Heat roster have looked after Paul’s arrival minus needed trade pieces, including a phantom draft pick? Three, the Heat don’t have an Deandre Ayton or Devin Booker. The Thunder were also a young team. So while Paul helps any team, he does better in some places than others. Monday morning quarterbacks have pretty good track records. Friday night quarterbacks not so much. — Leonard, Cornelius, N.C.
A: All logical points, including the fact an acquisition would have come at a cost, that it wasn’t simply a transaction in free agency. Plus, the Heat did not have the type of first-round pick that the Suns sent to Oklahoma City. And there is something, too, to be said about having the dueling personalities of Jimmy Butler and Chris Paul in the same locker room. Sometimes it is as basic as the right player in the right place at the right time. And Chris Paul’s time is now, with the Suns, in the Finals. The Heat hardly erred by bypassing their Chris Paul opportunity.
Q: What do you see the Heat’s priority this off-season ? Personally I think it should be adding an All-Star caliber scorer, preferably with playmaking abilities, such as Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie or even Norman Powell. Next I think they should fix our starting hole at power forward, with a 3-and-D player such as Rudy Gay. What are your thoughts? — Jonny.
A: They have to find scoring, have to. Ultimately, Spencer Dinwiddie could be the right player at the right price. As for Rudy Gay, I’m not sure that is an upgrade on Trevor Ariza. And if the Heat choose to operate above the salary cap, they can bring back Trevor with his Early Bird rights and not have to touch an exception, as likely would have to be the case with Rudy. Rudy in and Trevor out seems like no more than a lateral move to me.
Q: NBA Finals in July after NBA Finals in October. Ira, what is wrong with this picture? — Anthony.
A: That a pandemic is bigger than sports. But, to its credit, the NBA soon will be back on the road back to normalcy. The only criticism, and it is a minor one, was the rush to avoid a conflict with the Olympics. But, at the end of the day, the NBA found a way to complete a pair of seasons amid the most uncertain of times.