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South Florida Sun Sentinel

ASK IRA: Are the Heat the NBA’s version of an NIT team?

By Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel,

2023-03-15

Q: Ira, the Heat beat the Jazz and we get a parade about grit and perseverance and toughness and resilience. Go ahead, quick, name five Jazz players who played Monday night (no peeking) and I’ll spot you Lauri Markkanen and Kelly Olynyk. And that was after losing in overtime in Orlando (name five Magics). Stop talking about playoffs when you can’t beat nobodies. – Mel.

A: Not going to lie, you got me about the Jazz roster, although Alec Kessler’s nephew was out there as was the guy from Italy that only those from Pescara knew about. The Magic are a bit easier to name if you simply have watched the lottery the last dozen years. But OK, killjoy, a point reasonably made. It’s like the story I posted about close games . While there is something to be said about finding a way to win, or even a way to fight back in Orlando and force overtime, when the going gets tough, the Heat has to be far tougher than such middling competition. They’re not. If the NBA were the NCAA, the Heat would be a top seed . . . in the NIT.

Q: Hey Ira, when does Jimmy have “the talk” with Pat Riley? I would bet he’s saying no one other than Bam Adebayo is untouchable. We need a whole new squad, one that fits their (Bam & Jimmy) skill set. I like Caleb Martin. He’s a Heat guy. But try to find takers for the rest. This season is done. Frankly, I hope they don’t make the play-in. Get a decent pick and get younger. – Cheryl, Fort Lauderdale.

A: I’m sure not Jimmy Butler is attached to anyone on the roster to the degree he would step in and attempt to block any trade. The last time Jimmy got involved, the Heat added Kyle Lowry. This time, figure Jimmy to be open to any and every possible upgrade.

Q: Who do you think are the Heat players that might be attractive to some other teams, to bundle with first-round draft picks to trade for a badly needed player who actually moves the needle? I’ve got Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin, Max Strus. Victor Oladipo would have to massively up his game for the rest of the regular season and playoffs. Another potential benefit to Cody Zeller breaking his nose is Omer Yurtseven being showcased for a possible trade. I hope Nikola Jovic is kept off the table, because of his upside. – Morgan, New Orleans.

A: If you are attempting to move the need with a trade, then you would have to be willing to move Tyler Herro or Bam Adebayo. Otherwise, you likely would be looking at lateral moves. Also, Max Strus is an impending free agent and cannot be dealt. It ultimately comes down to whether you are looking to upgrade now around Jimmy Butler or are looking to set up a future around Herro and Adebayo. I’m not sure the Heat have enough assets and talent to thread the needle and attempt to do both. That would seem a path toward again being stuck in the middle.

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