5-on-5: Bosh’s Health Scare, Heat Twitter’s Mania, and NBA Trade Deadline
The NBA trade deadline has passed and our expert staff at Miami Heat Beat is here to tell you how to think! Exciting right? We’re borrowing on ESPN’s 5-on-5 idea where we take five of our staff writers and ask them all the same questions to hear their different opinions (hot takes) on what’s going on with the Heat. So without further adieu, let’s get started.
1. Why is Heat Twitter crazy this season, like really crazy?
Giancarlo Navas: I do think a lot of this has to do with this being the first time in the Twitter era that the team isn’t a contender. So, what you have is a thousand people with a platform and everyone is flustered. Some guys wanna blow the whole thing up, others are in an anti-Whiteside or anti-Wade camp, others a faultlessly loyal, so you have all these dissenting voices about a team that in a way, has underachieved. Also, they are just bat shit crazy
Brian Goins: It’s simple. It’s in their innate nature to crave constant, positive stimuli. They want and are sort of obsessed with chasing A-list talent and titles, and they’ve become gluttonous to it – to the extent that anything below greatness from those memories of LeBron in Miami is considered a failure to some. The sad realization is not every season can end with a parade down Biscayne Boulevard. And not everything will fall our way (see #OfCourse, every live-tweeted Heat game). Sure, I’d love to reclaim our status and brand as a championship contender again, but sometimes you need to struggle before you can appreciate the feel-good.
Leif Sylvander: Many Heat fans on Twitter – and sports fans in general – are casual fans masquerading as diehard fans. Most are more concerned with issuing “hot takes” rather than thinking about the team with logic and reason. “The Big 3 Era” (and 2006 to a lesser degree) has spoiled Heat fans into thinking we always land the biggest name on the market, we never strike out and we never make mistakes. By thinking this way, it has made them overreact positively or negatively to every transaction.
Christian Hernandez: This is what happens when your fan base gets used to your team constantly being a contender. Five Finals trips and three championships since the franchise drafted Dwyane Wade while winning 58 percent of all regular-season games in that span. Avoided a post-Shaq rebuild by winning the free agency Powerball. Fans can’t handle the incoming reality. “A Rebuild is Coming.”
The Greater Alf: Heat Twitter is crazy because Heat Twitter has been infiltrated by a foul and ruinous disease called “The Big 3 Era.” Before this disease took hold, the fanbase was a humble group. Beaten down by first round exits and 15-win seasons, all we asked for was a glimmer of hope in the summer of 2010. But what we got was a flying death machine, full of cobra penises and parade floats. Now two years after the departure of “He Who Shall Not Be Named” the fanbase is akin to a den of fiends clawing at their own faces during detox. Pleading with the pusha’ man for one more hit of greatness that may never come.
2. Was it wise that the Heat stood pat (lol) and only got under the tax at the deadline?
Giancarlo: Considering that Miami wasn’t a real contender to being with, yes. I do think going after a cheap shooter like Omri Casspi would have helped for next year while still maintaining cap flexibility, but the fact that they didn’t get rid of any real assets and were able to get under the tax is a win for them. Not exciting for fans, but a win nonetheless.
Brian: Miami made the smart move(s) to trade away their dead-weight players who weren’t in the rotation to begin with, create roster spots while also falling below the luxury tax. We’re not going to hear about the punitive repeater-tax for at least the next four years. Hooray! But at the same time, Miami has allowed itself some flexibility moving forward as the NBA’s salary cap increases to unprecedented highs because of their windfall of television revenue starting summer of 2016. Would I wish they made a move for a cheap shooter like Omri Casspi? Yes.
But we knew Pat Riley lacked the assets and that he would have a better opportunity to retool after the NBA Draft. The underlying question is, what’s his master plan? Will he give up on Goran Dragic that easily for the like of Mike Conley? Is Hassan Whiteside ever going to get a contract offer from Miami? Will Riley be able to convince Wade to re-sign at a discounted rate to go after two max free agents? It’s the great unknown, but be certain these next two offseasons will be his final guns blazing moment.
Leif: I think until you have 100 percent clarity on the situation with Chris Bosh, the most prudent approach was to kick the tires on the big fish or moves of value and if nothing materialized (it didn’t) you get beneath the luxury tax line and reassess everything this summer.
Christian: It was the only move to make. Especially with the status of Chris Bosh in serious doubt, it did not make any sense to be buyers at the trade deadline. Getting under the tax saved the Heat over $25 million dollars, but more importantly, avoided the dreaded repeater tax penalty which would have affected the Heat’s spending in future years. Not to mention the Heat didn’t sacrifice any rotation players in the process.
Alf: I’m sure it was wise because I’m sure it was the only option. I have little doubt that Pat Riley called every team in the league with a silky-smooth pitch about the virtues of Josh McRobert’s durability, and Hassan Whiteside’s amazing low-post footwork. Unfortunately, other GM’s around the league have televisions and internet. It was always a long shot to think that in an effort to rent Whiteside for a couple of months, a contender would give up a valuable piece and take on one of our trash contracts. So in the end, getting under the tax and avoiding the dreaded “repeater” label was the best option. It provides for more flexibility this off-season while maintaining a core (with or without Chris Bosh) that can still compete for a playoff spot.
3. Considering Bosh’s health, what should they do with a front line that depends so much on Amar’e and McBobs’ being healthy?
Giancarlo: It’s still early in the Bosh thing, but what seems to be clear is that he is probably out for the season. From what I have read after you take blood thinners, you need to be out a minimum of three months. In a hypothetical world that would place his return in the middle of the playoffs. I would imagine with the extra roster spot cleared up by the Anderson and Roberts deal that they will sign a veteran or D-League big. Miami can sign only one more player to the veteran’s minimum without getting back into the luxury tax.
Brian: Play small with Luol Deng and let Justise Winslow make mistakes. Let Whiteside be more involved on offense, primarily through pick and rolls. Pray Spoelstra can make Wade and Dragic co-exist on the court, whether that means fixing pace by forcing Wade to come off-the-ball and having his usage rate decrease. And hope for a miracle that Bosh can recover to full strength before the playoffs arrive and that his career isn’t in jeopardy. The Heat need to make a playoff run for Riley’s case to entice free agents by giving them another reason to come down here. No Heat fan should want this team to tank now, it’d be against everything they’re building for.
Leif: It’s time to see what the team looks like with Hassan Whiteside getting plays called for him. Involve him as much as possible and see what it looks like. It gives us a chance to assess further the potential of Whiteside as a key cog (especially in the event Bosh is out long term). It is also the time to see Justise Winslow get the opportunity to play some as a hybrid forward. Not just as a role player but with the chance to make plays with the ball in his hands in his sweet spots. Deng is going to be relied upon to space the floor as the stretch 4 from the corners I would imagine. McRoberts is going to have to be more aggressive than we have seen him. I think they may need to add an insurance big man. It is going to be challenging that is for sure.
Christian: The Heat, assuming that Bosh misses an extended period, will be going small from here on out. Expect nothing but lineups with one big man (Hassan/Amar’e), while featuring a whole lot of Deng at the 4 and Winslow/Green sharing the 3. Obviously, McRoberts will take up the rest of those minutes at the 4, but it is hard to count on him right now.
Alf: The one bright spot that comes from the Bosh injury is more Luol Deng at the power forward spot, his best position all year. By moving Deng to the 4 and starting Winslow at small forward, this gives Miami a “one-big” lineup that has been very effective this season. Even as someone who has been critical of Whiteside, I can admit that the numbers with him, Deng and Winslow in the lineup have been solid. Depth will be a major issue with Stoudemire, McRoberts and Haslem all either inconsistent, oft-injured, or really old. If nothing else, this will be a good indication of what you have going forward with 2 of your young building blocks.
4. What’s been the most surprising, positive development so far this season?
Giancarlo: Dwyane Wade’s health, it has been the most bizarre thing to see. He has played in 50 of the Heat’s 53 games and one of the missed games wasn’t due to injury. What this sets up for is an interesting off-season where Wade can hold up his anomaly season as proof of his new found health.
Brian: Dwyane Wade’s shifted focus to work on his body more than his game so that he can be available throughout the season. He changed his narrative as Riley wished, now let’s see how many more years he can prolong his career while still being effective. Second, is Winslow’s defensive prowess. That 19-year-old kid is scary good.
Leif: Most surprising development so far this season I would have to say is the availability of Dwyane Wade.
Christian: The two young guys, Tyler Johnson and Justise Winslow. Tyler proved that not only his he an NBA player but he will be a rotation player on a contender some day. Once he gets his shoulder fixed, I’m excited to see how far his game grows. Justise Winslow is already an above average defender as a 19-year-old. His offensive game and overall athleticism should only grow in the coming years.
Alf: This is easy . . . BENO! As president and sole member of the Beno Udrih fan club, I have marveled at his steady play. I’ve swooned every time he’s hit one of those awkward leaning jumpers and have had my breath taken away by his ability to get the ball across half court. Why do these things thrill me, you ask? Because after years and years of the “Riocoaster” and the failed “Tyler Johnson is a starting caliber NBA point guahaahahahaha” experiment, it’s nice to just have a solid backup point guard. In a season of high expectations and ho-hum results, I’ll take it!
5. Biggest disappointment this season?
Giancarlo: As much as I love Josh McRoberts ….. my goodness! McBobs! It sucks that he can’t stay healthy. I really thought after not playing much last season that he would have a fresh body and be available for most games. Not all games, but around 60 or so, and I have been so wrong. It isn’t his fault and a lot of his injuries happen at odd times and usually not on the actual court.
Brian: This season will likely end in Miami shooting one of the three worst three point percentages in its franchise history (last two occurring in 15-win seasons during its inaugural year back in 1989 and in ’08). In an age where the three-pointer has become the most valuable shot, this is something Riley knows he needs to address in the offseason.
Leif : The easy answer here is Chris Bosh, but I think if we subtract the obvious I would say the biggest disappointment is coming to the realization that it appears the 4 players we were intent on building around in Bosh, Wade, Whiteside & Dragic are not really 4 players that aren’t going to fit together as the core of a contending team. Some of that may be due to a lack of shooting/spacing, but it is just flat out disappointing.
Christian: Not sure there’s any answer more obvious than the unicorn himself, Josh McRoberts. This season he has again struggled to stay healthy. He was a guy the Heat were really counting on to help them compete, and the numbers show that he helps them win when he’s out there, but he’s just never out there.
Alf: There are a lot of answers that could work here, but it has to be the return of Chris Bosh’s blood clots. For a guy that had been such a steadying force for this franchise through his first 4 ½ years, from his heroic 2012 Eastern Conference Finals return to his 2014 free agency signing, the past two all-star breaks have been devastating. The speculation over what this means to his health, his career and to this franchise have been all over the board, but the only thing we truly know is this: We will never look at a Bosh injury the same again. Every mysterious strain, sprain or pull will draw whispers of a career-ending blood clot and quotes from doctors about the dangerous side effects of blood thinners. It’s an uneasy way to feel about a player who has been the most consistent thing about your team for over half a decade.
Bonus: Do league executives use ESPN’s trade machine?
Giancarlo: Is water wet?
Brian: I would ask our sideline reporter, Harrison Cytryn. He’s got the inside scoops and I heard he’s a master lip-reader.
Leif: I think most are probably using some level of Excel Spreadsheet (maybe some connect to a BI Cube for advanced statistics, sorry to go nerd on you), but I wouldn’t be surprised if they occasionally use the trade machine for quick reference. Lebron uses the trade machine and probably sends screen shots to the ‘Cavs front office permitting them to pursue what he demands.
Christian: Does Chris Broussard actually have sources?
Alf: I hope to all that’s holy they don’t, because that would mean that no one knows what the hell they are doing. It also means that half the schmucks who pollute my timeline with trade machine screen grabs could be GM’s – and that good sirs is a world I don’t want to live in.
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