Q: When Jimmy Butler comes back, Caleb Martin slides to the reserve role for Jimmy Butler like a glove. Nikola Jovic should start from here on out. – A.J.
A: Which likely would mean, because of numbers, that it would therefore squeeze Duncan Robinson out of the rotation, considering Erik Spoelstra is not likely to go beyond nine deep. So with your proposal, it would be a starting lineup of Jovic, Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro, with a primary bench unit of Caleb Martin, Max Strus, Gabe Vincent and Dewayne Dedmon. I’m just not sure the team is willing to go that way yet. By contrast, when Butler returns, you might make an argument for Jovic slipping into the Dedmon role against smaller teams. Again, you are talking about a 19-year-old No. 27 first-round pick. In that regard, any playing time practically would be fast tracking. We’re talking Jovic not Dirk Nowitzki (who, by the way, had to bide his time as a Mavericks rookie). And that’s not getting into Caleb doing nothing to merit losing his starting role. Wednesday, he was one of the Heat’s best players.
Q: Ira, you say that you see “no other way” to improve the team from the outside without giving up draft picks, but it’s early and teams become much more agreeable come the deadline. Moreover, there’s always the buyout market. – Gabriel, Miami.
A: The problem with dealing with struggles early and then waiting until the March 1 buyout deadline is that you have to make yourself sexy enough to lure a player disgruntled elsewhere. Players are not going to give up a portion of their salary to go to a play-in team. So what you do now can matter when it comes time for veterans in losing situations to cast eyes elsewhere.
Q: Why not sign DeMarcus Cousins to a two-way contract for more experience, since you said that doesn’t count against the cap or tax? – Eddie.
A: First, because two-way contracts are only available to those with four or fewer years of experience. Besides that, would you be the one who would want to tell DeMarcus Cousins, “OK, time to head off to Sioux Falls”?