With the trade deadline getting closer, rumors are starting to pop up.
Paul Millsap is the hot name this week. Should the Heat make a move to land the All-Star forward?
We answered that question and more in this week’s installment of the Heat mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).
@cmurray_25: Whether he’s on the trading block or not, is Paul Millsap worth going after?
Anthony Chiang: No, not this season. Paul Millsap isn’t going to make this current Heat team a contender in the Eastern Conference, especially if Miami has to give up young talent like Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson or Tyler Johnson to get him. The addition of Millsap might have made sense for last season’s Heat team — one that was near the top of the conference. Millsap would have helped that team (probably get past Toronto to advance to the conference finals) last season especially with Chris Bosh out. That’s why a team like the Raptors, currently the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, has been mentioned as a potential landing spot for Millsap.
But with the Heat at the bottom of the standings, they aren’t in position to acquire the three-time All-Star. It makes more sense for Miami to develop its young talent this season with hopes of adding players through the draft or free agency this offseason. Plus, Millsap is expected to opt out of the final year of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Miami can’t take the gamble of trading away assets for Millsap with only the hope that he decides to stay past this season. And if the Heat do finish as one of the worst teams in the NBA, why exactly would Millsap stay?
@FareezyCheesy: Do you think any of the Heat’s younger guys can develop into a go-to guy or will we have to find one through the draft or free agency?
Anthony Chiang: I think the Heat are asking themselves the same question. That’s really what this season is about at this point — evaluating the young talent on the roster (Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson). If by a go-to guy you mean a superstar, I’m not sure any of those guys will turn into that. Whiteside is the best player in that group right now, but it’s very hard to run the offense through a center in today’s NBA especially when that center is not a good free-throw shooter.
If I had to pick the one player in that group of four who is most likely to turn into a go-to guy during stretches of games, I would pick Johnson. Erik Spoelstra made an interesting comparison last week, comparing Johnson’s aggressive and fearless mentality to that of Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas. And that was after Thomas went for 52 points against the Heat. Johnson wants the ball in his hands late in games and Spoelstra trusts him late in games. Johnson was averaging a team-high 10.9 minutes per fourth quarter this season entering Tuesday’s contest against the Suns. Those are all signs that Johnson could be a guy who develops into a go-to offensive player down the road.
But if you’re looking for a superstar. The Heat are more likely to find it in the draft or free agency.
@DonnyRizzle: What’s the point of keeping the Heat’s bench the same if the starters aren’t producing?
Anthony Chiang: Yes, the Heat have been outscored by 98 points in the first half through their first 35 games of the season. That’s not good. But what exactly is the Heat’s ideal starting lineup and bench rotation? I don’t think we know that answer yet because of all the injuries. The rotation has been in a state of flux since the start of the season because players keep getting hurt. 14 Heat players (including Chris Bosh) have combined to miss 140 games due to injuries over the first 35 games of the season.
It’s almost impossible to evaluate or criticize the rotation when players are missing that many games due to injury.