Mailbag: Who should be the Heat’s starting small forward — Rodney McGruder or Justise Winslow?

MIAMI — Rodney McGruder impressed as the Heat’s starting small forward in place of the injured Justise Winslow last season.

But with Justise set to return this upcoming season, will Rodney be sent back to the bench? We answer that question and more in the latest installment of the Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

Kyle Korver #26 of the Cleveland Cavaliers is guarded by Rodney McGruder #17 of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on March 4, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

@soy_pinguino: Will Rodney McGruder give Justise Winslow a run for his money at the starting small forward spot?

Anthony Chiang: I think this is going to be up in the air entering training camp. Rodney McGruder deserves the opportunity to compete for the job after playing as the Heat’s starting small forward in each game of the incredible 30-11 turnaround. But I feel like Justise Winslow will open the season as the starting three. Justise is 21 years old and has the potential to be a difference maker in this league with his unique versatile skill set that we’re all still waiting to see on a consistent basis. Sure, one can argue that Justise doesn’t fit next to the Heat’s starting backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters. Goran and Dion are two of the best in the league at the drive-and-kick game and benefit from having shooters on the perimeter. Justise isn’t that, but he’s turning into so many other things. A versatile defender, a playmaker and a ball handler at the forward position. Let Justise, the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft, start on opening night and see what happens. You can always turn to Rodney if things don’t work out. Plus, just think about how effective Rodney can be in a bench role.

@iamtzamac: Isn’t it wiser to wait two years until Kyrie Irving is a free agent instead of trading for him now? Since he considers the Heat as a target destination.

Anthony Chiang: Sure, that could work out for the Heat. But remember, the Knicks, Timberwolves and Spurs are also reportedly on Kyrie’s list of preferred destinations. So don’t think that it’s a slam dunk that Kyrie will automatically pick the Heat if he opts to become a free agent two summers from now. Miami has already learned that getting in the room and actually landing the free agent are two very different things with Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward. Also, there’s the whole salary cap thing that could hold the Heat back from signing Kyrie to the max contract he’s likely to demand. In the summer of 2019, the Heat could still have Hassan Whiteside, Goran Dragic, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Johnson on the books. Those six players are combined to account for about $105 million of Miami’s cap space in the summer of 2019. Playing the waiting game could be hard for the Heat if they really want Kyrie.

[A look at a few roster decisions that await the Heat in August]

[Do Heat feel like they still need a backup point guard? ‘Absolutely not’]

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