Heat mailbag: What will Justise Winslow’s role be when he returns? That, and trade stuff

Heat forward Justise Winslow should be returning soon from his knee injury, but will there be much playing time for him off the bench? (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

MIAMI – The Heat mailbag is filling up so it’s time to start emptying it out.

If you were not able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to @tomdangelo44 and @Anthony_Chiang. You can also e-mail me at tdangelo@pbpostcom.

From Don, Royal Palm Beach: Where does Winslow fit in when he returns from his injury?

That’s a great question, Don, because since Winslow last played on Dec. 13, the Heat are a much different team. Coach Erik Spoelstra has settled into a nice – although short – rotation and with Dion Waiters now lost for the season after the Heat confirmed he would undergo surgery on his ankle, perhaps there is room for the 6-foot-7 Winslow off the bench.

Winslow is a versatile player who started 15-of-19 games – most of them at power forward – before suffering a left knee strain. He did, though, come off the bench in four straight games leading up to the injury. And he had his best offensive game of the season just four days before hurting the knee with 15 points on 5-of-6, including making all four of his 3-point attempts, against Brooklyn in Mexico City. Figuring Spoelstra continues to start Tyler Johnson alongside Goran Dragic in the backcourt, Winslow likely will settle into a spot on the bench as both a small forward and perhaps seeing spot duty as the ball handler, a role we saw him in at times early in the season. As for minutes at power forward, those will be limited with the emergence of Bam Adebayo, who will continue to see time in the power rotation off the bench.

Spoelstra’s big challenge will be to find enough minutes for 10 rotational players when Rodney McGruder returns. That is when someone like Winslow could see his playing time reduced some.

From @strick9si: What’s the deal with the trade rumors? Do you think we trade Winslow, I personally think it would be insane to trade Whiteside unless we get back equal or better.

Pat Riley and Andy Elisburg will be looking at all options to improve this team for this season and the future. Miami is in a tough spot because of the long-term contracts. Every rotational player, with the exception of Wayne Ellington, has at least two years remaining on their deals. Many teams looking to trade good players around the deadline typically are looking for expiring contracts.

But nobody on the this team is untouchable although it would have to take Miami receiving young, All-Star caliber players for it to part with Josh Richardson, Bam Adebayo or Dragic. Otherwise, if the Heat find a deal in which it can improve this year’s team and perhaps help with the cap situation this summer, they will not be afraid to pull the trigger. The two players you bring up, Winslow and Whiteside, may be the two that are mentioned most in rumors as we move closer to the Feb. 8 trade deadline. Some have speculated that for Miami to get any better – and free up some cap space this summer – it would have to deal those two as a package.

But one thing is certain, Riley will not make a deal that hurts this team’s chance of making the playoffs this season, especially considering its recent run. Miami (24-17) is playing confidently and believes it has a chance for a top four spot in the East. Any deal at the deadline would be made with enhancing those chances.

[Without a go-to superstar, Heat have used different approach to become one of NBA’s top teams in the clutch]

[Living the simple life: Heat’s Kelly Olynyk chillin’ off the court, ballin’ on the court]

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One thought on “Heat mailbag: What will Justise Winslow’s role be when he returns? That, and trade stuff”

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