Ira Winderman: Is Miami’s Spending Too Much?

Q: Ira, big, big, big money is entering the fray. When Donald Sterling was forced to sell, Steve Ballmer came in and spent, and the Clippers are now one step closer to winning a championship. Joseph Tsai has spent a lot of money with the Nets on his Big Threes. And whoever buys the Suns from Robert Sarver will be in it to win it. Sandy asks if our pockets are deep enough. A: According to sources, the Heat’s approach to both the luxury tax and being hard capped is fundamentally a function of basketball operations, of wanting to maintain needed flexibility in personnel – and possibly eventually go all-in on a major move. That certainly happened during the Shaquille O’Neal era, and then again to form the Big Three. Indeed, the amount spent on Duncan Robinson, Kyle Lowry, and even the contract that will take Jimmy Butler to the age of 36 has sparked some criticism from Heat critics. Even before that, many questioned the money spent on Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, and Tyler Johnson by the end. The NBA is rife with spending that hinders as much as it helps (and, yes, it can help, as evidenced by the Golden State Warriors’ stance against the tax). If this were a salary-cap-free league, then spend like the Mets and Yankees in baseball if a championship is the ultimate goal. But, regardless of how much money Micky Arison is willing to spend, Andy Elisburg will oversee how the money is spent and how it affects the overall roster and personnel structure. To that end, it will be interesting to see how the tax situation plays out in conjunction with the Heat’s decision on a Tyler Herro extension. But the Heat (and Arison) rarely let money walk out the door. [ Enter your “Ask Ira” question here! ] Q: They are the same or worse than last year as of today. The only hope right now is for Victor Oladipo to return to All-Star form. – Kevin. A: After four injury-limited seasons, that might be too high of a bar. A good place to start with Victor Oladipo would be to function as a reliable two-way sixth man. That would allow the opportunity for Tyler Herro to potentially move into the starting lineup and also boost the overall rotation. Asking for too much for Victor, or expecting too much, could be asking for trouble. Q: Hi, Ira, Love the ‘5 at 35′ series. Thank you so much for doing it. I’ve followed the team as long as you’ve covered them, and it’s great to see so many names and people appreciated. I really love the trips down memory lane. – Phillip, San Francisco. A: It’s been fun, but I also appreciate that when camp starts next week there actually will be news relevant to the moment, which is why I limited the scale to just two weeks, even though the addendum to your comment did include some interesting options for lists, as well. (Although I’m not sure about Top 5 coaches, since the Heat only have had five full-time coaches in their 35 seasons: Ron Rothstein, Kevin Loughery, Pat Riley, Stan Van Gundy and Erik Spoelstra, with Alvin Gentry briefly serving as interim coach.) [ More “Ask Ira” ]