Q: So who will be the backup point guards for the Heat this year: Dwyane Wade? Justise Winslow? Or maybe even Malik Newman? -- Skip, Tampa.
A: The problem here is that if I attempt to answer this then the pushback becomes that it doesn't matter, that in a positon-less approach players should not get put into such boxes. And that sounds all well and good, and you certainly could include Dwyane Wade, Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson, among others, as playmakers on this roster. And yet, for a team that can struggle to score points, could it be that having a definitive backup behind Goran Dragic, a true NBA-level playmaker, could help get more out of the offense rather than a you-bring-it-up-this-time-and-I-got-it-next-time approach? If you had to designate a backup point among the players most likely to make the roster, I still believe that the delineation would go to Tyler Johnson. But remember, Pat Riley indicated Thursday that it remains possible the Heat take one more look at the free-agent market. And it also is possible that a veteran point guard shakes free when cut downs are made elsewhere. I am not going to overstate Jameer Nelson or Ramon Sessions of much of what remains unsigned. But I am going to remain true to the conviction that being an NBA point guard is innate. And there remains something to be said about carrying an innate veteran point guard in reserve.
Q: I don't see how a center can be engaged if you don't have a point guard in your lineup. Hassan Whiteside is playing with eight shooting guards who are all looking for their shots. Name every All-Star center and you have next to their name a good point guard. -- Bret.
A: And with the exception of his one-man fast breaks, Goran Dragic often plays like a shooting guard. You make a legitimate point, which is another reason for a veteran point guard. Yes, the Heat have plenty of playmakers, but a playmaker isn't the same as a point guard (as I now head to the position-less penalty box).
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Q: Forget the mid-level, pay Dwyane Wade whatever he wants. He's earned that from the Heat. I would do whatever it takes. -- Marc, Miami Beach.
A: I've gotten a bunch of these the past few days in the wake of Pat Riley being non-committal about the Heat offering the mid-level exception to Dwyane. So this is the reality: The Heat cannot offer Dwyane more than the $5.3 million exception. They can't do it with a signing bonus, they can't do it with a wink-wink promise of a future job, they can't go over the cap to do it. The only way the Heat could offer more would be to offer multiple years. And with the Heat most likely to be over the cap next summer, as well, perhaps the answer is some type of two-year package. The problem is that a two-year deal at the minimum removes the share the league otherwise would kick in, the share that doesn't count against the cap or tax.