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ASK IRA: Are the Heat planning to go with all-guard lineups?

Q: We have a million guys 6 foot 4 and under. Part of rebalancing is fixing this. -- Ren.

A: Which is all well and good when you have defined your definitive leading men in the perimeter rotation -- which the Heat have not. When you are working in a developmental phase, you have to leave yourself open to any and all possibilities, especially when a player such as Derrick Jones Jr. is available at the minimum. But there also is the issue of affording players enough time to gain comfort in the position. As it is, you could make a case that the Heat have seven possible shooting guards for their roster (out of 15 total roster spots), when counting Jones, Josh Richardson (with no less than Pat Riley saying he is a shooting guard), Dion Waiters, Tyler Johnson, Rodney McGruder, Wayne Ellington and Dwyane Wade. Granted, you could make a case for Richardson, Jones or McGruder being able to also play small forward with their length, but we also know what such an undersized approach has looked like. Now, if Dion Waiters is not ready for the start of the season, there is less of a crunch. Yes, your best players need to play -- but only after you have defined your best players.

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Q: Good deal in signing Derrick Jones to a regular contract. He may still be a year or two out but is well worth the investment. He will follow right in Rodney McGruder's footsteps. It would be off the charts if he could play at point guard next season. Any chance of that? -- Skip, Tampa.

A: I doubt it. But to somewhat temper the answer to the above question, the Heat might be able to go with more wings simply because of the abilities of James Johnson and Justise Winslow to handle from the frontcourt. That, in essence, could allow the Heat to play shooting guards in tandem. While Josh Richardson and Tyler Johnson have handled, James Johnson and Winslow have appeared more comfortable in such playmaking roles. As for placing hope in Jones, that, as stated above, is what you do when you are in developmental mode. The price certainly was right, as are the possibilities.

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Q: I don't understand how we haven't been able to land a big-time free agent since 2009. You see all these teams getting free agents. Even a place like Oklahoma City gets free agents. But us, we stick to the same core that's going to get us sixth seed every year. -- Justin.

A: For the same reason teams don't win every game. It's all cyclical. And remember, even in the time frame you mention, the Heat were adjusting to the loss of LeBron James and the illness of Chris Bosh. But the Heat, right or wrong, also have shown a belief that James Johnson, Dion Waiters and others signed in the interim are more than throwaway additions. As I wrote in my Sunday column, it's all about cap space, which the Heat are set up to have in 2020 (and possibly as early as 2019).

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