Q: Has Justise Winslow’s recent play redefined his ceiling? He seems to work well at point guard. — Ethan, Miami.
A: The lack of a backup point guard, the time missed by Goran Dragic and James Johnson, Dwyane Wade’s paternity leave and even Dion Waiters’ absence have all conspired to put Justise Winslow on the ball far more often than anticipated. The question now, with Dragic, Johnson and Wade back in the rotation and with Waiters seemingly on the way, is how to keep Justise on the ball. The most likely option would be to keep him in reserve, as was the case Monday, to take over when Dragic goes out. The greater question, though, is whether he can emerge as a successor to Dragic. And the problem there is that unless Justise gets tested against starting-quality point guards, you may never get that read. For all he has done advancing the ball against nominal pressure, we have yet to get a read about Justise against a ball-hawking defender at point guard, since he mostly is being defended by forwards. So, yes, Justise as primary facilitator intrigues, but the Heat seemingly are a long way from getting to that point.
Q: The Rockets and Heat seem like possible trade partners come December 15th. The Rockets are badly missing defensive-oriented veterans like Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah A Moute. Their ability to switch on defense and space the floor was integral to Houston’s success last season. Daryl Morey has way too much money committed to two stars in their prime to not make a move and attempt to right the ship. The Rockets 100 percent will make a move. I believe this could be an opportunity for the Heat to shake things up. The Rockets don’t have the assets to acquire anyone “valuable” so James Johnson could be of interest to Houston. — Kevin.
A: Keep in mind that the Dec. 15 restriction (for players signed in the offseason) does not apply to James Johnson, since he already was under contract, so the Rockets could have already pushed for such a move, if desired. But James also has the type of contract that had Houston moving off of Trevor Ariza in the first place. I would be curious to see what would happen if another team came after Johnson but only were offering limited cap relief. That could open a window on how much the Heat truly value James going forward.
Q: Now is the time to get rid of some of the nasty salaries and let the kids continue to grow. Fun! — Douglas.
A: And easier said than done. There are not many teams that search for overpaid players that another team doesn’t want. The real question now is whether the Heat would be willing to sit those salaries.
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