Q: Markelle Fultz was a near-consensus number-one talent coming out of Washington, who is less than two seasons removed from being the first overall pick in the draft (and he spent almost all of last season on the sidelines, so that’s a wasted year, as far as his development). While his shot looks broken, I would take a chance on him any day, especially with the way this current Heat roster has stagnated. Besides, even with his current shot, Fultz still possesses great athleticism, has shown playmaking ability, has the length (and aforementioned athleticism) to be a good defender, and has youth on his side; he’s still only 20. You were just preaching patience for Justise Winslow, based on his youth, so why should Fultz’s situation be different? Goran Dragic, on the other hand, is on the wrong side of 30 and currently has knee issues. Consider, also, that Fultz would at least have the potential to be a part of the Heat’s plans in 2020, when they can try to lure a star. Dragic will either be let go (from his expiring contract) or signed to another contract — while in his mid-30s — at that point. The Heat have a fantastic strength and conditioning program, as well as a great development program. This, along with the current depth of the Heat roster (and, dare I say it, a possible “Tryin’ for Zion” tank) could allow Markelle to recover and (hopefully) regain his shooting form, at his own pace. Considering all of this, I would absolutely trade Goran Dragic for Fultz, “broken” shot and all. It’s called buying low and planning for the future. It would also be a respectable trade from Goran’s perspective, as he would be traded to a contender. That said, if Pat Riley could also somehow swindle a first round pick (or another young player) in such a deal, I certainly wouldn’t be upset. — Matt, Boynton Beach.
A: Look, I agree that the Heat have shown an ability to reclaim distressed property. I get that. And I also, as I’ve said with Justise Winslow, don’t believe you give up on a player in his early 20s. Where I would be careful is trading off a player who still might be able to get you something more substantive. And Dragic, either this season or next, might just draw that from a contender. As it is, with Goran holding a player option for next season, I doubt Philadelphia would move in that direction, with visions of a max free agent next summer. Now, Wayne Ellington for Fultz might work, if Wayne approves such a trade and the 76ers are game.
Q: Ira, I’m a big fan of Hassan Whiteside and definitely think he helps this team. But why on earth does he keep shooting those silly push shots in the post? Sometimes it’s as if he tries playing with finesse, when his game is based on power. Every time he shoots that push shot, he bails out the defense. — Darryl, Fitzgerald, Ga.
A: But when he attempts to power up, he all too often gets blocked. It’s as if he has lost some of his explosion. At least it seems that way. Take Tuesday’s first shot: He is a foot free and clear under the rim after a pinpoint pass from James Johnson, yet by the time he gathers and goes up, the defense is there to block that shot. Those muscles seemingly aren’t fast-twitching as they used to.
Q: Why the heck haven’t the Heat tried to add a backup point guard to cut down on all these turnovers? I don’t care who Erik Spoelstra says has “playmaking abilities,” guys do not take care of the ball the way they should, and it’s not a good sign if Goran Dragic is the lone pure point in this team. — Charlie.
A: Preaching. To. Choir. And yet “Tryin’ to Jameer” doesn’t nearly as sexy.
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