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ASK IRA: Could Heat turn Tyler Johnson into J.R. Smith’s favorable contract?

Q: Let’s see what the “cap experts” in Miami do with the news about J.R. Smith. With only $3.8 million guaranteed for next year out of $15.6 million, we should be jumping all over this. — Tony.

A: As might several others teams in order to play such a get-out-of-salary-cap-jail card. In that regard, because of the favorable cap advantages, I would expect that whatever team is able to trade for J.R. also will have to include a significant sweetener, likely a quality draft pick. And that is something, in need of their own makeover, that the Heat cannot afford. That said, if the Cavaliers would want to take a shot on Tyler Johnson’s dormant potential, I am sure the Heat would do so in a heartbeat, possibly even with some sort of minimal sweetener. I’m also not sure that the team that trades for J.R. doesn’t do exactly what the Cavaliers are doing at the moment, and that is asking J.R. to remain at home.

Q: Still have absolutely no clue why Erik Spoelstra insists on burning two-way players’ days just to have them sit on the bench. Can you please add some enlightenment to this serious brain freeze? — Skip, Tampa

A: If nothing else, it shows that the Heat, despite all the tanking swirl, are playing these games to win, protecting themselves with depth in case of injury or foul trouble. With the Heat operating with a 14-player roster, one below the NBA maximum, it is possible that either Duncan Robinson or Yante Maten, or perhaps even both, are upgraded to standard contracts this season, which then would allow the Heat to potentially add an option year to their deals and protect themselves during free agency.

Q: Erik Spoelstra’s position-less basketball approach doesn’t produce leading men, but an ensemble approach. We’ve seen the Celtics underachieve this season using the position-less strategy with genuine All-Star talent. So far Spo’s ensemble mantra has disappointed fans and players alike. — Leonard, Cornelius, N.C.

A: Equal-opportunity basketball is not the same as position-less. You play position-less when you have players of equal skills and equal abilities. That essentially defines the current Heat roster. For that matter, the Heat have not been equal opportunity this season, featuring Josh Richardson. And I’m sure Dion Waiters is salivating that leading-man status could yet be in his future. The Heat, at this stage, would embrace anyone willing to step forward and make plays. It is part of the reason for the relief with Dwyane Wade’s return. But as Tuesday showed, more is still needed. Scoring remains an issue. Follow him at or

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