ASK IRA: Could Plan B cost the Heat less than Damian Lillard?

Q: Ira, this is not totally original but I don’t know if it can be said any better. Please share your thoughts on this: Damian Lillard is overpriced. No need to give up the farm for a soon-to-be 34-year-old guard that plays no defense and who at age 35 and 35 will be making $59 million and $63 million per year, with zero trade value. At the February deadline, Miami can likely get DeMar DeRozan for a first-round pick and nothing else, because he becomes an unrestricted free agent in June. What would you rather have, Damian Lillard alone or Tyler Herro, Jaime Jaquez Jr., Nikola Jovic, Caleb Martin, Duncan Robinson, and No. 1 draft choices, as you only gave up one to get DeRozan? Think about it. I’d rather have DeRozan plus all the things the Heat do not have to give up. Even if they can’t get DeRozan, other quality guards will be available. – Steve, Dandridge, Tenn.

A: A lot to unpack here, but I appreciate the thought that went into this.Just because the going has been tough when it comes to the delay in a possible deal for Damian Lillard, let’s not degenerate the player. First, he does not turn 34 until next summer. Plus, the one thing we’ve learned is that there is no such thing as an untradeable player. Beyond that, don’t get caught up in salaries, because the going rate could change dramatically with the next broadcast/streaming deal. To your other point, DeMar DeRozan is a quality, All-Star talent, but also not the player or positional fit as Damian Lillard. And then there is the bird-in-hand part of the equation. We know that Lillard is available, even if the asking price at the moment is exorbitant. We can’t be as sure with DeMar, especially in light of the way the Bulls reupped this summer with Nikola Vucevic. At this point, does anyone truly know what the Bulls are doing? Beyond that, by waiting until the February trading deadline, you are putting a half season on hold for Jimmy Butler. But you do raise an interesting point of how assets can be salvaged if the approach instead is the contract of Kyle Lowry and a pick at the February NBA trading deadline. It is something worth considering when it comes to overall roster construction (even if it also creates a significant tax burden).

Q: Nikola Jovic has looked very average as the World Cup has continued. – Seve.

A: Which also coincides with the level of competition rising. What Nikola Jovic has shown in recent games is that he can play as a complementary component on a high level. At this stage, considering Nikola is just 20, that’s all the Heat can ask. There is plenty of upside and growth remaining for the versatile big man taken at No. 27 in the 2022 NBA draft.

Q: Ira, if Team USA doesn’t win the World, does Erik Spoelstra get to coach in the Olympics? – Env.

A: Based on how Team USA looked Tuesday in the quarterfinals against Italy, I wouldn’t make any assumption of impending failure at the World Cup. Yes, the United States did not look good in Sunday’s loss to Lithuania, but clearly stepped up once the knockout round began. And I would assume that the current coaching staff will get first choice on whether to move forward for the 2024 Paris Olympics, regardless of the results at the World Cup. The World Cup roster is hardly the best of the best of the U.S., which generally tends to arrive for the Olympics.