ASK IRA: Are the World Cup odds working against a Jovic-Spoelstra championship Heat showdown?

Q: Ira, since they’re the only games in town, what’s your predictions on the semifinals at the World Cup? – Ted, Nashville.

A: Well, since the question comes from out of market, I’m not sure if the desired response was a Serbia-USA championship game Sunday that would feature the Heat’s Nikola Jovic for Serbia against Team USA, where Erik Spoelstra is an assistant coach. Based on Friday’s semifinals in the Philippines, I would think such an outcome would be unlikely. For all the Hawks’ Bogdan Bogdanovic has done for Serbia, the opponent on Friday is loaded, with Canada featuring NBA players such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Dillon Books, RJ Barrett, Lu Dort, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Dwight Powell, and even former Heat players Kelly Olynyk and Kyle Alexander. That’s a lot of talent on both ends of the floor to throw at Serbia and Jovic. As for Team USA, they have appeared to right the ship after the loss to Lithuania at the end of pool play and would appear to have a far greater depth of talent than a Germany team with Franz Wagner, Dennis Schroder, Daniel Theis and Isaac Bonga that barely got past Latvia in the quarterfinals. Plus, the Amerians will surely remember how they were pushed by Germany in a pre-Cup exhibition. So I would figure USA vs. Canada and an all North American championship game, with Spoelstra likely coming home with gold and Jovic left to play for bronze. Then again, it already has somewhat been mission accomplished by Serbia in clinching a 2024 Paris Olympics berth.

Q: The Heat are not trading for Damian Lillard. They moved on a while ago. Maybe Micky Arison considered it for a moment. But with time to think, he is not going into the second apron and repeater tax for Dame. The Heat will be over the tax until they move Kyle Lowry’s contract. – Jon.

A: First, thanks for the heads up. Second, there are ways to make a deal for Damian Lillard where the Heat send out more in 2023-24 salary than they bring back. Now, there certainly would be long-term concerns by adding Lillard’s contract to those of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. But the Heat have proven agile in eventually making all sorts of math work.

Q: Maybe it’s time for Damian Lillard and Blazers General Manager Joe Cronin to get in a room and talk as men. Cronin said some things and didn’t hold up his end of the bargain; Dame said some things and maybe this guy feels he didn’t hold up his end. Get in a room and talk and I bet he’d move Dame after. – Douglas.

A: But Damian Lillard basically has made his position crystal clear. The time for talking is over. The time for action is at hand – unless you are too faint of heart.