Q: There’s no way P.J. Tucker gives the Heat what Caleb Martin has in these last two victories (oh, and he’s 10 years younger.) The decision to let Tucker move on is looking very smart. – Ray, Deerfield Beach.
A: And yet I’m not sure that just two weeks ago the consensus wasn’t going the other way. So be careful about living too much in the moment. The question about Caleb Martin never was about whether he deserved to play, but rather whether he is a player who can be a starting power forward on a championship contender. Even Friday, for as much as Caleb achieved, the Heat also were pummeled by the Wizards on the offensive glass, an aspect that looked like it could decide the game. Yes, Caleb is a quality contributor. But is he the needed complement alongside Bam Adebayo? That requires far more than a two-game, or even two-week, sample size. P.J. Tucker was an outstanding complement.
Q: Jimmy Butler plays 30 minutes per game and he isn’t Superman. He’s 33. – Braulio.
A: Actually, Jimmy Butler is averaging at team-high 35.7 minutes per game. But, yes, he’s also 33. But the rub is that when Jimmy was 32, the Heat decided it was prudent to sign him to a four-year, $184 million extension. So there assuredly was an expectation of availability. Perhaps this knee pain is a blip the Heat move past. And perhaps those infernal ankle issues are a thing of the past (even as he refuses to tape his ankles, and is not contractually obligated to do so). But this is not setting up as a season where load management stands as manageable for the Heat in the competitive Eastern Conference. As it is, they already are in catchup mode.
Q: Ira, can the Heat bring Orlando Robinson back? – Orlando.
A: Yes, two-way contracts remain interchangeable throughout the season. But the amount of NBA days left on such a two-way contract are prorated through the season. But at the moment, Orlando Robinson again is free to be signed by any NBA team, just as the Pistons signed Micah Potter off the Heat’s G League roster last season.