Q: Who isn’t in the rotation at the start of the season? – Danny.
A: Um, most of the roster. Two-way players Jamal Cain and Dru Smith will likely have to wait their turn, and since each is limited to being on the active roster for up to 50 games, it might behoove the Heat to keep them inactive early. Omer Yurtseven has been out nearly two weeks with ankle pain, so that likely has him out of the mix Wednesday against the Bulls. And Udonis Haslem didn’t participate in the preseason, so there likely is little reason that would chance with the rest of the roster healthy. So that’s four of the 16 right there. Of the 12 who remain, it looks like the starters will be Bam Adebayo, Caleb Martin, Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry. And of the seven left, only Max Strus would appear locked into playing time. Otherwise, with Dewayne Dedmon it would come down to whether another center is needed (if Chicago goes big with Andre Drummond off the bench). With Duncan Robinson it could come down to whether another shooter is needed. Victor Oladipo and Gabe Vincent could prove an either/or decision. Haywood Highsmith’s chance could come down to whether the Bulls play small. And with Nikola Jovic, it’s a question of whether Erik Spoelstra deems him ready. So it makes sense how Spoelstra says his rotation could be fluid.
Q: Hi, Ira. I read your column regarding Victor Oladipo and his lackluster preseason performance and you expressed concern in terms of shot creation off the bench. Despite his age, is Nikola Jovic the option with the best passing/scoring package to resolve this? I can see him making plays for cutters like Victor, Gabe Vincent and Jamal Cain and whatever starter they mix in. Same for hitting open shooters. – Eddie, South Bend, Ind.
A: I still think too raw for when it gets so real right away, with four consecutive home games against Eastern Conference competition. Nikola Jovic’s turn is more likely to come when injuries hit elsewhere on the roster or players are given rest.
Q: I’m going to Saturday’s game but it’s a back-to-back, will everyone play? – Anthony.
A: I’m not sure I can guarantee full availability, because there always is the chance for injury in one of the two preceding games (Chicago on Wednesday, Boston on Friday). But I think it would be too early for that, considering the Heat have had the past week off. Plus, I would highly doubt that the Heat’s oldest rotation player, Kyle Lowry, would skip a game against his former team, with the Heat hosting the Raptors on Saturday and Monday.