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ASK IRA: Did Heat depth make ancillary move moot at NBA trading deadline?

Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson celebrate as the Miami Heat defeat the Orlando Magic at the Kaseya Center in Miami on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. (Mike Stocker/South Florida ֱ)
Terry Rozier and Josh Richardson celebrate as the Miami Heat defeat the Orlando Magic at the Kaseya Center in Miami on Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024. (Mike Stocker/South Florida ֱ)
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Q: Ira, the Knicks are so deep and even the Celtics added pieces at the deadline. Don’t the Heat need to fill that open roster spot and replace Dru Smith since he is out for the season? – Ron.

A: While depth is meaningful in concept, it’s not so much in the reality that you only play five at a time and generally don’t go further than 10 deep in the regular season and likely with even fewer in the playoffs. So before citing the vacant 15th spot on the Heat’s standard roster or even the spot Dru Smith is holding after season-ending knee surgery, first consider who such players might or might not supplant. The core remains Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebyo and Tyler Herro. The next level of the rotation is Terry Rozier, Caleb Martin and Jaime Jaquez Jr. Then, from there, there are rotation roles of Kevin Love, Josh Richardson, Duncan Robinson and Haywood Highsmith. That’s 10 right there. And that’s not even getting into the wait-and-watch status of Nikola Jovic among others. Could the Heat get anyone to crack that top six of the rotation at the deadline? Highly unlikely. And even now, prudence might be required on the buyout market if the addition doesn’t supplant any of the other four in the rotation. The reality is that if you don’t go big at the deadline, there is something to be said for continuity. That might be even more true for the Heat at the moment, considering the lack of continuity to this stage.

Q: Victor Oladipo? P.J. Tucker? – Tommy.

A: Neither. At least not at the moment. God bless Victor Oladipo for all he has done in attempting to battle back from injury and surgery, but if the Heat are going to make an in-the-moment addition, it is going to be for a ready-to-go contributor. As for P.J. Tucker, he has a player option year that he is not going to walk away from, because that is the year that essentially swayed him from the Heat in free agency.

Q: Ira, sorry if you’ve written about this and I missed it, but I’ve been wondering: Why was Charlotte willing to trade Terry Rozier?  – Marc.

A: Because in the wake of their ownership change and continued losing they were willing to tear it down to the studs, basically anyone outside of Brandon Miller. That’s why not only is Terry Rozier gone, but not also Gordon Hayward and P.J. Washington. And either through the buyout market or in the offseason, expect more upheaval.

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