Mailbag: Is Dion Waiters part of the Heat’s future?

Do the Miami Heat need the top pick? Is Hassan Whiteside a building block in today’s NBA? Will the team re-sign Dion Waiters? We open up the mailbag.

Jan 28, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters (11) reacts after guard Wayne Ellington (not pictured) made a three point basket against the Detroit Pistons during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 116-103. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Jan 28, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat guard Dion Waiters (11) reacts after guard Wayne Ellington (not pictured) made a three point basket against the Detroit Pistons during the second half at American Airlines Arena. The Heat won 116-103. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Heat may have turned a corner this season, so what does that mean for getting one of the top picks in the upcoming NBA Draft? Does it even matter? There’s a lot of questions about the Heat’s rebuild, so Wes Goldberg and David Ramil open up the mailbag to evaluate where this roster stands, and how to improve it. The following are short answers to the mailbag questions, listen to the full podcast here for more in-depth analysis. 

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Q: The Spurs have done very well for 20 years without tanking. – LK

WG: Even the Spurs won because they had Tim Duncan, a No. 1 overall pick who was able to set the standard for the organization. They also had David Robinson, the first pick of the 1987 draft. Yes, even the Spurs needed top picks to build its dynasty. Credit them for what they were able to do in the near-two decades since, but its all built on top of Robinson and Duncan.

Q: What are your thoughts on Whiteside’s future with the Heat? If the Heat or any team wants to really try to win a ring in the next five years it has to be a team that matches up well with the Cavs and Warriors. No matter how good I think Whiteside is, I can’t see him playing late in the fourth quarter against either of those teams. – Marcus

WG: And yet Whiteside always plays well against the Warriors, and can out-rebound Tristan Thompson when playing the Cavaliers. Whiteside is able to do a very valuable thing: End possessions, either by rebounding or blocking shots. The question is, does his limited offense, tendency to slow down games and inability to guard multiple positions hinder Miami’s ceiling? Rim protection is still extremely valuable, but I think the only reason to move Whiteside is for something more valuable. Length, scoring, and versatility.

Q: If the Heat keep Dion Waiters and Goran Dragic, where does that leave Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson? Does Dion playing so well force the Heat to make a choice or is there a way for it all to work together? – Chris Leach

WG: Right now the Heat are playing three-guard lineups to get their best players on the floor, but I doubt that’s what Erik Spoelstra and Pat Riley view as the best-case scenario. With two guard spots to divvy up minutes for among those four players (not to mention Rodney McGruder and possibly Wayne Ellington next season), the Heat might be better served to allocate resources–aka money–elsewhere. In that case, the Heat might look to move the guy with the highest price tag. That would be Tyler Johnson, whose third and fourth years of the contract he signed last summer are expensive. Riley might look to get out of it early before that kicks in.

Q: Who do you expect the Heat to retain on this team next season? Do you think they will overpay for someone like Dion Waiters or James Johnson to keep them? – Jordan Maley

WG: The Heat won’t overpay. They’ll overpay for a Super Star, not those guys. Riley will have a price in mind, and may not go much higher. Look at what happened with Luol Deng and Joe Johnson. Heck, even Dwyane Wade. If a team comes in and overpays Waiters and/or Johnson, they’ll be gone. I’m not sure what team would overpay for Waiters, considering his history. I think there’s a better chance Waiters stays with the Heat next season than James Johnson, who will be 30 in February and could be looked at as a missing piece for a team willing to over-spend on one.

Q: Even if the Heat don’t get Lonzo Ball or Markelle Fultz, this draft is so deep. Can’t say I’d be disappointed if they picked a guy like Lauri Markkanen, Malik Monk, or Ivan Rabb. – Douglas Philip Yee

Me neither. I like Markannen’s stretch-4/-5 potential. Monk is a legit scorer, and Rabb can fill in nicely at the vacant 4 spot. Look, if the Heat are good enough that they end up at the tail end of the lottery, they may not need Ball or Fultz.

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