At any point, had Pat Riley dropped the lotion and listened to the thousands of people who said, “Hey, when you guys play a team with a great point guard, isn’t going to be difficult and exhausting for your best player to have to chase them for 40 minutes a night?” the Heat would have a point guard, Wade would guard the two and LeBron the three. And, had he spent a little more time scouting for young, developmental players the bench wouldn’t be filled with folks who could be on an episode of “NBA: Dead or Alive?” Players like Juwan Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, Jamaal Magloire and, you know, “veterans” like Eddie House.
Who are these thousands of people? People were complaining about the ethics of bringing together the team, not the mechanics. I heard exactly no one, at the time that this whole deal was coming off, complain that the Heat were being insufficiently attentive to the needs of finding a point guard. Nor were people exactly angry about the acquisition of veterans—truth is, to anyone even vaguely familiar with the NBA salary cap rules, savvy veterans were just about the only thing that was affordable, due to the veteran’s minimum. If there are young players available, and they fit in your cap space, chances are it is because they suck. The problem with these veterans is not that they are good, but that, because of injury, they are being forced into roles that require them to be good. Eddie House should only be running around shooting threes, and that’s it. The Heat are in this respect just another team, which may be depressingly banal for everyone involved.
In fact, if anything, the Heat have shown too much devotion to the idea of a traditional lineup. Somehow the “pure” point guard Carlos Arroyo gets starting minutes burn when it is beyond clear to everyone—it was clear from the very first game of the season—that Carlos Arroyo is not very good: he does not penetrate, he does not defend, and most critically, he does not shoot. The Heat need shooters; fortunately they have some that are healthy—Eddie House, James Jones—but refuse to play them. In this, at long last, they have run out of nerve. What they should be doing is this: use LeBron—or Dwyane—as the point guard. Nontraditional, yes, but the whole point—up until now—is to break the rules. But they have not; they have run out of courage. If they were the French during their Revolution, they would not execute the King. If they were cruel industrialists during the Industrial Revolution, they would stop building machines after the Luddites smashed them. Right now, they are rebels without a revolution.