ASK IRA: Is Heat angst regarding Jimmy Butler best reserved for more meaningful moments?

Q: Looking at the other end of his 30s and being taken out with two leg injuries in succession, do you think we can say now that Jimmy Butler is starting to regress? Is conservative playing time enough to keep him in proper shape for the playoff run we need? And even if so, how much time might he have left as our star player? – Brandon, Hollywood.

A: I still believe the only way and the only time to take stock of Jimmy Butler is in the playoffs. So, yes, if there is a repeat of 2021, when the Heat were swept out of the first round by Milwaukee, then, yes, red flag. But based on three of the last four postseasons for the Heat, it all remains a waiting game. Jimmy has made clear the significance, or lack thereof, he has placed on the regular season. It’s all part of the Butler package. So you take these absences with the knowledge that something better almost always follows. I just don’t see Jimmy as a trade-deadline component. Cohesion for a win-now team can be too delicate to interrupt beyond midseason. So it’s best to wait for the playoffs, then his incoming extension request that follows, and then weigh all the components at that point. All of this drama just seems premature.

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Q: To quote the great Darvin Ham, we’ve got to get healthy. We won’t know what we truly have until we are healthy. – Jon.

A: Actually, I think the Heat do know what they have when healthy, and how they appreciate that Caleb Martin and Haywood Highsmith are far more essential than might be perceived from the outside. Put Martin and Highsmith back into the mix, and the Heat have enough perimeter deterrence to avoid the crutch of constantly turning to zone defense for salvation. And, so, we wait.

Q: Purple-shirt guy better be at Dwyane Wade’s Hall of Fame celebration night. – Sam.

A: Well, they are playing the Hornets that night, next Sunday, so it would be fitting. Perhaps the best of all worlds would be for Dwyane Wade to come out that night with a purple shirt of his own. He is one, after all, known for making unique fashion statements.