ASK IRA: Has Heat’s season become predicated on lightning in a bottle?

Q: Ira, the Heat didn’t need a little trade (no offense to Terry Rozier), they needed a blow-it-up trade, and the Celtics proved that Thursday night. The Heat are not in Boston’s league and they’re certainly not in Joel Embiid’s league if he had played against them on Christmas. Don’t tell me about how Jimmy Butler is going to turn this around in the playoffs. It’s called lightning in a bottle because it happens just once. – Franklin.

A: Based on Thursday night, I can offer no counterpoint. To me, this has the feel of the Heat coming off their 2006 championship, when they expected something easier to follow. Eventually, Shaquille O’Neal simply cut and ran. So for all he said in the locker room after Thursday night’s nationally televised disgrace against the Celtics, does Jimmy Butler take it upon himself to make sure something similar doesn’t happen in Saturday’s nationally televised games in New York? Jimmy Butler is the Heat’s leading man. They need him to lead at this moment. Meander through the regular season, and the Heat might not even be as well positioned as they were at the top of last season’s play-in pack.

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Q: Hire Vic Fangio. – P.M.

A: The irony being that until Thursday night, it was as if the Heat needed an offensive coordinator, which also shows you how quickly things can change.

Q: Hi, Ira. Miami is quietly building a stash of trade chips while remaining a threat in the East amid all the other teams upgrading. Is this the best of both worlds, being able to contend this year while retaining young players that could be used in a larger trade this summer? Suddenly, missing out on Damian Lillard means we have the opportunity to trade for a much younger superstar. – Eddie.

A: I never have fully grasped this notion that as soon as you acquire a player you must then think about how you can eventually trade him? Yes, I appreciated that contracts are structured to provide flexibility, be it the final year on the contract of Kyle Lowry that was sent out or the way Duncan Robinson’s contract can fit in the sweet spot to round out a mega-trade. For now, though, it’s about seeing what works and how it can work. That was an advantage of making the Terry Rozier move two weeks before the trading deadline. And, yes, the Heat considered the possibilities of Terry’s contract being one that could be dealt before its conclusion. But what the Heat need is help now, not hope for something that might not happen.