ASK IRA: Is All-Star dunk contest an undue risk for Heat’s Jaquez?

Q: Could you explain why Jaime Jaquez Jr. would even be considered for the dunk contest? While his dunks may contain a lot of speed and force, they are usually done near the basket and he barely gets off the ground. Successful contestants usually takeoff far from the hoop and are able to elevate high above the court. – Joey, Cutler Bay.

A: To be candid, at this stage I’m less concerned about how Jaime Jaquez Jr. dunks when it comes to dunking contests and more concerned about how he has bypassed dunk attempts in his return from his groin strain. It just does not appear the explosion is all the way back, which has to create the question of whether a dunking contest would be in his, or the Heat’s, best interest at this stage. It’s one thing to play in the no-defense Rising Stars event the Friday of All-Star Weekend, but another to have to muster considerable and consistent explosion for the dunk contest during All-Star Saturday. If he wants to make statements with his dunking, then better for that to come Sunday when dunk-contest opponent Jaylen Brown and his Celtics will be at Kaseya Center.

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Q: Just wondering, do you think Duncan Robinson still is bothered by his concussion? His shot has been off since his return? – Marc.

A: Or it simply could be a lack of rhythm and repetition, since players are limited in their physical activity while in the protocol. This three-day break ahead of the Celtics game probably comes at the best time for Duncan Robinson, now that he is out of concussion protocol.

Q: I am not aware of a single other professional sports league that has a rule that teams cannot replace a player out for the year with injury. Why NBA, why? Who does this rule help? It degrades the product (i.e. the team), does not help the injured player, and prevents another player a chance at the NBA. And, most importantly, the rule that you cannot replace an injured player always seems to screw the Heat. – Andrew, Coral Gables.

A: Actually, the Heat assuredly could receive an NBA exception to replace Dru Smith’s salary following his December season-ending knee surgery. The problem is his salary remains on the books regarding the salary cap and luxury tax. As it is, the Heat have had a vacant spot on their 15-player standard roster all season. So the Heat could have replaced Dru at any point. What they can’t afford is the luxury-tax hit. In that regard, the rule sort of is you broke, you pay for it.