Q: Jimmy Butler’s shelf life with all his past teams has been about three years. This dust-up Wednesday night only goes to show you. When can we start the Jimmy Butler-for-Bradley Beal trade talks? – Greg, Jacksonville.
A: Really, that’s where we’re going after a single animated moment amid a rough patch for the Heat? In these cases, it’s not about what happens in the moment, it’s about what happens in the ensuing moments. So this, in many ways, is an incident with a story that has yet to be fully written. Of course, after Monday night’s loss to the shorthanded 76ers, we thought the pushback would come on Wednesday night against the Warriors. Not even close. So this is about more than Jimmy Butler or his moods. This is about a team that has held itself to a higher standard all season now seeing whether the foundation is cracked. This moment is not about Jimmy. This moment is about the entire roster and, yes, the coaching staff. When the going gets tough, where does this Heat team go? Last season, when the going to rough against the Bucks in the playoffs, the Heat wilted.
Q: I feel like the Heat are a team in freefall, a team that thinks they have already done enough winning to be in the playoffs. Team after good team slaps the Heat around and the Heat attitude is a bored yawn. It reminds me of last season’s ending. – Roland, Borrego Springs, Calif.
A: I agree that the Heat seemingly reached a point where the regular season had grown tiresome, something we’re seeing across the league. So now, at a time when teams might be easing to the finish line, there can be no coasting. There are now nine games to get this right, with all games likely to have playoff-seeding meaning. And challenges certainly loom, with games remaining before the playoffs against the Nets, Celtics, Bulls and Raptors, among others. Who are the Heat? With three weeks remaining before the playoffs, I’m not certain anyone involved is sure.
Q: Udonis Haslem’s couch coaching was bound to agitate someone at some point. – Wendy, Orlando.
A: And you can tell that the moment had a significant impact on Udonis Haslem the remainder of the night, as he sat on the end of the bench, not his typical demonstrative self, rarely rising during the course of play. But that is what happens when you have strong-willed players. So now it will be seen whether the moment was a one-off, or if there perhaps is instruction, behind the scenes, to tone down the exhortations on a roster with so many proven veterans.