Heat president Pat Riley held a State of the Heat press conference this morning. To be honest, the State of the Heat might be more pressing than the State of the Union in basketball land. The team was built to have won this season, with the “Big Three” all having ETO (early termination options) in their contracts and the rest of the rostered players’ contracts either expiring or subject to options for next season. The only person the Heat have under contract next for season is Norris Cole, no joke.
But the Heat aren’t NBA champions. There is no parade or bottles of champagne overflowing in South Beach, just a litany of unanswered questions. Pat Riley started off the presser by saying, “Want to trend something? I’m pissed. So go ahead, get it out there.” He paused and then laughed, before adding, “I think we need to have a perspective about things. I think everybody needs to get a grip.” The darts didn’t stop there.
Riley sent some subliminals at his trio of superstars who can opt out of their contracts.
“This stuff is hard. And you got to stay together, if you got the guts. And you don’t find the first door and run out of it.”
He mentioned that he wouldn’t re-recruit the Big Three.
I’m not dropping championship rings on the table for those guys. They can drop their own.”
Miami’s roster is barren outside of those stars and Norris Cole, presuming that all three opt in. However, Riley thinks some younger pieces just need to be installed to the roster.
“What happened last year with San Antonio? They run or did they face it? We’re going to find out what we’re made of here.”
On how his interaction with players has changed now that they didn’t win a chip this year:
“I had kisses all over my face when we won. Yesterday [in exit interviews], it was just a handshake.”
Riley emphasized that he didn’t think the Big Three’s mission was complete. “I didn’t come down here 19 years ago for a quick trip to South Beach and a sun tan. And I don’t think they did either.” He added, without any specific knowledge, that he would be very surprised if Wade isn’t with Heat next season and insisted that owner Mickey Arison “will do anything to get those guys to come back,” nodding to the fact that Arison has never shied away from paying the luxury tax, though the team would be subject to a new repeater tax this season. Riley went so far as to refer to a Big Three departure as his “worst nightmare.”
Then Riley went on to defend his players. They played Ray Allen 26.4 minutes per game in the playoffs this season, a bit too much for a 38 year-old who was much better in his reserve role last season. On Allen, Riles admitted, “we probably asked a little bit too much of him.”
The biggest target post-Finals has been Dwyane Wade, who looked visibly gassed in Game 5 despite having been judiciously rested throughout the regular season. Riley admonished the press to cut all of the Dwyane Wade-to-another-team talk right now, but didn’t rule out a change to his play.
“He’s a champion. He’s a world champion and he’s a Miami Heat for life. I would be very surprised if he were anywhere else but a Heat uniform next year,” Riley said. “It’s unfair for Dwyane to be questioned. Now, does he have to reinvent himself a little bit? Absolutely.”
Riley added that head coach Erik Spoelstra was another team member with a summer directive. “He will reinvent himself in whatever way possible to make this team better.”
Other things we learned from Riley:
- he has “a texting relationship” with LeBron.
- LeBron and his wife are expecting a baby girl.
- Riles isn’t a fan of the draft. He said he’s glad he’s not in the lottery and would rather grab a player after he’s developed.
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