Pat Riley Speaks On State Of Heat

James Johnson and Dion Waiters would be entering free agency if things had gone differently for the Heat in the summer of 2017, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald.

At a press conference today, team president Pat Riley said he would have signed both players for two seasons instead of four if Miami had been able to land free agent targets Kevin Durant or Gordon Hayward. Once Durant picked the Warriors and Hayward signed with the Celtics, Riley agreed to longer contracts with both Johnson and Waiters.

“On July 1, I didn’t want to be left with nobody,” he said. “After five days of Gordon having to make a decision, I didn’t want to lose some players we had. I do know James had a deal [elsewhere if Miami didn’t sign him]. It was my decision. I didn’t want to lose all three of them.”

That decision left the Heat with two more expensive contracts that could help push the team $35MM above the cap next season, assuming Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic both opt in.

“We weren’t thinking of room after we lost Kevin Durant and Hayward,” Riley said. “We were thinking we had that 30-11 team come back [Miami’s record in the second half of the 2016/17 season]. We thought the contracts we gave were long-term contracts. That’s on me. You can put that all on me. We didn’t land Hayward and I didn’t want [to lose] the other two guys.”

Riley covered a wealth of topics during today’s session with the media. Here are a few, courtesy of Jackson and Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald:

  • Even if the Lakers were to make an offer, Riley won’t consider going to L.A. to take over for Magic Johnson. “There’s no doubt that I have a history with that team,” he said. “I have a lot of friends inside the organization. … But I’m not going to be a part of that.”
  • Riley wants coach Erik Spoelstra to find ways to get Whiteside and Bam Adebayo on the court at the same time. Despite being Miami’s highest-paid player, Whiteside averaged just 17 minutes per night over the final 19 games.
  • Riley said Waiters was slowed all season after ankle surgery and was “playing this year on 1 1/2 ankles.” He added that conditioning will be vital for Waiters next season. “I talked to him yesterday,” Riley said. “He knows. He has five months. If he gets his conditioning to world class condition, he can get back [to where he was for 25 excellent games two years ago]. I’m confident he will do it. His career is on the line.”
  • No matter what happens, tanking won’t be part of the Heat’s plans, Riley insists, noting how hard it is to fall into the bottom five in the league.
  • Riley encourages Udonis Haslem to take some time to decide whether he wants to return next season. Haslem has barely played over the past three years, but the Heat are willing to give him a roster spot for the veteran leadership he provides.
  • Duncan Robinson and Yante Maten, who were both signed through 2020/21 in the closing days of the season, may have a future with the team. “I give Duncan and Yante As,” Riley said. “They dominated the [G-League] the way you want them to dominate. That was the best team in the league for a while. We think both of them can develop and you don’t know how far they can go.”
  • Unless they get lucky in the lottery, the Heat will have the 13th pick in the draft, but Riley is optimistic they can find a contributor there. “I am not going to name names, but I’ve seen 30 players that are very good players,” he said. “At 13, I do think we would get something equivalent to who we have on our team right now, Bam, Justise [Winslow], Josh [Richardson] and Derrick Jones Jr.
  • Riley called Dwyane Wade‘s final season “pure love” as the Heat said goodbye to their all-time leading scorer.
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11 thoughts on “Pat Riley Speaks On State Of Heat

  1. Guest617

    without a super star the most overrated coach/gm: Riley or Phil Jackson?

    • sportsfan101

      I think it’s pretty equal, neither have been able to replicate what they did with James and co and Kobe and co

    • hiflew

      I think it is more of a commentary of how overrated the position of head coach is in the NBA. My mother could probably coach the Warriors to a 50 win season and she knows nothing about basketball.

    • Reflect

      I don’t think Phil is overrated as a coach. He was awful as a GM but he did a good job coaching. Riley really hasn’t done anything except ride the D-Wade train.

  2. x%sure

    Between the Herald writers, Chaing hit the highlights, but Jackson noted that somebody actually asked Riley about taking over the Lakers. But, he didn’t indicate he thought that idea funny (it is). I guess Jackson is wisely unwilling to anger a key source in Riley.

    Nobody made Jason Richardson mad either.
    Apparently nobody asked Riley, why he gave up pursuit of Jimmy Butler, even though he talked about the importance of having a ‘transcendent’ player.

  3. HubcapDiamondStarHalo

    “…noting how hard it is to fall into the bottom five in the league.”

    What a sad state of affairs… so many teams tanking that it’s actually become difficult to be among the worst, even if you try to.

  4. Z-A

    The Heat roster is just a bunch of role players. Plain n simple. No true Alpha, no matter what Waiters says ab himself. Basically they are SOL bc they cant add any premier FA. Or any FA at all actually.

  5. D$!LLKU$H-og

    At least Pat has Ryan Anderson’s untradable contract instead of Tyler Johnson’s possibly tradable contact. And instead of having Macgruder he doesn’t have Macgruder (cut to avoid the luxury tax..He should’ve traded him at the deadline for a future 2nd or 2). He’s got no 1st in 2021. I don’t think he has a 2nd til like 2023 or 2024. A roster full of overpaid role players. No cap space for another year. Well, there’s always the year after next year Pat.

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