Heat president Pat Riley is delighted with the progress his team made this season and believes the organization is “close” to being at a championship level again, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Riley made the comments in a video released today, saying he hopes the league will find a way to salvage the playoffs so he can see the results of moves the team made at the trade deadline.
“I think we were (41-24) or something along those lines and headed to home-court advantage in the playoffs. It was a great year,” Riley said. “I’m really disappointed that we haven’t seen the finish, especially after we made the trade when we brought in Andre Iguodala, Solomon Hill and Jae Crowder. I thought that was going to give us a little bit of an edge going into the playoffs.”
Riley pinpointed the addition of Jimmy Butler in a sign-and-trade last summer for creating a lot of optimism for the new season. Another boost came from unexpected production by rookie guards Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn, along with second-year forward Duncan Robinson.
“I’m so happy that we turned a lot of things around and we found the right players,” Riley said, “the right mix of pick-and-roll players, guys that can post up and really found a couple of guys that can shoot the ball — really shoot the ball — so we’re happy for that and we’re really optimistic about moving forward into the future with these players.”
Riley touched on a few more topics during the video:
- The Heat are running through scenarios for free agency, but everything is “up in the air” because of uncertainty over whether the season will resume. Miami has several important decisions to make, with new acquisitions Crowder and Hill both headed for free agency, along with Goran Dragic, Meyers Leonard, Derrick Jones Jr. and Udonis Haslem. In addition, Kelly Olynyk has a $13.2MM player option. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald suggests Riley’s comments are a sign that he will try to keep the team together instead of renouncing the free agents and operating under the salary cap (Twitter link).
- There’s strong support around the league for finding a way to complete the season, Riley added. He said all 30 teams have been participating in conference calls with the commissioner’s office and players union to discuss strategies. “I think that’s a very important thing for all of the franchises, complete the season even if it moves on later,” Riley said. “I think we’re all right behind Adam Silver and him waiting until he launches us back into action.”
- Riley was “stunned” when he learned that the season was being suspended in the wake of a positive coronavirus test by Jazz center Rudy Gobert, but ultimately believes it was the right decision. “We heard that a player from the Utah Jazz had tested positive,” Riley said. “But I didn’t think it was going to last that long or turn out to be what it is today for not only the Heat, but for everybody to have to shut it down. Shut the country down, shut the world down and try to fight this thing. So it was pretty innocent that night only from the standpoint that, ‘OK, we can take care of this and then we’ll be back.’ But I think Adam Silver made an incredible move, and that just sort of cascaded into a lot of other decisions by other teams and other sports and industries.”