Heat president Pat Riley spoke today in front of fans and media personnel, answering questions about the team’s reported pursuit of Jimmy Butler, his decision to address the players, and where the team currently stands from a competitive viewpoint. Riley made his comments at an event created to help renovate the homes of two veterans, with the longtime Heat executive being joined by Glen Rice, Alonzo Mourning, and others.
“I’m not looking, I’m listening and [general manager Andy Elisburg] and I are … we’ve been doing this all the time,” Riley said, according to Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald. “We’re not actively pursuing anything, we’re listening. But you have to be part of what’s going on in the conversation in the NBA, and there’s a lot of hypotheticals from that standpoint.”
Riley also added that he “never called anybody with an offer, but there’s always conversations — probably more Andy than myself because he loves to talk. So he has a brethren out there, and his brethren are great. He’s got 29, 30 GMs that they all like to talk, and so they need to talk to one another. You listen, and I think that’s how things happen is you just sort of listen.”
The Heat nearly reached agreement on a Butler trade with the Timberwolves last month, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, but the deal fell apart shortly before completion. With rumors swirling and players’ names surfacing in reports, Riley made the decision to pull the plug for the time being. He made his plans known to Heat players and assured them they would remain with the team.
“I think it was important. It was about time,” Riley said when asked why he addressed the team. “I let it go for about two weeks, but it was all over the board and when things get out publicly like that, I think your players and names start to hit, you’ve got to talk to them. I always talk to the agents first, but I thought at that time it was best just to sort of, ‘Let’s get the season started. We’re not going to do anything. We shut the thing down, and this is where we are with it.’”
The Heat have started the 2018/19 season with a 5-5 record, and could revisit the Butler talks down the road. For the time being, however, it certainly appears the team isn’t pursuing a trade for Butler or any other player.