Although the Heat are cap-strapped for now, they have long targeted the summer of 2021 as a time to potentially make a big splash. Maintaining cap flexibility for that offseason is one reason why the team has been unwilling to make a play for Chris Paul, whose contract extends through 2022.
Speaking today to reporters, Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley spoke about that idea of retaining flexibility for 2021 while also leaving the door open to potentially upgrade a team that’s off to a 9-3 start this season.
“Right now, we’re in the present moment,” Riley said, per Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “We can manage all the flexibility that we need depending on how we see the team perform. I’m patient but if something happens and it can make a huge difference, I’m all for it. If not, we’ll wait.”
Riley, who said he’s “pleased” with his team’s performance so far and is “cautiously optimistic” about Miami’s outlook going forward, addressed several other topics during his conversation with reporters today. Here are a few of the highlights, via Jackson’s round-up:
- Responding to the suggestion that the Heat’s current roster pieces fit together nicely, Riley agreed, though he suggested that’s something the front office will continue to monitor. “They fit until they don’t. Some nights, it looks like nothing fits. But right now, Spo (Erik Spoelstra) has exactly what he needs for how he wants to play,” Riley said. “… When we signed Jimmy Butler, I knew we were going to be as good or maybe better. Now much better would be dependent on other factors, the performances of other players. Was Meyers Leonard going to fit in? Our young players. The development of Bam (Adebayo) and Justise (Winslow). You just go on and on. So yes, I’m pleased.”
- Riley declined to predict what might happen with players like Goran Dragic, Derrick Jones, and Leonard reaching free agency in 2020, reiterating that the club is living in “the present moment” and indicating those decisions will be made down the road.
- Riley didn’t specifically address the Dion Waiters situation, but said it’s “always disappointing” to have to discipline players. “There has not been a year in my career there has not been adversity and you deal with it,” Riley said. “… It’s been dealt with. We’ll move on, as we have.”
- The Heat have traded away multiple future first-round picks, but Riley doesn’t mind just having a first-rounder every other year as long as his club is consistently making the playoffs. “Let’s say a great team is (drafting) 20 to 30 – you are in top 10 (in the NBA standings) – let’s say you are there,” Riley said. “I think a draft pick every other year is good. I never had a chance to really get a lot of lottery picks. I’ve been lucky to have great players.”
- Riley is pleased that the Heat haven’t had to truly bottom out since the days of their Big Three, though he acknowledges that it took a few seasons to retool the roster and regain assets: “We were not in a desperation mode. … [But] it took time to create the capital – draft capital, monetary capital, health capital – to do certain things.”