Pat Riley

Heat Notes: Tucker, Collins, Riley, Draft Pick

Veteran forward P.J. Tucker has only played one season with the Heat, but that’s all he’s needed to make a positive impression on the team, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes. Tucker was an efficient two-way starter for the Heat this season, impressing coaches and teammates alike with his effort, leadership and passion.

“Man, I was surprised at just how hard and how consistent and just how tough P.J. is,” team captain Udonis Haslem said of Tucker. “There are very few guys that I feel like approach the game every night the way I did, you know what I’m saying. P.J. just happened to be one of them.”

Tucker fits well alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in the Heat’s frontcourt. At 6’6″ and 245 pounds, he’s versatile, strong defensively and owns championship experience. He also shot an efficient 41.5% from three-point range this season, which is important since Butler and Adebayo don’t thrive from distance.

Here are some other notes from Miami:

  • In his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines whether it would make sense for the Heat to trade for Hawks star John Collins. Atlanta lost to Miami in five games during the first round, finishing its disappointing season with a 43-39 record. If the team explores Collins’ trade value, Miami could dangle Duncan Robinson‘s contract in discussions. It’s reasonable to assume Atlanta would target Tyler Herro in a potential deal.
  • In a separate article for the Sun Sentinel, Ira Winderman explores whether Heat president Pat Riley has enough trade pieces to improve the roster. In addition to Herro, Miami also has young center Omer Yurtseven and multiple first-round picks at its disposal, including the No. 27 selection this year.
  • Speaking of the Heat’s first-round pick, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald explores what it would take for the team to trade it. The Heat lost their second-rounder as a result of last year’s tampering investigation into the Kyle Lowry sign-and-trade, so the team currently has one pick in this year’s draft. Miami finished as the No. 1 seed this season and dealt with key injuries throughout the playoffs, losing to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals 4-3.

Pat Riley Address Offseason, Herro, Lowry, Tucker, Retirement

Heat president Pat Riley is generally happy with the current roster but is open to acquiring another impact player if the right trade comes along, Nick Friedell of ESPN relays.

“I like the team that we have,” Riley said. “I like the core, so let’s see where we can go internally and let’s see where we can go if something presents itself. If that’s a viable option.”

As for acquiring another star, Riley wants to make sure that player will fit into the team’s culture, not to mention future payroll, Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald writes.

“If there’s something from outside that unveils itself that doesn’t cost us an arm and a leg, I would always be interested in looking at that,” he said. “But I think we have what we need internally.”

Riley held his annual postseason press conference on Monday. Friedell and Chiang have the details on numerous topics that Riley addressed:

  • Responding to Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro expressing his desire to become a starter, Riley said he’s got to earn it by improving defensively. “He’s 22, he’s 21, 22 years old so the next step for him, and I think we’re seeing this in the league, if you want to win a championship, and you want to be a starter, you really have to become a two-way player today,” Riley said. “And you have to improve in certain areas of your game.”
  • Kyle Lowry needs to improve his conditioning, in Riley’s assessment. “The bottom line with me and for me as far as hoping that you can get the most out of a player — is that you got to be in world-class shape. You just have to be,” he said.
  • P.J. Tucker has a $7.35MM player option for 2022/23 and if he turns it down, Riley will try to re-sign the veteran forward. “P.J. is a cornerstone,” Riley said. “I would love to have Tuck back next year. He’s part of our core. He’s special.”
  • The sting of losing Game 7 to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals hasn’t dissipated. “We have a lot of real experienced veterans and so we put together a team that got to the Eastern Conference finals and it was bitter, it was a bitter loss,” he said. “The dragon hasn’t actually left my body yet from that loss.”
  • Retirement is not on Riley’s agenda. “I’m 77 years old and right now I can do more pushups than you can do right now,” he said.

Southeast Notes: Hawks, Hornets, Riley, Butler

The 3-3 Hawks have yet to recapture the momentum that propelled them to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, writes Chris Kirschner of The Athletic. With an intimidating schedule coming up in which Atlanta will play several 2021 playoff teams, Kirschner offers his thoughts on how the club can adjust.

While forwards Cam Reddish and John Collins have exhibited plenty of growth, other key Hawks players have struggled a bit. Point guard Trae Young is struggling to adjust to the league’s new free throw rules, while shooting guard Kevin Huerter is struggling to connect from deep.

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The Hornets have already enjoyed a promising start to the 2021/22 season, writes Roderick Boone of the Charlotte Observer. New additions Ish Smith and Kelly Oubre have fit in well thus far, with Oubre connecting on a solid 35.7% of his three-point looks. 2022 restricted free agent forward Miles Bridges has taken his scoring to borderline All-Star heights, and Boone is pegging his future contract in the $100MM vicinity. When it comes to perimeter depth, Boone observes that Cody Martin, Jalen McDaniels, and Nick Richards are also improving.
  • The hot start of the Heat has Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel wondering if team president Pat Riley has finally nailed the club’s supporting lineup around All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. The club has wholly recalibrated its frontcourt depth around Adebayo, and the early results have paid dividends thus far. The addition of former Raptors All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry has made a huge defensive impact on Miami, though his offense is struggling so far. Sixth man Tyler Herro also appears to have taken a leap in his third season.
  • Heat All-Star swingman Jimmy Butler has thrived alongside new addition Kyle Lowry. Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald wonders if Butler has been newly maximized as a player alongside the former six-time All-Star point guard.

Eastern Notes: Heat Roster, Bosh, Simmons, Clifford

Now that the Heat have significantly reshaped their roster in the offseason, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel examines how willing Miami is to add a 15th player. Though Winderman allows that there are still players in free agency whose additions could improve the on-court product, he notes luxury tax worries could preclude the Heat from adding someone just yet. Winderman adds that a future trade could be the club’s route to making further roster tweaks changes instead.

The Heat’s most significant offseason change was undoubtedly the epic sign-and-trade agreement with 35-year-old veteran point guard Kyle Lowry. Miami also added versatile forward P.J. Tucker, fresh off a title run with the Bucks, and big man Markieff Morris, in addition to re-signing sharpshooter Duncan Robinson, reserve centers Dewayne Dedmon and Omer Yurtseven (though Yurtseven did not play a game with the Heat, he was on the roster at the end of the 2020/21 season), and guards Victor OladipoMax Strus and Gabe Vincent. Additionally, Miami inked All-NBA swingman Jimmy Butler to a lucrative maximum contract extension.

There’s more out of the East:

  • 2021 Hall of Fame inductee Chris Bosh could very well have wound up with the Bulls in 2010 free agency. Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel explores the Heat‘s backup plans had the club been unable to secure Bosh’s services. Winderman reveals that, at one point during the 2010 free agent hunt, Bosh relayed to an NBA executive that he would be joining Chicago. Had that transpired, Miami would have pivoted to adding some of the other All-Stars available that summer. “If, in fact, C.B. would have gone somewhere else, we had been recruiting Amar’e [Stoudemire] and we had recruited Joe Johnson,” Heat team president Pat Riley said of his next contingency moves. “It could have worked with Dwyane [Wade] and with LeBron [James], that that team would have been successful. But I don’t know if it would have been as successful as it was with Chris, because Chris was the ultimate complement.”
  • There is currently no end in sight for the Sixers‘ standoff with All-Star Ben Simmons. During a podcast conversation with Darren Wolfson of SKOR North, Brian Windhorst of ESPN indicated that he expects Simmons to remain away from the team through at least the start of the forthcoming 2021/22 NBA season.
  • Newly-added Nets coaching consultant Steve Clifford recently explained his anticipated role with the club, per Ernie Clark of the Bangor Daily News. “I’m here [in Brooklyn] a lot this month and through training camp, and I’ll be more of a resource,” Clifford said. “I’ll be watching a lot of film but most of the time I’ll still be living in Orlando. I’ll visit with the team once or twice a month and just take direction from [head coach] Steve Nash, whatever he wants me to do.” Clifford was previously a head coach with the Magic and Hornets across the past eight NBA seasons.

Southeast Notes: Dragic, Heat, Unseld, Hornets

Goran Dragic has been with the Heat for over six seasons, and has played some of the best basketball of his career in Miami. He was arguably the third-best player during the Heat’s run to the Finals last season before a foot injury limited him to two games against the Lakers. But the 35-year-old point guard is coming off an injury-plagued season and owed over $19MM next season.

According to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Heat don’t want to trade Dragic this offseason. But if a deal for a star presents itself, the team would be willing to do so.

We have more news from around the Southeast Division:

  • The Heat have traded away both their picks in this year’s draft, but that hasn’t stopped team president Pat Riley for setting the edict to the scouting department to find and secure useful players from the draft, writes Winderman. “We don’t have any picks, but I can guarantee you we’ll probably get a couple of good players out of this year’s draft, somehow,” Riley said at the end of the season. The Heat have a track record of landing productive players like Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson despite scant draft resources. They’ll try to repeat history this year.
  • Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald looks at how the Olympics experience could help the Heat‘s Nigerian trio of Gabe Vincent, KZ Okpala and Precious Achiuwa. Team Nigeria has been dominant during exhibition games, but if they don’t make the medal round, it’s possible the three young players will be back in Las Vegas for Summer League, looking to build off the momentum and confidence they’ve gained from this experience.
  • Wes Unseld Jr. is not just a familiar name, he’s also an experienced coach who has paid his dues, writes Fred Katz in a piece for The Athletic on the Wizards’ newest head coach. Katz writes that Unseld sold the Wizards based not only on his track record, but also on ideas for how to better utilize star Bradley Beal and last season’s lottery pick Deni Avdija.
  • The Hornets are working out six prospects today, per a tweet from the team: Derrick Alston Jr., Ian Dubose, Romeao Ferguson, Ariel Hukporti, Carlik Jones, and Ruot Monyyong. The Hornets have the 56th and 57th picks in the draft, the range in which most of said prospects may be available.

Pat Riley Fined $25K By NBA For Tampering Violation

Heat president Pat Riley has been fined $25K for violating the NBA’s anti-tampering rule, the league announced today in a press release. The fine is a result of Riley’s recent comments about former Heat star LeBron James.

As we relayed earlier this week, Riley made his comments during a casual appearance on a live stream hosted by Dan Le Batard (video link). A glass of wine in hand during his appearance, the Heat president actually misinterpreted a question about whether he was still leaving a “key under the door mat” for Dwyane Wade, who is now a part-owner of the Jazz. Riley thought the question was in reference to James.

“LeBron, look, he’s one of the greatest of all time, and for four years down here, if we want to go back and remember what those four years were like, it was four years in the Finals, four years of excitement, two world championships… It was the best time for the Heat,” Riley said. “So I wish him nothing but the best, and if he ever wanted to come back, I’ll put a new shiny key under the mat.”

Riley seemed immediately aware he’d said too much about the current Lakers star, stating that his comments on LeBron “will just get me fined.” Still, a $25K penalty essentially amounts to a slap on the wrist when it comes to tampering violations, so the NBA is implicitly acknowledging that Riley’s violation was minor.

By comparison, Daryl Morey and the Sixers were each hit with a $75K fine earlier this week as a result of a two-word Morey tweet responding to Warriors star Stephen Curry. Morey tweeted, “Join ’em,” in reply to Curry’s post about his brother, Sixers guard Seth Curry.

Pat Riley Talks LeBron, Butler, Ainge, His Own Future

Making an appearance on Dan Le Batard’s’s ‘Le Batard and Friends’ stream on Friday (video link), Heat president Pat Riley addressed a handful of topics, including his own future and Jimmy Butler‘s relationship with Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra and the rest of the coaching staff.

Perhaps most interestingly, Riley spoke about former Heat star LeBron James, addressing whether he’d continue to leave a “key under the doormat” for James in the event that the four-time MVP wanted to return to Miami. Riley acknowledged that such a scenario is unlikely and joked that the key would be “rusted” by now, but said he’d welcome back the superstar forward who helped lead the franchise to four straight NBA Finals from 2011-14.

“LeBron, look, he’s one of the greatest of all time, and for four years down here, if we want to go back and remember what those four years were like, it was four years in the Finals, four years of excitement, two world championships… It was the best time for the Heat,” Riley said, per Peter Botte of The New York Post. “So I wish him nothing but the best, and if he ever wanted to come back, I’ll put a new shiny key under the mat.”

Executives around the NBA have received fines for violating the league’s anti-tampering policy for comments similar to Riley’s, so it’s reasonable to assume commissioner Adam Silver will take a long look at Riley’s statement. After discussing LeBron, Riley noted that those comments “will just get me fined,” as Botte relays.

With the help of Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel, here are a few of other noteworthy tidbits from the longtime Heat president of basketball operations:

On a report that there were some “testy moments” between Jimmy Butler and the Heat’s coaching staff this season:

“It’s normal. … Look, throughout my career as a coach, there wasn’t one player on any team that I ever coached, a key player, that I didn’t have disagreements with, didn’t have yelling and screaming matches with, and whether it was Alonzo Mourning or Magic Johnson or James Worthy or Patrick Ewing or whoever, LeBron, Dwyane, Chris. That’s just the way it is. And if it’s too nice and too quiet, then you want to create something where there’s tension. Otherwise, you’re going to be apathetic at what you’re doing all the time.”

On Danny Ainge stepping down from his role as Celtics’ president of basketball operations:

“I wish him the best. I have no hate in my heart, except for the Shamrock. But all of the people I competed against in Boston all those years, I wish Danny nothing but the best. He’s had 18 years up there. Believe me, I know how hard it is to do this stuff. So, he’s free of whatever it is he wants to get away from.”

On whether Riley would’ve considered retiring if the Heat had won the Finals in 2020:

“No… At my particular age, I feel that I have a lot more left, a lot of energy, and I feel like I’ve got a sharp mind. I know, over 60 years, I’ve collected a lot of wisdom and a reservoir of knowledge about what it takes to win and what kind of players we want, and all of that stuff. So I’m not in any hurry to go anywhere else other than, right now, on vacation and then come back and try to win a championship for the Heat. That’s what we do.”

Pat Riley Talks Free Agency, 2021 Rookies, Bam, Oladipo, Future

Heat team president Pat Riley addressed the club’s present and future during his yearly season-ending press conference today, as Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald details.

Following a surprising NBA Finals run within the 2020 restart season’s Orlando “bubble” campus last year, expectations were high for Miami this season. However, many of the team’s key players battled injuries and COVID-19 exposure, and the Heat suffered a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Bucks. The loss of forward Jae Crowder in free agency, plus some compensatory signing missteps, also contributed to a disappointing 2020/21 season.

When asked about how he wants to build around the team’s two best players, wing Jimmy Butler and big man Bam Adebayo, this summer, Riley kept things fairly open-ended.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We are going to have a lot of [cap] room if we want to use it. You can’t continue to defer your room… We like our core.”

Here’s more from the presser:

  • It sounds like Riley fully expects to replicate the success the club has enjoyed in recent seasons when scouring the market for undrafted rookies. The Heat traded away their first-round draft pick for 2021. “We will get a couple good players out of this year’s draft, I’m sure,” Riley said.
  • Riley was questioned about Adebayo potentially rounding out his offensive game by developing three-point range soon. “It doesn’t need to happen quickly,” he said. “[Head coach Erik Spoelstra] likes to use Bam with a stretch five or four. You might have to change. You might have to think about what’s next thing in the NBA to require you to stay with that kind of play. I’ll leave that to Spo and we will talk about it.”
  • New Heat guard Victor Oladipo, an unrestricted free agent this offseason, had an underwhelming tenure with the team, appearing in just four games after being acquired from the Rockets at the trade deadline. He was felled by a quadriceps injury that required season-ending surgery. “When we made the trade, we knew there was a risk,” Riley acknowledged. “He’s like any other free agent on the team who sustained an injury; he will be rehabbing with us until he’s healthy enough to get out of that cast. … We will monitor him, work with him, and then see what happens in August when we sit down to talk to him.”
  • The 76-year-old Riley would not address his long-term outlook with the club as team president beyond the upcoming season. “I’m getting ready for the [draft combine] and then the summer league,” Riley said. “I’m ready to move forward and try to make this team better. For all of our fans out there, it was so great to see the place packed and I’m really disappointed our fans didn’t get to see what the Heat really are like.” Riley is one of the most decorated personalities in NBA history, having won once as a player, once as an assistant coach, five times as a head coach, and three times as an executive.

Southeast Notes: Butler, Riley, Beal, Hawks

Heat star Jimmy Butler gave a brutally honest assessment of his team after it dropped a third straight game on Friday to Minnesota, explaining that the club has been playing a “soft” brand of basketball. Miami’s record now stands at 28-28.

“We’re just being soft. That’s it,” Butler said, as relayed by ESPN. “Not getting into bodies, scared of some contact. Soft overall.”

The Heat lost the game 119-111, allowing the Timberwolves to shoot 52% from the floor and 42% from deep. Aside from being outworked, the team once again deployed a game plan of switching screens — a perplexing move by Erik Spoelstra with both Victor Oladipo and Andre Iguodala sidelined. The same scheme was also used in a loss against the Nuggets and Nikola Jokic on Wednesday.

“It’s not frustrating because we do it so often,” Butler said. “It’s almost like it’s expected, in a bad way to put it. We just think we’re such a good team, and then reality hits us, we’re humbled. And I’m glad, because that’s what this game does for you. Home, away, no matter what opponent you’re playing against, you just stroll into the game thinking you’re nice, you’re good. This is what happens.

“I’m glad it happened to us. And if we don’t fix it, I hope it continues to happen to us.”

There’s more from the Southeast Division today:

  • Speaking of the Heat, Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel examines in his latest “Ask Ira” mailbag whether Pat Riley failed to properly size up the team’s roster this season. Miami has upcoming games against the Nets (38-18) on Sunday, the Rockets (14-42) on Monday, and the Spurs (26-28) on Wednesday.
  • Wizards star Bradley Beal feels somewhat vindicated by not requesting a trade earlier this season, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington writes. “It speaks volumes,” Beal said. “It’s always tough because when my name was buzzing, that’s all I heard early in the year is, ‘Trade Beal, trade Beal.’ It wasn’t anything other than that. So, me knowing who I am and just sticking through it, that’s a testament to what we did as a team this year.”
  • The majority of Hawks players received their second COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Sarah Spencer of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. In addition, at least two players received their first dose.

Southeast Notes: Anthony, Heat Arena, Monk, Riley

Injured Magic rookie point guard Cole Anthony, recovering from a rib fracture suffered on February 9, has been progressing in his rehab, Roy Parry of the Orlando Sentinel tweets.

Magic head coach Steve Clifford addressed: Anthony’s improvement: “He’s able to be on the court more now. He can’t do any contact. The rib isn’t totally healed, so he’ll have to do another MRI before he’s ready for contact but he is able to do, like work out with the ball, shooting, ball handling, things on the court that he wasn’t able to do a week ago.”

There’s more out of the Southeast Division:

  • The cryptocurrency exchange FTX has purchased naming rights for the Heat‘s home court, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The current American Airlines Arena will soon be rebranded. FTX will pay $2MM per year for the moniker.
  • The Hornets face interesting decisions this summer on 2021 restricted free agents Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk. Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer wonders if Charlotte should prioritize retaining Monk, who has been on a tear of late, in the offseason. Bonnell notes that, in terms of each player’s potential fit alongside future of the franchise LaMelo Ball, Monk can be reliably slotted both alongside Ball and as a legitimate backup point guard option. The Hornets may need to let at least one of Graham or Monk walk to seek out a free agent upgrade at the center position.
  • Heat team president Pat Riley discussed Miami’s new veteran additions, and why his team opted to retain its promising youth, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. The Heat added shooting guard Victor Oladipo, recently a two-time All-Star, plus forwards Trevor Ariza and Nemanja Bjelica, without giving up intriguing young players Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson, both of whom many assumed could be moved. “They can become truly great,” Riley said. “I hate to have that come back to [bite] us if we move them… We’re happy with both of them. They’re both [going through a shooting slump]. They’ll come out of it.” Riley was also excited for Oladipo’s diverse offensive game and his defensive promise: “He’s not just a shooter. He can really defend.”