Pat Riley

Andre Iguodala Still Elite In Riley’s Mind

Heat president Pat Riley isn’t worried about Andre Iguodala‘s age or the fact the veteran forward hasn’t played this season, as he told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald and other reporters. In fact, Riley took a different spin on Iguodala sitting out while waiting for the Grizzlies to trade him to a contender. Miami acquired Iguodala from Memphis in a deadline deal.

“He’s an elite defender, an elite team defender; an elite assist-to-turnover percentage. You don’t lose that in seven months,” Riley said. “Probably a blessing in disguise he didn’t play in seven months. He’s in shape. He’s definitely going to have to get his basketball legs under him. As long as he’s healthy he can play.”

Riley also touched on a number of other subjects:

  • He was unwilling to give Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari a guaranteed 2021/22 contract extension, which prevented a trade for the OKC forward. That supports an ESPN report earlier today. Miami wanted to protect its projected cap space for the summer of 2021, when several high-level players are expected to hit the free agent market. “I wanted everything. But I wasn’t going to … compromise a two-year plan,” Riley said, adding “I like Gallo. I think he would have fit in really well. “
  • Trading Justise Winslow to Memphis in a three-team deal that also included Minnesota was the hard part for Riley. Winslow has been injured most of the season. “I know he’s missed 150 games during 4 ½ years with us,” Riley said. “We’re going to miss him. The Memphis Grizzlies got a great young player.”
  • No decision has been made on whether to offer Derrick Jones Jr. a contract this offseason. Jones becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. “I like the fact he’s improved his three-point shooting,” Riley said. “Like the fact he’s become a better, more consistent defender. When that time comes we have a decision to make.”
  • The Heat will scour the buyout market for a rim protector, per Riley: “We will keep our eyes out. We are happy part of this transaction gives us the possibility of a buyout player later on.”

Pat Riley Talks Heat Roster, Outlook, First-Round Picks

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.”

Johnson Close To Returning To Heat Camp

Heat president Pat Riley said forward James Johnson is very close to reaching his conditioning requirements and joining the team for training camp, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

Johnson failed to meet Riley’s standards – which Johnson’s agent Mark Bartelstein described as a weight issue – and has been working out apart from the team.

“He’s already almost there again,” Riley said. “So I think in very short notice I’m going to turn this over to (coach) Erik (Spoelstra).”

Riley says he has no hard feelings toward Johnson but that the banishment “had to be done.”

“I’ve always had that feeling about players, even the ones that may fall short of certain goals and things of that nature,” he said. “It’s just something that had to be done. Now, he realizes it, and I realize it. It’s not going to take away from the team and it’s not going to take away from him once he reaches those conditioning requirements.”

Johnson has a $15.3MM contract this season with a $16MM player option for the 2020/21 season. He’s the projected starter at power forward after starting 33 of 55 games in which he appeared last season.

Heat Notes: Butler, Olynyk, Winslow, Haslem

The culture established by team president Pat Riley was a deciding factor in Jimmy Butler agreeing to join the Heat, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

“The winning habits, the winning ways. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?” he said. “I was excited to have an opportunity to come here, to be here, but when I keep hearing about this culture I was like, ‘I need that in my life.’”

Butler, who received a four-year deal worth approximately $141MM as part of a sign-and-trade with the Sixers, has shown that work ethic during early-morning workouts and in pickup games. Riley describes his biggest summer acquisition as a top-10 player in the NBA

“The one thing that I feel that I owe the franchise and this city is to put the most competitive team on the court that we can and one that will compete for championships,” Riley said. “I think having Jimmy Butler here is a step in that direction.”

We have more on the Heat:

  • Big man Kelly Olynyk won’t be available for the start of training camp but he’s expected to be ready for the opener, Reynolds reports in the same story. He suffered a bone bruise in his right knee while playing for Team Canada prior to the FIBA World Cup. Every other player on the training camp roster is expected to be available at the start of camp.
  • Riley wasn’t thrilled that Justise Winslow said publicly he wanted to be the starting point guard, Reynolds tweets. Winslow commented that he wanted to be the team’s floor leader earlier this month. He played well in that role last season after injuries struck but the starter in recent seasons, Goran Dragic, remains on the roster.
  • Butler would consider playing for Team USA in next year’s Olympics if he’s asked, Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel tweets.
  • Prior to re-signing veteran forward Udonis Haslem, Riley asked him if he wanted to coach this summer, Reynolds tweets. Haslem said he wasn’t interested in coaching but Riley believes he’ll eventually change his mind, Reynolds adds.

Southeast Notes: Gordon, Wizards, Miller

Aaron Gordon jumped on Sirius XM NBA Radio to talk about the Magic‘s NBA offseason and he portrayed optimism about Markelle Fultz‘s future with the club.

“[Fultz] is a sleeper. If he wakes up and if he’s awake and woken up, he’s a monster,” Gordon said.

Fultz, whose return to the court has yet to be determined, will have a chance to win the team’s starting point guard spot. Incumbent starter D.J. Augustin, who has one season left on his deal, and Michael Carter-Williams, who re-signed with Orlando on a one-year deal, will be the former No. 1 overall pick’s top competition for the role.

Orlando didn’t make major additions in the backcourt this offseason. The team re-signed a few members of its core (Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross) and brought in Al-Farouq Aminu with its mid-level exception. Gordon is excited about the addition of Aminu, as well as the continuity the team will experience next season.

“We got Al-Farouq, which is dope,” Gordon said. “[He’s] another 3-and-D guy. Tenacious, hard noise, long-defender and that’s the most beautiful thing. Nothing has changed from this year to last year.”

Here’s more from the Southeast Division:

  • Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington examines whether the Wizards can make a quick turnaround. Hughes argues that if Washington is going to contend sooner than later, the team needs its young talent to show improvement. That would increase each players’ trade value and give the Wizards an avenue to place an immediate difference maker next to Bradley Beal.
  • The Hawks have promoted Tori Miller to assistant GM of the College Park Skyhawks, according to the G League affiliate’s website. Miller spent the last two seasons as the Skyhawks’ Manager of Basketball Operations. She broke into the NBA as an intern with the Suns from 2014-16.
  • Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel envisions Pat Riley remaining with the Heat for the foreseeable future, as the scribe details in his latest mailbag. Winderman adds that Miami’s team president remains determined to get the team back to contention and the franchise’s young players are suited to help them achieve that goal.

Heat Acquire Jimmy Butler In Sign-And-Trade

The Heat have officially acquired Jimmy Butler from the Sixers in a sign-and-trade deal that also includes the Trail Blazers and the Clippers, according to press releases from Miami and Philadelphia.

The Heat also acquired big man Meyers Leonard from the Trail Blazers and cash considerations from the Clippers. Miami sent shooting guard Josh Richardson to Philadelphia, center Hassan Whiteside to the Blazers and a conditional first-round pick to the Clippers. The Clippers also received forward Maurice Harkless from Portland and the draft rights to 2017 second-round pick Mathias Lessort from the Sixers.

The Clippers and Blazers have also confirmed the swap.

The 2023 first-rounder that the Heat forwarded to the Clippers, which is lottery-protected through 2025 and unprotected in 2026, was subsequently moved to the Thunder as part of the agreed-upon Paul George blockbuster.

Butler inked a four-year, $141MM contract with the Heat. Miami waived forward Ryan Anderson and stretched his contract in order to stay below the hard cap and complete the sign-and-trade.

“Jimmy’s leadership, tenacity, professionalism, defensive disposition and his ability to create his own shot will improve our roster immediately,” Miami president Pat Riley said in the press release. “Any time you can add a four-time All-Star to your roster, you make that move. Meyers is a versatile big, a great shooter, can play inside and block shots. The addition of both men puts us in a great position to win.”

The disgruntled Butler was dealt by Minnesota to Philadelphia last season. The Sixers wanted to retain Butler but couldn’t convince him to stay and got something for him via the sign-and-trade mechanism. In 65 total games for the Wolves and Sixers last season, Butler averaged 18.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG with a .462/.347/.855 shooting line. Richardson averaged a career-high 16.6 PPG and 4.1 APG last season.

Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey called the acquisition of Whiteside an “impact move for our roster.” The Blazers were looking for a starting center with Jusuf Nurkic on the mend from a serious leg injury.

Heat Notes: Riley, Whiteside, Dragic, Haslem

Heat president Pat Riley spoke about the state of the Heat recently, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald passes along some of the more relevant take-aways from Riley’s comments.

Despite Justice Winslow‘s success running the point while Goran Dragic was injured last season, Riley expects Dragic to be the team’s starting point guard for the 2019/20 season. Riley also expects both Dion Waiters and James Johnson to come back strong from injuries and play a significant role.

Regarding first-round pick Tyler Herro, Riley said that the 19-year-old guard “has proven in his short time at Kentucky that he’s not only a great shooter, but he’s a competitor, he’s tough, and he can defend. We’re very excited to have him.”

Riley declined to comment on the 32nd overall pick KZ Okpala, as his rights are still owned by the Pacers. He likewise declined to speak about Bol Bol, as his rights are being traded to the Nuggets.

There’s more out of Miami this afternoon from Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel:

  • Cap-strapped after both Hassan Whiteside  and Dragic opted into their player options for the 2019/20 season, the Heat are in somewhat of a holding pattern until they are able to clear those two off their books in the summer of 2020. For now, Pat Riley seems keen on encouraging Heat fans to root their young team on towards a playoff berth next season (link).
  • The Heat are likely to carry 14 players on their roster during the 2019/20 season in order to avoid the luxury tax, but will Udonis Haslem be that 14th-man (link)? It’s a possibility, and Haslem has said that his family with play a primary role in his retirement decision.
  • The conundrum the Heat face with Whiteside next season is that while he may have the chance to stay healthy and rediscover his game, how does that help Miami if they’re not a championship contender (link)? Whiteside’s contract ends after the 2019/20 season, and if the Heat are serious about developing their young core, Whiteside doesn’t really have a place on the roster past this season, so letting him stuff the stat sheet on a mediocre team for one season really does the Heat no good.

Goran Dragic Picks Up Player Option

Goran Dragic has picked up his $19.2MM player option for the 2019/20 season, Shams Charania of The Athletic reports (Twitter link). Rade Filipovich, Dragic’s agent, said the point guard “wants to stay in Miami forever,” Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets.

Dragic had until June 29 to make a decision, though the Heat have been operating under the assumption that he would make this move. Miami now has roughly $102.6MM in guaranteed salary on the books for the 2019/20 season.

Rumblings that the Heat are looking for a point guard upgrade didn’t stop Dragic from picking up his option. Dragic is now eligible to be traded.

The Heat originally traded for the veteran point guard at the 2015 trade deadline, giving up four players and pair of picks in the deal. Norris Cole, Danny Granger, Shawne Williams, and Justin Hamilton were all sent to Phoenix — none of those players are on an NBA roster anymore.

The Suns used the 2018 pick they received from the deal to select Zhaire Smith and packaged him along with Miami’s 2021 selection—the other pick Phoenix received from the Dragic deal—to move up and take Mikal Bridges (the Clippers now own Miami’s 2021 selection via the Tobias Harris trade).

Prior to picking up his option, Dragic did not receive any assurances from Pat Riley that the Heat would not trade him, per Jackson (Twitter link). However, Riley also didn’t indicate that trading him was the plan.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Southeast Notes: Riley, Heat Outlook, Bryant, Hornets

Heat president Pat Riley felt it was time to invest in his own roster after he failed to sign top-level free agents in recent years, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald reports. “Once we didn’t land Kevin Durant or didn’t land Gordon Hayward, then it was time to sort of move on from searching for room and at the same time holding your other players hostage,” Riley said. “To move into a two- or three-year window with young players that we drafted and others who we thought were on-the-brink-to-make-it veterans that hadn’t made it somewhere else. What we came up with and what we found out is that we have a very, very competitive team.”

We have more from around the Southeast Division:

  • Riley made moves during the trade deadline to get rid of the glut of guards and wing players on the roster. He also waived Rodney McGruder right before the end of the regular season to dodge the luxury tax. He feels the roster is much more balanced now heading into the summer. “I think we have built a base. … We have our draft choices,” he said. “The possibilities of room are right around the road. Don’t be making any kind of conclusions about next year in that we’re stuck with certain contracts or whatever it is you think we can’t get out of. That would be foolish thinking on your part.”
  • Center Thomas Bryant will be a restricted free agent if the Wizards extend a qualifying offer of $3MM and he intends to re-sign, according to Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington. “They gave me an opportunity to play,” said Bryant, who inherited the starting job with Dwight Howard playing only nine games. “Why would I want to leave?” Retaining Bryant is high on the current front office’s priority list but the GM who replaces fired Ernie Grunfeld might not feel the same way, Hughes points out. League provisions could also come into play if Bryant signs an offer sheet. The Wizards hold his Early Bird rights but salary-cap concerns would grow if Bryant signs a back-loaded contract.
  • If the Hornets move up in the lottery and snag a top-three pick, GM Mitch Kupchak would likely listen to trade offers, Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer opines in his latest mailbag. However, that would only make sense if Kupchak was confident that bringing in an impact veteran would secure a commitment from Kemba Walker. Otherwise, the Hornets would be in a rebuild mode, and a rookie with star potential would be more valuable to them.

Pat Riley Discusses Heat’s Future, Playoffs, Free Agency

Heat president Pat Riley discussed the franchise, its future, free agency and the playoffs during a team charity event at American Airlines Arena on Sunday, as relayed by Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald.

Riley expressed confidence that the Heat will make the postseason this year, also noting the amount of cap space the team is set to have during the summer of 2020. Miami, according to Jackson, wants to augment its roster via trade or free agency around that time.

The Heat have mostly disappointed through 62 games with a 28-34 record, currently trailing the No. 8 seed Magic by one game.

Here are some of the noteworthy comments from Riley:

On whether the Heat can make the playoffs:

“I have high expectations. I have always had them. [Erik Spoelstra] has them. I believe our players not only believe in the expectations but we’re right now in a wonderful stretch drive. It’s competitive.

“Our last 10 games with the exception of Denver, Detroit, right down to the wire. This whole thing is going to go down to the wire and we’re going to make the playoffs and that’s what it’s about. High expectations… sometimes you don’t get to where you want and you do what you have to do to make the playoffs and that’s where we are.”

On clearing cap space for free agency in 2020:

“If you want to do the math any way you want to do the math and say we can’t do it, then you don’t have big dreams like I do or how we’ve operated here. Clearing space is easy. You just watch the New York Knicks do it and what was their price in doing it. You watch the Clippers do it and what was their price in doing it.

“You can do it if you want to do it, but you have to get a good feeling that the reason why you’re going to do it is you’re going to get two [high-end players]. You have flexibility and that’s what the possibility of having room does for you. If you get an indication something good can happen that year, you go for it. If you don’t , you just keep plugging away. We have the two picks [first-rounders in 2019 and 2020]. We have a lot of assets. We have cash, we have exceptions. We will improve the team. It will be much better than it is now.”

On whether Dion Waiters and James Johnson have met the team’s conditioning requirements:

“You don’t get to see the numbers every week I do. They’re making their numbers. Based on their injuries and the fact they’ve missed a lot of time, it’s very hard to stay in world class condition. They’re working at it every day. If they were not making their numbers, I don’t think they would be on the court. Because of their injury past, they don’t get a pass on anything but they’re making their numbers. They just got to go harder on it.

“It isn’t about conditioning with those guys, it’s about performance. With them and performance with everybody else. What is the result? The result over the past two years has been this, which is we’re competing for a playoff spot.”