Pat Riley

Heat Notes: Love, Adebayo, Westbrook, Yurtseven, O. Robinson

Heat players are excited about the prospect of adding Kevin Love to their current roster, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Miami is considered to be the frontrunner to sign the veteran big man once he clears waivers, with a source telling Chiang that Love is intrigued by the possibility of regular playing time and the chance to team up with veteran stars Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler.

Adebayo and Tyler Herro both received questions about Love on Saturday during All-Star Weekend media sessions. In addition to the talent upgrade, they pointed out that Love would bring plenty of postseason experience.

“Anytime we can get somebody the caliber of Kevin Love, he’s played in so many big games, so many big playoff runs and he’s experienced,” Herro said. “He’s been there before. Getting a guy like that, we’ve seen what we can do if we add veteran players like that midway through the season. Usually that leads to good runs and long playoff runs for us as a team.”

There’s more from Miami:

  • Adebayo is in the second season of a five-year extension, and team president Pat Riley hopes to keep in him Miami long after that contract expires, Chiang notes in a separate story. Riley sees the 25-year-old center as a franchise cornerstone and a candidate to spend his entire career with the Heat. “It’s been a blessing to have him,” Riley said. “I go back to (Alonzo Mourning) and ‘Zo was a franchise face and then Dwyane (Wade) along with Udonis (Haslem), and now I look at Bam the same way because of longevity. I see Bam here, I hope, for his whole career.”
  • Miami is considered a potential destination for Russell Westbrook if he pursues a buyout with the Jazz, but the feedback Heat officials have gotten while investigating Westbrook has been “mixed” at best, tweets Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. Jackson hears that the team expects Kyle Lowry to be productive once he returns from his knee issues, so adding a big man is a greater priority than finding a point guard.
  • The Heat are facing a decision between Omer Yurtseven and Orlando Robinson, not only for backup center minutes for the rest of the season, but probably in offseason contract talks as well, per Ira Winderman of The Sun Sentinel. Yurtseven, who is still awaiting his season debut after undergoing ankle surgery in November, has an expiring contract and can be made a restricted free agent with a $2.2MM qualifying offer. Robinson can only be active for four more games on his two-way contract and would have to be converted to a standard deal to play beyond that.

Heat Notes: Dedmon, Oladipo, Highsmith, Vincent

Heat reserve big man Dewayne Dedmon spoke to reporters on Saturday for the first time about his recent suspension, writes Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald. Dedmon was suspended for one game by the team after getting into an argument with coaches on the sidelines and swatting a massage gun onto the court during play.

“I talked with [head coach Erik Spoelstra], talked with [team president Pat Riley], talked with my team, made sure we were all on the same page,” Dedmon said. “And we’re ready to move on from it… Sometimes it gets the best of you. But it’s basketball. We’re all competitors in this locker room, we all want to play and we all want to win. So that’s all that is.”

Chiang notes that Dedmon has lost his rotation spot as Bam Adebayo‘s primary backup as of late to undrafted rookie center Orlando Robinson.

There’s more out of Miami:

  • The role Heat guard Victor Oladipo is playing as a defensive spark plug off the bench is exactly what Spoelstra had wanted the former All-Star to achieve prior to the regular season, per Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel (subscriber-only link). “It’s what we envisioned,” Spoelstra said. “At the start of training camp, that’s the role we slotted for him.”
  • Heat reserve big Haywood Highsmith has performed well with starting power forward Caleb Martin injured, but Winderman notes in a recent mailbag (subscriber exclusive) that he is unsure if Highsmith will earn rotation minutes once everyone is healthy.
  • Spoelstra believes Heat swingman Gabe Vincent has evolved into a solid 3-and-D guard capable of playing either backcourt position this season, Chiang writes in another article. “He has the emotional stability to handle different roles that not every player in this league can accept,” Spoelstra raved. “He can play off the ball, he can play on the ball, he can play as a little bit more a scorer, he can be more of a facilitator if we have our full health. Those kind of guys are so invaluable in this league.” 

Heat Notes: Butler, Martin, Strus, Herro, Lowry

There’s been plenty of speculation this offseason that with the current makeup of the Heat’s roster that Jimmy Butler will play a lot of minutes at power forward. That’s not a prospect he relishes, he indicated during the team’s media day on Monday (link via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald).

“I could play the four, yes,” Butler said with a smile. “If they absolutely need me to play the four, I could, yes. If they absolutely wanted to have a conversation about me playing the four, I could, yes. But I’m not playing the four.”

Caleb Martin might be the early favorite to get the starting nod and he’d “love to start” at power forward, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes. However, Martin is mainly concerned with being a part of the rotation.

“As long as I’m playing and can be productive, that’s fine,” Martin said, adding that he’s “flattered” that the team passed up on signing or trading for another power forward.

We have more on the Heat as they enter training camp:

  • At 6’5”, Max Strus wouldn’t seem like an option to start at the “four” spot. He’s open to do anything that would make him a part of the lineup, Jackson adds. “Obviously I want to be starting again,” he said. “That’s my goal.” In part due to injuries to team members, Strus started 16 regular season and all 18 postseason contests last season. “You don’t start in the Eastern Finals and be considered a bad basketball player,” he said.
  • Sixth Man of the Year award winner Tyler Herro expressed a desire after the playoffs to be a starter this season. Herro, a rookie scale extension candidate, has softened that stance, Chiang notes. “I’m a team player,” Herro, 22, said. “Whatever (coach Erik Spoelstra) and our organization wants me to do, I’m willing to do. Obviously, I have my own personal goals. But at the end of the day, the team is always over what I want to do as an individual player. So whatever they want me to do, whatever role they think fits me best, that’s what I’ll do.”
  • In June, team president Pat Riley said Kyle Lowry needed to improve his conditioning. Lowry took that criticism with a grain of salt, saying he didn’t do anything differently this offseason and said his conditioning is “not a problem,” Jackson relays in a separate story“Honestly, he has his opinion,” Lowry said. “Right? Everyone has their opinion and it doesn’t do anything for me. All I do is motivate myself, I always motivate myself.”

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.

Heat Notes: Robinson, Adebayo, Herro, Oladipo, Haslem

Less than a year after signing a five-year, $90MM contract with the Heat, Duncan Robinson was replaced in the starting lineup by minimum-salary wing Max Strus and then fell out of the rotation completely in the second round of the postseason. As Anthony Chiang of The Miami Herald relays, Robinson admitted this week that it wasn’t easy to take that role reduction in stride.

“It does not matter if you’re playing JV basketball, if you’re playing middle school basketball, if you’re playing college basketball, if you’re playing in the NBA at the highest level. Not playing, it sucks in a lot of ways,” Robinson said in the latest episode of his podcast. “Especially when you feel that you’re capable and you feel that you can help win. It’s a really, really challenging feeling to combat, especially when you’re on the cusp and in the midst of a run where your team is playing really well.”

Robinson is the Heat’s most prolific three-point shooter, making 232 threes and converting them at a 37.2% rate during the 2021/22 season. However, he’s not an especially strong defender, so if his shot isn’t falling, he sometimes struggles to have an impact on the game. Heat president of basketball operations Pat Riley believes there’s room for Robinson to raise his level on the defensive end of the court.

“Defensively as a young player, even though he’s not as young as some of the other guys, he’s got to get better,” Riley said on Monday, per Chiang. “Look, we hang our hat on that. … To me, yes Duncan can improve. That message has been delivered to him many times.”

Here’s more on the Heat:

  • While the Heat will make an effort to upgrade their roster in free agency and on the trade market this summer, they’ll also be counting on internal improvement from players like Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, Chiang writes in another story for The Miami Herald. Riley suggested this week that he feels both Adebayo and Herro, who are just 24 and 22 respectively, still have room to grow.
  • After missing much of the 2021/22 season while recovering from quad surgery and then being incorporated slowly into the rotation, Victor Oladipo was starting to look a little more like his old self by the end of the Heat’s season. With Oladipo’s contract set to expire, Ira Winderman of The South Florida Sun Sentinel wonders what sort of role – and how much money – Miami will feel comfortable offering the two-time All-Star in free agency.
  • In another Sun Sentinel article, Winderman looks at the decision facing Udonis Haslem, who has no interest in becoming a coach and is weighing whether or not to play a 20th NBA season.

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.