Of all the questions the media asked Miami Heat president Pat Riley during his end-of-season press conference Tuesday, not one included the possibility of the 78-year-old executive retiring.
Less than two weeks removed from losing the NBA Finals in five games to the Denver Nuggets, there seemed to be widespread understanding that Riley just wasn’t going anywhere.
Could it be a result of the Heat’s historic playoff run as a No. 8 seed? Or the momentum they built up for next season? Whichever the case, people learned their lesson after last season’s final press conference, when Riley scoffed at the notion of walking away.
This time around, he made it abundantly clear that all he cares about right now is the Heat.
“Another championship team, that’s my goal,” he said. “I have no other plans other than to do that.”
There is a mysticism and uncertainty around the Heat’s plans heading into free agency next month. The roster will also get a new face even before July 1, as Miami owns the No. 18 pick in the NBA Draft tonight.
Regardless, Riley seems to have a sense of patience, poise and control with his offseason agenda for the Heat, adding that “we’re not going to take a wrecking ball to this thing. Good times come, good times come. Hard times come, hard times come. [But] we’re not going to take a wrecking ball to a good team that had some real adversity this year. We had a good team, probably a great team. We wouldn’t have gotten as far as we had – and there’s no caveat in any of that – if you weren’t a great team.”
But as soon as Denver eliminated Miami, talk around the league began to center on the Heat’s need for another superstar. Bradley Beal was among the potential targets, before the Washington Wizards traded him to the Phoenix Suns this week. Damian Lillard, guard for the Portland Trail Blazers, could be another option, but he will be highly coveted.
And Riley knows that acquiring talent in the summer often comes with sacrificing players who meant a lot to a franchise. And in this case, they perhaps were a part of a historic playoff run.
Riley touched upon his strategy on the trade market, even referring to it as an “addition by subtraction” algorithm that may take some time to develop.
“We’re going to show some patience here instead of reacting without knowing what the consequences could be in doing something,” he said.
Two major factors in Riley’s confidence in this iteration of the Heat are center Bam Adebayo and guard Tyler Herro. At 25 and 23, respectively, both are young cornerstones that can flank Jimmy Butler at least for next season. And keep in mind, Herro missed a bulk of the postseason with a hand injury. A healthy Herro for a full season might just be the “addition” Miami needs.
“We’ve got two anchors in Bam and Tyler,” Riley said.
But they aren’t the only young players intent on improving this offseason. Last year’s first-round pick, Nikola Jovic, 20, will look to take a leap at the NBA Summer League next month. He will be joined by this year’s first-round selection on that summer team.
Fans will get to know more about that player tonight after Riley selects him at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.