At some point soon, Pat Riley says he’s going to send Dwyane Wade a carefully crafted, long email.
In it, he will probably say a lot of the same things Wade said about Riley last week: how he will always love him and how being a businessman can be tough.
But right now, Riley said Saturday afternoon during a 50-minute session with reporters at AmericanAirlines Arena, that letter to Wade is still not finished.
“As far as I’m concerned, if I saw him right now, I really believe it would be a warm embrace,” said Riley, who has not spoken to Wade since the 12-time All-Star “floored” him and the Miami Heat on July 6 with his decision to leave the Heat after 13 seasons and return home to Chicago.
“I don’t have any of those feelings, any of those negative feelings for him at all,” Riley continued. “I know that he was caught in a quandary with his thinking and his thought processes at the time and what we felt was going on, and I know I was locked into mine at that time, so that’s what happened.
“I was so impressed when he talked to you guys [July 9], and I really believe he was sincere, truly sincere in the things that he said. At that particular time he was raw. And I feel the same way about him. We all do. And I think everybody in the organization will feel that way about him forever.”
There haven’t been many times in Riley’s career when he has put his heart and mind to something and lost. His nine championship rings prove that. But this offseason he and the Heat lost big.
Calling it “a tough summer, period” Riley said Saturday he had “great regret” he didn’t “immerse” himself totally to keep Wade in a Heat uniform.
If it meant going to the Mediterranean sea, where Wade was vacationing on a banana boat with LeBron James and Chris Paul, Riley said he should have been out there on a canoe. If it meant being in New York the afternoon owner Micky Arison met with Wade for the final time — hours before Wade decided to sign with the Bulls — Riley said he should have been there, too.
Still, Riley said, Wade’s decision to leave “was not about money.”
After all, the two-year, $47.5 million deal Wade signed on Friday with the Bulls was not drastically superior to the Heat’s two-year, $40 million offer when state income taxes in Illinois are taken into account.
“This was about something else, I more than he,” Riley said. “Because he’s the asset, he’s the star, he’s the face of the franchise, I should have tried to do everything that I could have, verbally, in trying to change his mind-set to mine or a big picture or a better picture or one that I thought would help him and also would give him two things — would help him end his career [winning] and also get him financially the money he needed and wanted.”
Even though Wade was talking contract with Arison, Riley said the franchise has always presented “one voice” in negotiations, regardless if he, Arison or general manager Andy Elisburg are the face of those negotiations.
Last summer, it was Arison who met with an upset Wade and eventually convinced him to sign a one-year, $20 million deal.
This summer, Riley made sure to retain center Hassan Whiteside first with a four-year, $98 million deal and then went after Kevin Durant before the Heat went to Wade. By then, though, the damage had apparently already been done.
“Conditions [of negotiations with Wade] over the last year or two have always sort of pointed in the direction that we as an organization didn’t do enough for Dwyane,” Riley said. “I’ve always been the one reaching and reaching and reaching to get him another guy.
“After [LeBron James] left, I was trying to find a way to get him another guy to help not only win, but to help him win in a way that he would be very proud when he moved on and retired. It wasn’t just getting another guy for him. It was also to maximize our ability to win. And the only way we [could] do that [was] to have the same type of collaborative cooperation I had in 2010, and how that whole thing came together.
“So, my thoughts were was always to try to make the team better and also try to make sure that Dwyane — over the course of three, four, five years that he had left in his career — that he would get his money. But not at the expense of paralyzing our ability to win, which is what I think hurt him. If there was anything I could have done better, I would have done it. But now, there’s no do-overs in this. I wish him the best.”
The roster the Heat was able to put together after Wade was lost, which includes Tyler Johnson, veteran Udonis Haslem and a collection of five role-playing journeymen (Willie Reed, Wayne Ellington, Luke Babbitt, Derrick Williams and James Johnson), is still good enough to “compete for a playoff spot,” Riley said.
Those chances would obviously improve if 11-time All-Star Chris Bosh, who was lost for the second season in a row after the All-Star break with blood clots in his leg, returns to the court this fall. But Riley said the situation remains fluid, and there likely will not be any more clarity on Bosh’s future until August or September, which would be at least six months since he went back on blood-thinning medication.
“It’s always fluid,” Riley said. “It has been since there was a diagnosis and a decision for him not to play [during the playoffs] for the rest of the season. What the standard of care is in the situation is what drove us to make that decision.
“It’s a positive environment right now with Chris, and I think his doctors and our doctors are constantly more so more than ever communicating. I know what Chris wants. I know he wants to play. Obviously, we would be open to that. But this is still a very fluid situation. On this day today, the 16th, there’s not an answer. I wish I could give you one. Let’s just let this process move on down the road and go from there.”
Asked if the Heat would consider bringing Bosh back under restrictions on travel or a limited workload, Riley said: “I think all those things will come in to play and there’ll be a discussion. There are many players in different sports that do play with that condition, and they’re on and off programs on blood thinners and stuff.
“But I think when it comes down to a final protocol, or if it gets to a formula in how this has to be done, then that’s what we’ll deal with.”