Heat president Pat Riley said Wednesday that he sees an evolving role for starting point guard Mario Chalmers, while insisting LeBron James’ praise of Shabazz Napier had no influence on Miami trading up to draft him.
On the decision to give Chalmers a two-year, $8.3 million contract after a poor NBA Finals performance, Riley said: “Mario is a big-game player. He learned more than ever in this [Finals] that you can never take anything for granted at this level of play.
“We’re looking at Mario differently in this roster. He’s a point guard, but we’re also looking at him as a [shooting guard]. Mario can be very effective as a long-armed [shooting guard] who can shoot the three.”
Napier, who will compete with Chalmers and Norris Cole for playing time, “struggled this summer somewhat shooting the ball, but we still feel he has a tremendous upside,” Riley said, adding there was “no truth” to speculation that Miami drafted him because James likes his skill set.
Beyond Napier, Riley has high hopes for rookie small forward James Ennis, who played in Australia this past season.
“We see upside, athleticism, three-point shooting,” Riley said. “He can stuff up the stat sheet. He’s a very athletic, high-motor player. He has improved greatly. [But] he needs a lot of work. He’s still really raw.”
Meanwhile, Riley said he likes Justin Hamilton and indicated he probably will retain the second-year center, who has a Friday deadline to guarantee half of his $816,482 salary for next season.