Barry Jackson

Heat’s Riley addresses Adebayo pick, other issues in late-night news conference

Pat Riley talks about Miami Heat's draft pick

Miami Heat President Pat Riley holds a news conference after the Heat chose Bam Adebayo as its first pick in the NBA draft on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at the AmericanAirlines Area in downtown Miami.
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Miami Heat President Pat Riley holds a news conference after the Heat chose Bam Adebayo as its first pick in the NBA draft on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at the AmericanAirlines Area in downtown Miami.

Heat president Pat Riley discussed Miami’s first-round pick and other topics in a late-night news conference:

• On first-round pick Bam Adebayo, the Kentucky power forward/center: “The reasoning behind the selection of Bam is we felt, or I felt, all of us, probably the best athlete, hungry, humble and healthy. Very strong. Great workouts with us. Great interview. Saw him a number of times. Just off the charts from an athletic standpoint.

“We’re lacking depth in the frontcourt. There are a number of things we want to sort of cover and fill, but when he was on the board at 14, we felt just compelled to take him. Shot-blocker, Explosive, a lob threat, jumper a leaper, runs rim to rim, can guard 1 through 5. We felt the need to get an athletic big.

“From a defensive standpoint, that’s where the emphasis came at that time. There were other bigs that were available that had specific skills, but there were other things we didn’t like about them. I think he’ll be a perfect fit for us. But... he’s 19 years hold.... We are really excited about it, to be able to get him.

“It’s a wow factor. He’s not 7-1 like [Hassan Whiteside], but he plays like him at 6-9. He’s an above the rim player for real while other guys try to play above the rim. His speed, quickness, ability. We put him in situations to guard perimeter guys. We felt the need to get an athletic big. He’s a gamer. He’s hungry. He’s as clean as a whistle.

“We put him in situations to guard perimeter guys [in a July 8 workout]. I’m a big fan of what John [Calipari] does from a coaching standpoint at Kentucky. He comes from a great system.

Kentucky forward Bam Adebayo averaged 13 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game for the Cats this season. Some of his most memorable moments came when he was in "beast" mode.

Also, when we sat and talked to Bam for an hour, you get blown away by his story, his background, his motivation. We felt he was the best player on the board at that time. Now he’s not the best shooter, but that all comes. When he was in the workout for us, he made 30 out of 50 threes and had a great release. All that comes with young big men.

“He played 30 minutes a game, shot about 60 percent. He’s a very efficient player around the basket. Doesn’t need the ball. What [Calipari] said to me was, he was a great teammate, a wonderful teammate to have. When we talked to him, he had a level of maturity about him, a quietness about him that we really liked. I saw him play two or three times and a number of film sessions. There were three or four or five guys in the mix. He was actually ahead of the 14th pick” [on our draft board]. We feel he’s going to be a special player.”

• On not buying a second-round pick from another team: “You’re dropping $3.5 million on a 50th pick, let’s get real here. We like our roster. We need to fill some spots. What I don’t want to do is take a second-round pick unless we really like somebody. It wasn’t the fact we wouldn’t pay $3.5 million for pick.... We said we would take only one player in the draft unless something happened via trade.

He said the Heat received some “ridiculous” offers that were one-sided “against us.”

• Riley said he has a plan A and B for free agency. “We feel good about the plan.... We feel very comfortable about that. We feel good where we are with our roster. We hope we’ll have some information the first night [July 1].”

• Would Riley be content with this summer if he’s merely able to keep James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington?

“Yes; if that were to be the case, I would,” he said. “We’ve been talking about that. Now we can spend the next 10 days getting that [plan] together.”

Asked if he wants Ellington and Luke Babbitt back, Riley wasn’t ready to discuss that very late on draft night:

“We have great respect for Dion, James, Luke and obviously what Wayne did last year. We’re concerned but we’re also very confident when you go into this process.”

Johnson, Waiters, Willie Reed and Babbitt will become unrestricted free agents on July 1, with only Babbitt having Bird Rights allowing Miami to exceed the cap to keep him. The Heat must decide by July 7 whether to guarantee Ellington’s $6.3 million salary for next season.

• With regard to star free agents, Riley isn’t allowed to discuss Gordon Hayward, Blake Griffin or anyone else linked to Heat interest because they’re still under contract.

But Riley said: “The major, major guys are mostly going back. There might be a couple of very, very good players that might be available. From what we understand, most of the great ones will re-sign with their teams. I can understand why they would.... There might be a little more discipline in how teams go about that whole process [with spending].”

• Riley said Udonis Haslem, who’s a free agent, is the Heat’s backup center at the moment.

• Riley on Golden State: “Right now, it doesn’t look like there are many teams very close to them. They’ve built something special.... Continuity in this game is going to be very difficult to keep a team together for a long time. If Golden State can keep those guys together for nine or 10 years, there will be somebody who will catch up to them, or it might not. You are not a dynasty in three years. You are a hypothetical dynasty because of how good they are now.”

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