Barry Jackson

Miami Heat president Pat Riley explains why he traded for Dwyane Wade

Miami Heat president Pat Riley acquired Dwyane Wade and Luke Babbitt before Thursday’s game.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley acquired Dwyane Wade and Luke Babbitt before Thursday’s game. pportal@miamiherald.com

What Heat president Pat Riley had to say in a conference call late Thursday afternoon, after acquiring Dwyane Wade and Luke Babbitt via trades:

▪ On how the Wade deal came together with Cleveland: “This was a relatively short notice situation. There were at least a couple weeks into discussions about a lot of things. … When you do calling and talking and working, sometimes at the end of the process, when other teams are trying to trade for the same players you might be interested in, someone like Dwyane’s name might come up. It’s something that happens all the time when you’re active in the market.”

▪ On what Wade, who was acquired for a protected 2024 second-round draft pick, offers: “Once Dion [Waiters] went down, we felt a real need to do something at that spot with a front-line player. The cost of a front-line player was too expensive for us... in terms of them asking us for our young players who we don’t want to trade. I would think Dwyane would come off the bench to start. Josh [Richardson] will be [at small forward].

“There are two things he can still do from an offensive standpoint — he can get to the rim, he can make plays and he can make shots. He has an uncanny ability to do that when the pressure’s on him. He still has a lot left in the tank. He’s the perfect fit for our team. Tyler Johnson has done a great job. Hasn’t been the same since his ankle injury. Putting him in a starting role has been a lot for him. We will get back to somewhat of a normalcy if in fact that changes.

“All of us have to realize he’s not the Dwyane Wade of 2006 against Dallas but he’s a facsimile of that. The fact that he decided to come off the bench in Cleveland limited his opportunities to do certain things he’s always been capable of doing. I would imagine he would morph right into the role of being a frontline scorer for us. He can still play. A defender on the ball in need situations. He’s the 12th best two-way guard in the league [in Heat rankings]. In the contemporary plus-minus analytics, he’s 15th/16th. Getting to the rim, getting to the free throw line. There’s something about Dwyane at the end of games I think is unique and special. I don’t think you lose that.”

▪ Riley said Wade will be available to play in Friday’s Heat home game against Milwaukee.

▪ On getting closure on Wade after the contract talks two years ago: “I think you’re correct on that. For all of you who know me, warriors don’t live in the past. Life is now. And the future is waiting. Based on what happened with Dwyane and us the last couple of years, there’s no bitterness and no regrets. We’ve always talked about that. Micky [Arison] is very pro Dwyane. Coach [Erik Spoelstra] is very pro Dwyane. I am. It was a sad day when Dwyane left and it’s a beautiful day that he’s back.

“I’m sure he’s got his work cut out for him. From his last two spots, he might not be in Miami Heat conditioning. But we have enough time to get him up to speed on that. I’m glad we could get him. It’s about now, it’s about today, it’s about tomorrow. It’s about competing for a favorable playoff spot or even just to get in the playoffs. I couldn’t think of a better player to be in here without having to give up a lot of assets or young assets. To get Dwyane back, it was a very good trade.

“I talked to Dwyane via text and my own raspy voice and I said to them you just ate your last meal of pancakes with syrup and strawberries and whipped cream. We’re back to [vegetables].”

▪ Riley’s overall thoughts: “We have passed another trade deadline. Forty seven years for me. This is one of the very best for me personally and also in terms of the organization. Just so happy we were able to complete a trade that I truly think is going to help us tremendously and from a competitive standpoint now, to win. Having Dwyane back in the fold, and in Miami, is a great day for the Heat. To add Luke Babbitt to the equation gives us a great shot of trying to accomplish what we want to do. Luke Babbitt, we all know and are very familiar with his ability to be able to shoot the basketball.”

▪ Riley said the Heat would remain active and would pursue a bought out player “if there’s something that can be attractive.”

The Heat has a $5.5 million disabled player exception that can be used before March 13.

▪ On Babbitt, who was acquired from Atlanta: “We liked Luke. We wanted to sign Luke last summer but really ran out of roster spots. Spo loves Luke, loves the fact he spaces the floor. He’s a no-nonsense player. If you look at his numbers from three-point range, from all areas of the court, he’s above average, way above average. A lot of the guys traded today, Luke was the very best three-point shooter all three. We’ve been talking about Luke and others for a while.”

▪ Riley on the state of the team: “I thought we had broken through a couple of weeks ago and started to gain ground and become a little more consistent in certain areas. There’s no doubt the last 10 games have been a downer for all of us. A lot of close games we weren’t able to finish, a lack of consistency at both ends of the court that I think can be corrected.

“We have a team that’s pure, that wants to win big time, that has put a little bit more pressure on themselves than they need to. We have a tough schedule ahead of us. It’s going to be tough. There are six or seven teams just like us, all frothing at the mouth. The teams like us fighting to get into the playoffs. Any of us that get in there can be formidable and the teams at the top know that.”

Here’s my post with a six-pack of Wade nuggets exploring how he’s playing - including something that might surprise you - and some roster news.

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