Barry Jackson

Heat's Pat Riley dishes on Wade, Ellington, Richardson, James Johnson and more

Heat president Pat Riley addressed a bunch of issues in his postseason news conference on Monday.

He spoke of finding "one more transformative player" and said nobody on the roster is untouchable. So it's clear he's open to doing anything with his roster.

Click here for my Herald colleague Manny Navarro's piece on Riley’s big-picture thoughts on that, his roster, what changes are needed and Hassan Whiteside.

Here’s what Riley said on other issues:

On Dwyane Wade and whether he might retire: "I talked to Dwyane on Friday. We had a good conversation but we didn't get into it. We didn't get into ... I don't like to talk to a player about retirement because when start talking to a player about retirement, guess what? He retires. So I don't want to talk to he or UD about retirement because I think both players are still in great shape. They both can play. Dwyane, I love the fact he came home so we got all of that dilemma and drama and stuff behind us and plus Dwyane played some big-time minutes for us. We don't win Game 2 in Philly without him and we're not in Game 4 without him. So he still has it.

"And I'm just going to let him marinate with he and Gabby [wife Gabrielle Union] and his family. He told me he's just going to spend a lot of time with Zaire, with his son, as he starts going through the AAU process. And I said, 'God bless you on the AAU process.' He deserves that time and then I think in the next month we'll sit down and have a talk a little more earnestly about that. Plus I've got to sit down with Nick [Arison] and Micky [Arison] on the whole roster, too, and where they want to go and how they see things."

On whether he definitely wants to keep impending free agent Wayne Ellington or whether that requires some thought because he believes the roster needs to be thinned and because the Heat is against the tax threshold:

“We need to give that some thought. There's no doubt that we want him back. It's how do we get him back and deal with that ... threshold. The tax threshold. If we signed Wayne, OK, next year and he takes us into the tax, then that guy right over there [Riley pointed to GM Andy Elisburg] has 15 months to get us out. But we want to sign, we would love to sign Wayne back. He is pure Heat. He's a hell of a player. He's a contemporary player. He's still young. And I think probably a little bit of what happened with Wayne in the playoffs and also maybe toward the end of the season with the exception of that last Toronto game - God, eight 3s - is you see that. You definitely are going to prioritize him and then we'll have to work that out. We're in a currency-trading situation here.

"I talked about 60 contracts here, 60 contracts there, how many contracts below that where you can turn one into two, I think there's going to be 20 teams, 15 teams, a lot of teams like us that are going to be looking and say 'OK, we can exchange parallel salaries.' You can go to sign-and-trades and free agency and try to attack that market and see if you can make something work, but we've got two months to think about it. And Andy is truly gifted and one of the very best."

On Dion Waiters: “I’ve had conversations with Dion. He was hurt. He was playing hurt for a year and a half for the most part. I’m glad he had the surgery. I hope the surgery is 100 percent successful. You got a very talented 25 years old, 26 year old player that still wants to make his mark and we don’t have to go out and pay somebody $25 million to get him to play. We’ll see what happens."

Can Josh Richardson become an 18 to 20 point a game scorer and an upper echelon small forward? “"I think he has that ability. And, again, the game has changed. It really has changed. And it's hard, a lot of the times, to make sure that your key player, the ones that you believed in and the ones that you have the most money to are going to get 12 to 15 shots or 18 shots a game. Now, probably the two most consistent players that we had this year were Goran Dragic and Josh.

"Is Josh a small forward? Is he a two? I think he's probably more of a two, but in today's game and also how we play and the fact that we're guard-oriented, perimeter-oriented in a lot of ways, Josh is pushed over to the three most of the time. But he could be playing a power forward, but he's probably a two. And he's going to have to improve.

"There's no doubt that his improvement and upside and being sort of a go-to guy and the end of the game to be able to handle pressure -- it was interesting to watch Victor Oladipo the last couple of games, they trapped him every single time and now you've got to see that like as hundred, two hundred, a thousand timed to be able to execute out of it. So, from that standpoint, in the old says, I made sure that Zo and Tim and Mash all got 14 to 20 shots a game. That's it. I made sure those guys got. But it was a different time. And so with today's equal opportunity and we win through numbers, some night guys get buried.

"They're just moving the ball, they're screening, they're snapping and it's not an indictment to the offense. It's the style of play and, so, we were very successful, I think, with that. So it's sort of hard for one guy every single night, unless he's playing 35 minutes a game and you're going to go to him and make sure he's going to get 15 shots or 16 shots a game or 20 shots a game. And so that's' something you have to think about also -- who do you feature, who do you want to feature and does he had the kind of ability to kind of create his shots on his own in this game."

Did James Johnson live up to expectations? "I like what J.J. did. I look at J.J. as a quintessential, as they're described now, Swiss Army Knife. He had a great second half last year. He had a great second half this year. And we asked him to do a lot of things. He guards point guards just like Justise can. He can handle. He's involved in a lot of the decision making in the offense, which the coach likes to have some of his power forwards bring the ball up. But I love J.J., love the fact that he's a winner, wants to win, has a great attitude. But he has to get better, too."

On his comments to an ESPN writer earlier this year that he was angry about LeBron James leaving initially but now understands it:

"That was a book I think I interviewed for that book five, six months ago, seven months ago. I haven't read the book. But what ever my comments were in that book they were heartfelt and sincere. I haven't spoken to LeBron since he left here basically. Texted him one time."



The Heat lacks a draft pick this year. Riley said “every other year is good enough” to have a good draft pick.

"All we need is another 16th pick this year. That's all we need is another young player this year. We've got enough. We've got a good

young core of players. We hope one of the guys we really like that we can sign on July 1 might be tantamount to a first round pick this

year. To be really honest with you, I'm not a draft pick guy. You know that. I've taken the team to the bottom. We got Caron [Butler] at 10. We got Dwayne [Wade at five]. We got Beas [Michael Beasley] at two. We got Justise, we got Bam Adebayo. We got young players. You don't want to have too many young players.

"You look at a lot of these teams that are like rebuilding. All you need in this town is five years of what Philadelphia went into [he seemed to be facetious with this]. Joel Embiid is in his fourth year because he had all these injuries. Ben Simmons gets drafted and he had surgery and misses the whole year but they've been around this game and they get an understanding of it.

"My feeling on draft picks? Yes, they're valuable. They're valuable to trade for veteran players that have talent if you can get one. When we traded two picks for Goran, I was looking at OK, we just lost LeBron. We got Goran, we got Wade, we got [Luol] Deng, we got Hassan and we got Chris [Bosh]. To me, that is a good enough team to get to the Eastern Conference Finals and maybe even further if it stayed intact. And we had nothing but adversity out of that that sort of paralyzed us with cap space.

"I believe every other year is good enough. If you can get players in free agency, young players 25 or 26 years old that need a place to

really develop, and then you get a pick, and then you get another young player, and then you get a pick, that's fine. The fact we don't

have a pick this year. Will we try to get one? Maybe. When you are drafting at 16, 17, 18, I would much rather have a Goran Dragic than

picks."

Riley said he disagrees with 76ers forward Ersan Ilyasova's comment about the Heat's arena being half empty. "I don't care what Ilyasova says. We have the greatest fans in the world. They just sip a little more wine before they come to the games," Riley cracked.

The Heat has ongoing the eighth-longest sellout streak in NBA history.

Riley's closing thoughts: If you look at the other 22 teams I'm talking about, just like us, we are a playoff team. But it's not good enough to just be a playoff team. I truly believe we were a playoff team last year. We didn't make it the last day of the season. Making the playoffs is not like wearing a badge of honor. It's your opportunity to do something significant.

We didn't do a very good job against Philadelphia. But I do believe that the number of players that we have that are good slash maybe one a little bit better, two a little bit better. I love our young core guys. I still think and believe Hassan can anchor in spite of what a

lot of people believe. And I think our core veteran players that are a little bit older, James Johnson, possibly Wayne Ellington, players,

Kelly Olynyks, those kind of guys that if we did nothing, we would be a playoff team. I believe they would be. But we are not going to ...

do nothing.

"To get what you're talking about that's our challenge. If that can happen, we will try to make that happen. If it can't happen,

we will try to make it happen in October. If it can't happen then, we will try to make it happen in February. Right now, this is what we

are, this is what we have. It's a playoff team. That's the way it is. It's finding possible that one transformative player and that's going

to be our challenge or being able to have one of our players develop into that. We have a couple guys that can [inaudible]."

One news item: Tyler Johnson had successful surgery on Monday to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb and is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

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