“We’re getting younger. Finally,” says Miami Heat president about team
Heat president Pat Riley said late Thursday night that he expects to add a couple of perimeter players this offseason but said he’s not going to trade the Heat’s top assets unless Miami could get a high-level player in return.
“Training camp will be about more competition,” he said. “I’m not sure anything is guaranteed to anybody. We have a good group of guys, a team that can grow. We will probably add a couple players to the mix that will change our perimeter look.”
But those players will need to be added through trades or by using the Heat’s taxpayer midlevel exception of $5.7 million or minimum contracts.
Asked whether he expects this to be largely his team next season or whether there’s a realistic chance of substantive change, Riley said: “There are possibilities. There are tons [of obstacles] but there are none. We will try to get past them and try to add more to the team if that’s a possibility. If we can’t, we’re not going to give away any more assets unless it’s a top tier player.”
Riley, whose team is well over next season’s $109 million salary cap, cracked “I’m not after whales anymore. I’m after orcas. I can’t get one anyway.
“If something like that were to present myself, we’ll have to look at that. In order to complete a transaction now for us to get the type of players all of you are used to having here, the Wades and Zos, it takes the right players at the right time. And I have to try to create that but we’ll see what happens.”
Riley again spoke optimistically about this roster.
“Based on what happened last year and maturity of some of our young players, with Bam Adebayo and the development of Derrick Jones and Kelly Olynyk, those guys that are the younger players – they are better than average players and getting better every day,” he said. “I can see the improvement since they’ve been here since rookies. They were stumbling around being here as young players. It doesn’t happen overnight with these guys. Those guys are ready to do something better than we did last year.”
Riley addressed other issues:
▪ He confirmed our Monday report about Hassan Whiteside’s intention to opt in and said Whiteside has not asked to be traded.
“There’s been nothing like that,” Riley said of the Heat potentially trading Whiteside. “I believe he is going to opt in and going to come to training camp like everybody else and earn it. That’s where we are right now with all of our players. Same thing with Goran [Dragic].”
▪ On Dragic’s future after he opted in for $19 million: “Right now, I believe Goran is our starting point guard. I know you [reporters] have Justise Winslow slotted in there.
“We want him to come back to training camp and looking for him to compete and win. At the same time, we try to find an avenue and a pathway to flexibility. He happens to be in the last year of his contract and he decided to opt in and I’m happy he’s doing it. There are no sacrificial lambs.”
▪ On Dion Waiters coming back in better shape: “He knows what he has to do. He’s been told what he has to do by Erik [Spoelstra] and me. You don’t have enough compassion or empathy for a player that probably had one of the worst ankle injuries. If he wasn’t in shape, he wouldn’t have been in that locker room. You will see something a hell of a lot different in September.”
▪ On James Johnson: “I thought JJ at times last year played extremely well. When Erik was filling out his game plan or rotation for the night, it’s based on a lot of different factors. JJ, not to make an excuse for him, because he’s a grown ass man, came off a pretty severe hernia. He came off something that was more serious.
“Both JJ and Dion, we need more from them. What we need more from them is to be in the best shape they can be in, in training camp, with the best health.”
▪ He said Udonis Haslem hasn’t said if he will return next season but that he took the team’s policy book with him “and wanted to make sure those covenants are enforced next year. We’re wide open. We had a great conversation about a lot of things. He told me he’s not finished yet with these guys, feels like he can do more mentoring.
“That can be done in any capacity, whether he wants to play or it’s in another capacity. He doesn’t want to, but I think he would be an exceptional coach. He’s the same kind of character and personality as Juwan Howard,” who left to coach Michigan.
▪ He said first-round pick Tyler Herro “has proven in his short time at Kentucky that he’s not only a great shooter, but he’s a competitor, he’s tough, and he can defend. We’re very excited to have him.”
Colleague Anthony Chiang will have a separate post with Riley’s comments about Herro. By league rule, Riley could not discuss second-round pick KZ Ozpala, the Stanford forward, and declined to elaborate on the Heat trading Bol Bol to Denver.
▪ News note: According to a source, former Georgetown forward Trey Mourning will be part of the Heat’s summer league team. He’s the son of Heat executive and former All-Star Alonzo Mourning.