MIAMI: Pat Riley is in his usual place entering the offseason. If there’s a way to make the Miami Heat better, he’s all ears.
The Heat president raved Monday about what his team was able to do this season, earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and making the East finals. But that’s not what Miami aspires to, and the fact that there’s an NBA Finals going on without the Heat involved means changes could certainly happen.
“You have to be, I think, very proactive in looking at how you’re going to improve,” Riley said.
Such was the approach in 2004, when the Heat landed Shaquille O’Neal on the way to winning a title in 2006. Such was the approach in 2010, when the Heat landed LeBron James and Chris Bosh on the way to four NBA Finals appearances and two titles. Such was the approach in 2019, when the Heat — despite having basically zero cap space — was able to acquire Jimmy Butler and make the finals a year later.
And expect more of the same this summer. If a team out there wants to deal, Riley made clear he’ll listen.
“You can always think about running it back and be successful,” Riley said. “But is that going to be what’s going to lead to a championship? And that’s all you think about.”
The Heat have their three biggest pieces — Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry — under contract for multiple seasons. They have draft picks and flexibility to move them if needed, plus cap space, plus interest in retaining free-agent-in-waiting Victor Oladipo and, if he opts out, P.J. Tucker.
“I think we all realize that you can always use more,” Riley said. “Especially when you’ve gone through a season, then you’ve gotten the result, then you can analyze the result and why it wasn’t as good as you thought it should be. We’re always going to try to improve the team.
Miami went 53-29 in the regular season, then topped Atlanta and Philadelphia in the playoffs before falling to Boston in the East finals — losing a Game 7 at home to miss out on the chance of facing Golden State for a championship. The Celtics and Warriors have split the first two games of the title series, with Game 3 in Boston on Wednesday.
“I thought we had an absolutely great year,” Riley said. “It was a tremendous story that was developing. But with a lot of stories, the endings aren’t very good. But I thought we had a year we could really be proud of.”