MIAMI – Heat President Pat Riley met today with the print media, recapping free agency and looking ahead to a season in which he expressed excitement to see what the team can do.
Here are some highlights from Riley’s meeting:
* On Kelly Olynyk: Riley said the Heat first made contact with Olynyk’s agent “from 35,000 feet,” as they were returning from L.A. to meet with Dion Waiters. He was a bit nervous about James Johnson and Waiters waiting out Gordon Hayward, more so Waiters. Then, “as soon as we found out that Gordon was not going to be with us we moved quickly on all of them.”
* More Olynyk: Riley said the Heat believe Olynyk has “always been an X factor with the Celtics.” He said Olynyk is a perfect fit for center Hassan Whiteside and called him a “hybrid” player and “excellent defender.” Coach Erik Spoelstra has typed a workout program for Olynyk but Riley said Olynyk is “in pretty good shape, he’s not in our kind of shape. We’ll just get him in better shape.” As far as man bun Olynyk vs. long hair Olynyk, “I don’t give a damn,” Riley said, laughing.
* On Wayne Ellington: “It would have killed me to see him go,” Riley said. “He committed himself just like everybody else. Like JJ and Dion, he changed how he played. I look at Wayne like a Udonis, JJ type of personality. He’s one of the best catch-and-shoot players in the league. And he’s such a great person.”
* Riley said the long term contracts were by design. “I wanted to tie up our young guys. They are assets. We don’t look at our players as assets but they are assets if something comes (available) along the way. I’m not thinking that way, but we have them.” To that point, he said this team reminds him of the 2004 team of which he never believed so many of them (Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom) would be traded. But used that as an example of how a franchise altering player could become available like Shaquille O’Neal and it’s best to be positioned with some assets to trade.
* The Heat used “every last dollar” under the cap to make it work with Olynyk, Johnson, Waiters and Ellington. And Riley gives all the credit to GM Andy Elisburg. “The agents out there really know the room. They know every last dollar you have and squeezed every last dollar. We have no room. That’s a testimony to Andy. His number crunching, his mind to go through from the draft to free agency, he’s the star of this whole thing. I could never do this without him.” Riley’s last text back to Elisburg: “Winning is like taking your last breath. I’m glad we spent every last dollar.”
* Riley is happy with what he’s seen from rookie Bam Adebayo in the summer leagues: “We have seen exactly what we saw and why we drafted him. He’s a super athletic, above the rim player. We’ve seen his coast-to-coast game.” The biggest step for Adebayo will be to get more comfortable shooting the ball.
* On Josh McRoberts: “I loved Josh. He just had some horrific bad luck. He’s had a tough time with it. I had great compassion for Josh. It was time for him to find another place, for us to move on.” He added, if healthy, he believes he’ll have a banner year in Dallas and then, “he will be in the market and guess what, we can go after him again.” Riley then laughed before adding. “I’m just saying.”
* Riley said the Heat are not expected to use their $4.3 million exception but he likes having it in case something happens. As for that exception, he does not believe Miami needs a true backup point guard. “This has become a combination guard league. Even if you look at the point guards in the league they’re not pure point guards. You’ve got to be a two-way guard now.”
* Riley said the best way to catch Golden State may not be to do it the way Golden State has done it. “Golden State grew organically, they drafted well but they also made some very good acquisitions. Today to catch them, if you are going to do the organic trip, it’s going to take a long time.” He said signing that one super star to add to an already rising team may be the best way.