A look at why Pat Riley lowered outside expectations for the Heat’s 2018 offseason

Miami Heat NBA basketball team president Pat Riley talks to the media during a season ending press conference in Miami, Wednesday, April 19, 2017. (David Santiago/El Nuevo Herald via AP)

MIAMI — A quiet draft night could turn into a quiet summer for the Heat.

Even with all of the rumors swirling around the futures of LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard, team president Pat Riley lowered outside expectations for the offseason and hinted they would not be involved in those discussions.

It’s not because of a lack of interest in those big-name players. It’s because of a lack of money due to the Heat’s unenviable salary-cap situation. Continue reading “A look at why Pat Riley lowered outside expectations for the Heat’s 2018 offseason”

Pat Riley ready to make pitch for Dwyane Wade to return to Heat

Miami’s Dwyane Wade watches a shot during the playoff series against Philadelphia in April. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

MIAMI – Pat Riley and Dwyane Wade have not had conversations about the Heat legend’s future, but Riley said now is the time to start to “focus” on all these decisions that impact next season.

Wade, 36, completed his 15th season in the league in 2017-18 after returning to Miami in a deadline day deal with the Cavaliers. He was effective coming off the bench and was one of the Heat’s two best players along with Goran Dragic during their short stay in the playoffs, averaging 16.6 points on 44.3 percent shooting in the five games.

Wade said following the Heat’s Game 5 loss in Philadelphia he will decide this summer if he will return, but if he does it will be with the Heat. He has not put a timetable on his decision.

“I haven’t talked to Dwyane,” Riley said early Friday morning following the NBA draft. “I’ve talked to his agent. I think now, over the next nine days between now and July 1st we can focus on all these things.”

Riley said he and Wade have “shared texts” and that Wade has “communicated on a regular basis with a lot of people in the organization but nothing has been decided with Dwyane. We want to have Dwyane back obviously but there’s been no discussion about next year.”

Wade has been busy this summer, jetting around the world, working on business projects and, yes, working out to stay prepared in case he returns. His most recent comments on this future came on Fox Sports Radio in an interview with former teammate, Caron Butler.

“If I decide to come back and play the game of basketball, I would love for it, obviously, to be in Miami,” he said. “It’s just crazy because in this league you never know what will happen. I never thought I would leave Miami. Caron knows that I thought I would be here forever, but things happen.”

Wade left Miami two summers ago and returned after one season in Chicago and a little more than half a season in Cleveland. He played on a minimum contract last season after agreeing to a buyout on his $23.8 million salary with the Bulls. Wade reportedly will seek the Heat’s $5.4 million mid-level exception if he decides to return for a 16th season.

Wade has been linked to close friend and Heat Lifer Udonis Haslem, who entered the league the same year as Wade but has played his entire 15 seasons for the Heat.

Haslem has made it clear he wants to return in 2018-19. Riley was asked Friday if there will be an offer on the table for Haslem.

“Absolutely,” Riley said. “Both Udonis and Dwyane are. … they’ve been together forever and they also deserve the respect to sit and wait on this thing. And so there’s no rush.”

Riley added that with Haslem becoming an “entrepreneur” he “can’t even talk to him anymore. I can invest with him, but I can’t get in touch with him.”

Haslem owns several Subway, Starbucks, Einstein Bros. and Auntie Anne’s franchises.

Haslem, who recently told reporters he is looking for more playing time and would go overseas if he had to, made the veteran minimum of $2.3 million last season.

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This may not be the summer Pat Riley is able to work his magic, which will leave Heat fans with an empty feeling again

Miami Heat President Pat Riley attends the NBA draft combine last month in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Barring a trade, the Miami Heat will be sitting out the NBA draft for just the third time in their history.

But don’t mistake that for Pat Riley sitting on a yacht off some tropical island and a “closed” sign being hung on the offices at 601 Biscayne Blvd.

The Heat certainly are open for business as the NBA’s offseason officially kicks off with Thursday’s draft and then hits a frenzied pace 10 days later with the start of free agency. Somehow, the Heat will manage to join the party – they seemingly always do – but will they become bystanders or can they find a way to become the life of the party?

Recent history has not been kind to the Heat. Miami has entered the last two summers full of hope and optimism just from getting sit-downs with the two most coveted free agents – Kevin Durant in 2016 and Gordon Hayward in 2017.

Admittedly a longshot both years – more so with Durant – Miami had to settle for Plan B, in both cases. In 2016 – and after losing Dwyane Wade – that meant basically starting over by offering one-year deals to lower-level free agents and develop its young core of Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow and Tyler Johnson. Last summer that meant holding onto free agents from the previous summer that showed promise – James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Wayne Ellington – and picking up a nice supplemental part, which the Heat did with the solid signing of Kelly Olynyk.

Which brings us to the summer of 2018.

After watching Durant being convinced to chase rings at Golden State and Brad Stevens convincing Hayward to turn back the clock to his college days in Boston, could the Heat be looking at having failed to meet their highest expectations for the third consecutive summer?

Miami has been as much a victim of its own success and Riley’s reputation as anything else. Few teams ever even make the final cut when it comes to the summer’s biggest catch, but the Heat seem to every year. They did in 2010 and capitalized, leading to two titles and four consecutive Finals appearances, which raised the bar even higher. They did again the last two summers, although the outcome was far less satisfying than 2010.

For every LeBron James and Chris Bosh there is a Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward. And while some may look at it as if Riley is losing his touch, just by getting in the door every year shows his reputation remains intact.

Throwing a bag of championship rings on the table still resonates.

So how will 2018 play out? The Heat enter this offseason in a much different place with no flexibility and few assets to offer as major trade bait. And this free agency class is top heavy with Durant, James, Chris Paul, Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins leading the way, with James, George and Cousins the realistic choices to switch teams.

And even without anything to offer, Riley still likely will get a sit-down with James. But getting in the door and closing the deal are two very different things. The only way James returns to Miami is for Riley and Andy Elisburg to pull off a stunning sign-and-trade that would involve convincing James the Heat are on the cusp of contending and then convincing Cavs owner Dan Gilbert to once again deal with Riley.

There is a better chance of Cleveland becoming the No. 1 tourist destination in the country than that happening.

Otherwise, Riley will be left to work his magic via a trade. But even those odds of obtaining someone like Kawhi Leonard appear stacked against the Heat. Still, Riley will not sit idly by. Leonard is not the only “transformative” player the Heat can pursue to improve this roster. Plenty of names will be discussed and several could be targeted by the Heat.

Players like Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, C.J. McCollum, John Wall and Andrew Wiggins to name a few could be explored. Any one of them would immediately become the best player on the Heat if acquired.

Yes, the pressure is on Riley to improve this team. The optics of bringing back this roster, one that won 44 games and lasted just five games in playoffs, intact would not be good. But Riley may have no choice and he raised that possibility following the season,.

I expect Riley to pull off some kind of deal to shake up this team even if it means putting the franchise in a better position for the future. Making a significant move, though, will be very difficult. Heat fans may be left wanting for more – for the third consecutive year – but even Riley may not be able to work that magic this summer.

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The Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes is on. Should the Heat enter the mix?

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs stands on the court during Game One of the NBA Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors at ORACLE Arena on May 14, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

MIAMI — The wild NBA offseason has officially begun.

Multiple reports surfaced Friday afternoon that Kawhi Leonard wants out of San Antonio after a bizarre season in which he distanced himself from the team and organization while playing just nine games because of a quad injury. Continue reading “The Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes is on. Should the Heat enter the mix?”

Mailbag: Is there even a realistic way for the Heat to acquire LeBron James?

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts against the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

MIAMI — It’s time for another Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). You can also email me at achiang@pbpost.com. Continue reading “Mailbag: Is there even a realistic way for the Heat to acquire LeBron James?”

LeBron James visits with Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem in Miami during NBA playoffs

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6), Miami Heat shooting guard Dwyane Wade (3) and Miami Heat power forward Udonis Haslem (40) walk off the floor dejected during second half action of game one of the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs Thursday June 06, 2013, at American Airlines Arena in Miami.(Bill Ingram/Palm Beach Post)

HOLLYWOOD — During the Cavaliers’ long playoff run, LeBron James visited Udonis Haslem and Dwyane Wade in Miami.

When asked about the possibility of James returning to the Heat this offseason, Haslem revealed Thursday that James visited Miami during a break in the playoffs. Continue reading “LeBron James visits with Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem in Miami during NBA playoffs”

Heat make qualifying offer to Derrick Jones Jr. before start of free agency. Here’s what it means …

Miami Heat’s Derrick Jones Jr. during an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

MIAMI — The Heat have extended a qualifying offer to two-way contract player Derrick Jones Jr., the Palm Beach Post has confirmed.

The move is not a surprise, as it makes Jones a restricted free agent and allows the Heat to match offers from other teams this summer. The Heat had until June 29 to extend the qualifying offer. Continue reading “Heat make qualifying offer to Derrick Jones Jr. before start of free agency. Here’s what it means …”

Mailbag: What’s standing between the Heat re-signing Wayne Ellington this summer?

Miami Heat’s Wayne Ellington (2) attempts a three-point basket as New York Knicks’ Frank Ntilikina, of France, defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, in Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

MIAMI — It’s time for another Heat mailbag.

If you weren’t able to ask a question this time, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44). You can also email me at achiang@pbpost.com. Continue reading “Mailbag: What’s standing between the Heat re-signing Wayne Ellington this summer?”

A rundown of eight big questions entering NBA offseason: What will happen with LeBron James, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard?

In this Tuesday, May 9, 2017, file photo, San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard (2) and forward LaMarcus Aldridge (12) walk upcourt during the second half of Game 5 in a second-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Houston Rockets in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

MIAMI — The Warriors have been crowned NBA champions, and just like that the most exciting offseason in sports has begun.

There are plenty of intriguing storylines entering the summer like LeBron James’ future, the Kawhi Leonard-Spurs situation and Paul George’s impending free agency. Here’s a rundown with the eight biggest questions of the 2018 NBA offseason, including our predictions for how each will play out. Continue reading “A rundown of eight big questions entering NBA offseason: What will happen with LeBron James, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard?”

LeBron James will reportedly speak with Heat this summer. Here’s what James had to say about his uncertain future

LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on in the second half against the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 8, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

LeBron James’ season is over, but an important offseason is just beginning for him.

The Warriors completed the 4-0 sweep of James and the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals on Friday to become back-to-back NBA champions. With the power to become a free agent this summer, James now has a few weeks to figure out the most logical path to take down the dynasty Golden State has become.

And according to multiple Las Vegas sports books and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, the Heat will be one of the teams in the mix for James. Smith said this week the 14-time All-Star will “have a conversation” with seven teams this offseason: the Cavaliers, Warriors, Celtics, Sixers, Lakers, Rockets and Heat. Continue reading “LeBron James will reportedly speak with Heat this summer. Here’s what James had to say about his uncertain future”