UPDATED: Heat’s Pat Riley lapping Phil Jackson’s success in front office

Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson and Head Coach of the Miami Heat Pat Riley share a laugh before the game on December 25, 2005 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Lakers 97-92. (Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
Head Coach of the Los Angeles Lakers Phil Jackson and Head Coach of the Miami Heat Pat Riley share a laugh before the game on December 25, 2005 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. The Heat defeated the Lakers 97-92. (Photo by Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

Being a successful NBA player does not always mean you’d make a successful NBA executive.

Why? Because for every Pat Riley, there is a Phil Jackson.

Both Riley and Jackson were good NBA players who became great NBA coaches. Both coached the Los Angeles Lakers to multiple NBA championships, and Jackson won 11 rings overall when you include the six he won with the Chicago Bulls.

But they have fared differently in the front office. When comparing their front-office careers, Riley has longevity over Jackson, but it’s fair to say that, so far, the “Zen Master” has nothing to compare to the calming hand “The Godfather” has used to steer the Heat through good and bad times.

And today, Jackson’s time as an executive came to an end when it was reported that he and the Knicks are parting ways. Jackson, 71, likely is  done as a top executive given his disastrous run in N.Y.

Here’s a quick breakdown of how they’ve fared:

Phil Jackson

  • Became President of Basketball Operations of the New York Knicks in March 2014.
  • Leaves with the Knicks going 80-166 in his three full seasons as team president, losing at least 50 games in each season.
  • Hired one of his former players, Derek Fisher — who had recently retired and had no head coaching experience — to coach the Knicks after firing Mike Woodson, who had gone 109-79 in parts of three seasons in New York.
  • Re-signed Carmelo Anthony in the 2014 offseason to a deal that included veto power over the Knicks trading him without his approval.
  • In the 2014-15 season, the Knicks set a franchise mark with 16 straight losses and went 17-65, their worst record ever.
  • Drafted Kristaps Porzingis fourth overall in 2015.
  • Fired Derek Fisher in Feb. 2016 after a 1-9 stretch left the Knicks with a 23-31 record.
  • In a surprise move, hired Jeff Hornacek in June 2016 to replace interim coach Kurt Rambis. Hornacek had been fired earlier in the year by Phoenix.
  • Has used Twitter and other passive-aggressive means to ridicule and undermine Anthony.

Pat Riley

  • Stepped down as head coach of the Heat to turn his full attention to being team president after the 2002-03 season.
  • Drafted Dwyane Wade fifth overall in 2003.
  • In 2004, traded Caron Butler, Brian Grant, Lamar Odom and a first-round draft pick to the Los Angeles Lakers for Shaquille O’Neal, who was disgruntled with the Lakers.
  • Took over as head coach again during the 2005-06 season after he pushed out Stan Van Gundy.
  • With O’Neal and Wade, the Heat won their first NBA championship in June 2006, defeating the Dallas Mavericks 4-2.
  • In 2008 after the Heat finished 15-67, Riley stepped down as head coach again but remained team president and promoted Erik Spoelstra to head coach. Spoelstra has proven to be an inspired hire and is now the second-longest-tenured coach in the league behind Gregg Popovich.
  • In 2010, Riley signed free agents LeBron James and Chris Bosh to team up with Wade, forming a trio that would play in four straight NBA Finals and win two championships.
  • Won the 2011 NBA Executive of the Year award.
  • Did not re-sign Wade, the face of the franchise, in the summer of 2016, instead opting to rebuild the team around a young core. Miami entered the week with a 24-31 record, but had won 13 of their last 14 despite a roster shortened by injuries to its young stars and made up of castoffs, journeymen and unproven players.

Luol Deng’s classy goodbye to Heat, South Florida

Luol Deng is gone, but he loved his time in Miami. (Getty Images)
Luol Deng is gone, but he loved his time in Miami. (Getty Images)

Luol Deng was one of the most misunderstood players in recent Heat history. He was their most consistent player the past two years and did a disproportionate amount of dirty work without ever complaining. He is a slasher by nature, but Miami asked him to space the floor as a spot-up 3-point shooter. He made it work. He’s played small forward his entire career, but switched full-time to power forward last season because Chris Bosh went down. He made that work, too.
Continue reading “Luol Deng’s classy goodbye to Heat, South Florida”

Heat’s Luol Deng agrees to $72 million deal with Lakers

Luol Deng is leaving Miami. (Getty Images)
Luol Deng is leaving Miami. (Getty Images)

As expected, Luol Deng won’t be back with the Heat next season.
Continue reading “Heat’s Luol Deng agrees to $72 million deal with Lakers”

Sources: Lakers will ‘aggressively pursue’ free agent Hassan Whiteside

Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat celebrates the 97-78 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on November 27, 2015 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Hassan Whiteside #21 of the Miami Heat celebrates the 97-78 win over the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on November 27, 2015 in New York City.NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Pat Riley has said that re-signing Hassan Whiteside is the No. 1 priority of the Miami Heat’s offseason. It seems he’ll have some fierce competition for the free-agent center.

Sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein that the Los Angeles Lakers plan to aggressively pursue Whiteside — who had a breakout season for the Heat — when NBA free agency starts at 12:01 a.m. on July 1.

With rim protection and perimeter shooting ranking as the Lakers’ foremost areas of concern heading into the open market, sources told ESPN.com that Whiteside has emerged a priority target for L.A.

The Lakers, like the Heat, are still hopeful of securing a face-to-face recruiting meeting with Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant once free agency season commences. … But the Lakers, sources say, are highly intrigued by Whiteside and what he could bring them as a double-double presence inside.

The 27-year-old Whiteside averaged career highs in points (14.2), rebounds (11.8) and blocks (3.7 to lead the league) per game this past season while playing a major part in the Heat side that reached the second round of the playoffs.

In addition to the Lakers and Heat, the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers are also both hoping to meet with Whiteside early in the free agency period.

“What he brought to us is this incredible, state-of-the-art talent,” Riley said in May. “He’s overcome a lot, but the question is now can you carry a team? That’s going to take a lot more focus and discipline and growth and understanding about what winning is all about and I think he’s ready for that.”

The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Friday night that the Heat are one of six teams expected to get a meeting with free agent Kevin Durant. This is ultimately good news for Miami, but the situation could get complicated if the Heat look to see where they stand with Durant before making a strong push for Whiteside.

With the cap expected to jump to $94 million this summer, the Heat will have about $42 million in cap space when free agency begins. With Whiteside expected to draw max offers with a projected starting annual salary of $22 million and Durant expected to sign a max deal with a projected starting annual salary of $26.4 million this summer, Miami will have a hard time trying to fit both on its roster.

The Heat don’t own full Bird rights for Whiteside, so they can’t go over the salary cap up to the NBA maximum to keep the 27-year-old and they are limited to offering him a four-year contract — the same as other teams can offer Whiteside.

But Miami does have one advantage in the Whiteside sweepstakes. Whiteside’s two seasons with the Heat gives the franchise Early Bird rights for him, which allows Miami to offer Whiteside a 7.5 percent raise from his first-year salary compared to a 4.5 percent raise from other teams.

This means that the Heat can offer Whiteside a four-year contract worth about $98 million, while other teams can offer him a four-year contract worth approximately $94 million.

2016 NBA Draft: Three moves that get Miami Heat’s attention

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As far as their own team is concerned, the Heat were fine going into tonight’s NBA Draft without any picks. That confidence is in part because they nailed last year’s draft with the pick-ups of Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson.

The Celtics finished with the same record as Miami last year and got a head start on 2016-17 with Thursday's move. (Getty Images)
The Celtics finished with the same record as Miami last year and got a head start on 2016-17 with tonight’s addition of Jaylen Brown. (Getty Images)

Still, any gain by the competition is a loss for Miami. As it sat idle during the draft, several teams it’s trying to outrun made what appear to be significant improvements. Here are the three that have the biggest impact on the Heat:
Continue reading “2016 NBA Draft: Three moves that get Miami Heat’s attention”

2016 NBA free agents: Four tempting scenarios for Dwyane Wade

Does Wade love James enough to go to Cleveland? (Getty Images)
Does Wade love James enough to go to Cleveland? (Getty Images)

As usual, there’s almost no chance Dwyane Wade leaves Miami this summer. Almost.

With the end of his career looming, this is one of Wade’s final opportunities to explore anything else that entices him. He’s never given voice to any dream of playing somewhere else, but here are four possibilities that must’ve crossed his mind as we near July 1:
Continue reading “2016 NBA free agents: Four tempting scenarios for Dwyane Wade”

Laker hides behind coach, steals ball from Goran Dragic (video)

Goran Dragic got stripped in the sneakiest way possible by Marcelo Huertas. (Getty Images)
Goran Dragic got stripped in the sneakiest way possible by Marcelo Huertas. (Getty Images)

Can Goran Dragic really be blamed for what happened on Marcelo Huertas’ steal?
Continue reading “Laker hides behind coach, steals ball from Goran Dragic (video)”

NBA playoff scenario: Heat hurt by loss to Lakers

This was a brutal loss for the Heat to absorb as they fight for a playoff seed. (Getty Images)
This was a brutal loss for the Heat to absorb as they fight for a playoff seed. (Getty Images)

A favorable schedule doesn’t mean anything for the Heat if they’re going to lose games like this.
Continue reading “NBA playoff scenario: Heat hurt by loss to Lakers”

Dwyane Wade shares his favorite Kobe Bryant story

This story was originally published on March 30, 2016.

Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant in a Christmas Day game in 2004. (Getty Images)
Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant in a Christmas Day game in 2004. (Getty Images)

Dwyane Wade admits that no one other than him would remember this moment, but he’ll never forget it.

With the Heat visiting the Lakers tonight for the final time in Kobe Bryant’s career, Wade shared his all-time favorite memory of playing against him:
Continue reading “Dwyane Wade shares his favorite Kobe Bryant story”

Justise Winslow says he’s fine after hurting knee

Justise Winslow hurt his right knee late in Monday's game, but believes he will not miss time. (Getty Images)
Justise Winslow hurt his right knee late in Monday’s game, but believes he will not miss time. (Getty Images)

There was a gasp throughout AmericanAirlines Arena when Justise Winslow went down hard late in the win over Brooklyn on Monday, banging his right knee, and headed to the locker room.

The initial assessment is that he’s fine and should not miss any time. Winslow thought he could have stayed in the game, but opted to get it looked at as a precaution.

“I felt like I could at least walk it off, but there were three minutes left and we were up 13,” said Winslow, who has been dealing with tendinitis in that knee. “The win was pretty much in the bag, so I just went back and got it checked out by docs.”

The Heat will do a brief run up the West Coast, playing at the Lakers on Wednesday, followed by a back-to-back against Sacramento and Portland starting Friday.

“It’s nothing major,” he said. “I should be ready to go by the road trip.”

[Is Dwyane Wade joking about this Kobe Bryant thing?]

[Wade, veteran Heat players in surprisingly great shape for this time of year]

[All the crazy details on Justise Winslow’s 20th birthday bash]