Miami Heat Mailbag: Is there a plan in place for Pat Riley’s successor? Can a star be acquired next year?

Andy Elisburg, Pat Riley and Nick Arison celebrated the Miami Heat’s championship in 2013 (Getty Images)

The dog days of the NBA calendar are around the corner so Heat fans are starting to look into the future, on and off the court.

We look at that day when Pat Riley decides to ride off to Malibu, the chances of the Heat acquiring a star player – either through a trade or free agency – next year and more.

If you weren’t able to ask a question, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter to @Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44.

From @Diehardheatfan1: What do you think Pat Riley’s big move will be moving forward down the road? Do you foresee him getting a superstar? If so, who?

Let’s put it this way, if there is one available Riley and the Heat will be in the conversation. The biggest reason is now he has the assets, even though that does not include draft picks. Riley has several more players on affordable, reasonable annual contracts since the James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Kelly Olynyk signings that could be used in a package for a star player or to open cap space to sign a big name free agent.

As to who will become available, that’s difficult to say. Two years ago nobody believed the Bulls would move Jimmy Butler and a year ago Paul George being traded from Indiana wasn’t even a thought. Right now the thought is possibly New Orleans’ DeMarcus Cousins, who will be a free agent next summer. But the chances are other stars will be on the market, too, by the end of the upcoming season or, if the plan is to pursue a player through free agency, Miami could make moves to open cap space.

From @abdrrhmnkyklk: If Riley were to step down today, who would replace him? Spo as a coach-president with Elisburg serving as GM or Elisburg as GM directly?

The question every Heat fans never wants to know the answer to because that means Pat Riley is retiring. We all know the day is coming. But when?

In September Riley said he and Micky Arison have talked about a successor plan and several names likely came up, one being Spoelstra who has been mentored by Riley since both arrived in Miami in the summer of 1995.

Spoelstra loves coaching and he has no desire move on just yet. But he did address the possibility of having a role similar to Riley’s one day during a podcast with The Vertical following the season.

“I’m a Pat Riley disciple,” he said. “He’s always pushed me and nurtured me for the next step, so yes. I would love to have that opportunity years down the line for the Arison family because I believe in them so much as human beings. They’re such good people and family oriented.”

The Heat hired Shane Battier in February to head the analytics department and some speculated Battier was being groomed to be Riley’s replacement. And of course there is Elisburg, the man Riley continually praises for his knowledge and ability to put together a deal.

“Whatever one day Micky or Nick (Arison) wants to do then I think they have a good blend of people,” Riley said last week. “One thing about that, now there’re a lot of opinions, there’re a lot of voices. As people begin to grow in an organization, they want more of a position, more say. Their opinions are stronger. They have more confidence, which I do like. Andy and I get in arguments all the time.”

So to answer your question: To be determined.

From: ChrisHypeTrain: Opinions on Lonzo and reboot of the lakers?

Tom: Ball has been impressive and will help the Lakers. He clearly has been the story of summer league but remember, it is just summer league. Ball is more of a pure point guard that any of the top picks in the draft and the young players around him seem to trust his leadership and passing ability. In that sense he will help a young team like L.A. His scoring has surprised me but his shot remains a concern and it will be interesting if he has success with it at the NBA level. The Lakers will be improved but they are a long way from the playoffs.

Anthony: The Lakers won’t be a playoff team next season, but Ball sure does look impressive in summer league games. If Ball can continue to impress when the real games start, he could be another factor that helps Magic Johnson attract a star to Los Angeles. Will it be LeBron James or Paul George? Or maybe both? The Lakers are clearly planning to make a big splash next summer. But this upcoming season won’t be full of wins. It should be full of fun, though, with Ball running the show.

[LeBron James is back in Miami and he seems nostalgic]

[Heat President Pat Riley’s unique solution to stop teams from tanking]

[Could the Miami Heat be holding onto their exception for Dwyane Wade?]e, where do the Miami Heat stand?]

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Heat president Pat Riley says Magic Johnson would beat LeBron James 1-on-1

American Express Teamed Up with Magic Johnson and Pat Riley on Monday. (Photos by Andrew Bernstein, Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Pat Riley and Magic Johnson have had a unique relationship for nearly 40 years as allies and adversaries.

Now, not only are the two on opposite sides, but in the same capacity with Johnson joining the Lakers as team president this year, the same title Riley holds with the Miami Heat.

On Monday, the two were together at the “American Express Teamed Up” event in Los Angeles, as part of a panel moderated by Cari Champion. The Hall of Famers were asked questions about a variety of subjects including their time together in Los Angeles where they won four titles with Riley as the head coach and Magic the point guard, this year’s Finals and what would happen if they got together to talk trades.

Here are Riley’s views on different subjects courtesy ESPN’s Arash Markazi’s twitter feed:

On what will happen when they are talking about making a trade with each other:

“It depends on who calls who first. If I call him first then he ain’t going to say anything. If he calls me first I’m going to say, ‘I know that I can make your team better. .. Let’s have a conversation, let’s forget about the cap ramifications and start talking player personal. … I got a treasure of players. ..’”

On the best way to make a deal:

“Here’s what I believe, here’s what I learned from Jerry (West) and everybody that’s been in management is that if you go into any kind of a transaction and try to make a deal with a team it’s got to be fair. When it’s a fair deal and I really think it’s something that is going to help both teams, I will pay a nickel more. My daddy always told me ‘pay a nickel more,’ even though we didn’t have a nickel, ‘pay a nickel more for whatever it is you need.’ And I have an owner (Micky Arison) that will pay more than a nickel more. He’s got about 107 cruise ships out there.”

On what Magic will find out about being the Lakers’ president (and a dig involving Lonzo Ball):

“The one thing is he’s going to find out because he’s been away from the competition for so long. … When I went from coaching to the front office my first three months I was actually in fits because I had lost control. You lose control of the team and the game because you’re just selecting players. One thing you don’t want to do as the president is second guess your coach too much, don’t go into the locker room, don’t hang around too much.

“He was the all-time leader of all leaders on the Lakers. He’s going to sit up there in that box of his and when things aren’t going good the first year he’s going to want to go down there and be Lonzo Ball’s mentor. …

“I have a great owner in Micky Arison; his son Nick, who’s the CEO; (GM) Andy Elisburg, (VP player personnel) Chet Kammerer; (assistant GM) Adam Simon. Everybody that I have come in to the Heat with the last 22 years are with me so we’ve all been there together and Erik Spoelstra, our head coach is one of the great young sort of contemporary millennial coaches.”

Riley correcting Magic after Magic said the Cavaliers-Warriors rivalry is similar to the Lakers-Celtics in the 1980s:

“There’s a coaches standpoint and there’s a players standpoint. There’s no hatred in this series. When the Lakers and the Celtics where banging heads back in the ‘80s and we played each other we had to carry the albatross of the Lakers losing six times in the ‘60s to the Celtics. And so there was a lot of bitterness carried and had really built up. By the time we played in 1984, Earvin had won a title in 1980. Larry Bird had won his in ‘81. … Now Celtics-Lakers in ’84, we lose in a seven-game series. In ‘86 it was knock down. Kurt Rambis clothes lined. We beat them. There was great respect. I used to have this phrase all the time that you need to go out and play them tonight by showing them no respect but showing them great respect. There was really a dislike there and to this day it still sort of hangs around even when I see Larry and Danny (Ainge). Unless something happens in the Cleveland Golden State series it’s just going to be a game.”

On the Warriors-Cavaliers Final:

“I don’t want to say this because I don’t want to be disrespectful to any of the players because they are all stars, but there are two really dynamic off-the-charts players on both teams then there are other players who are great, great, great players and then there’s the casts that come off the bench but also are great players. I see talent, great coaching, great organization, very high IQ players that have poise and are mature and all of these things are going on in very chaotic moments. One play or two plays can change the course of a game or the course of a series.”

On what Cleveland has to do now trailing 2-0 and equating it to his first two titles in Miami:

“They got to win four out of five. Now people say that’s impossible but you can go back in the history of the NBA, just with us. In 2006 when we won the title with Shaquille (O’Neal) we lost the first two games in Dallas badly, we won four in a row. (Kevin Durant) beat us in OKC in the first game (in 2012), we won four in a row. Things can happen. I wasn’t very good at this but I would try to get them to forget bad games very quickly. So my advice would be forget the quick trip to the Bay Area, it’s over. It wasn’t a nightmare it was an experience and when you get home you just need to win two games and things can change quickly.”

On comparing Magic to LeBron James:

“LeBron is the closest thing to Earvin we have ever seen because of his size, his speed, his acceleration, his vision, everything that he can do. (Magic) could have scored 30 points a game if he wanted to. He didn’t have to score because of Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and James (Worthy) and everybody else we had. But he is a winner, LeBron is a winner. The way that LeBron plays the game now, coast-to-coast, handles the ball, runs the offense, it’s just like Earvin. … Same mold, same DNA.”

On why Magic would defeat LeBron one-on-one:

“Because he would never call a foul and LeBron would respect him as an elder he’d win.”

Finally, the highlight of the night. Watch here as Magic and Riley dance to George Benson’s Love X Love and sing Jeffery Osborne’s You Should Be Mine.

 

[Miami Heat captain Udonis Haslem on the summer: ‘I think the goal is to keep the group together’]

[Mailbag: Who are the Miami Heat’s biggest competitors for free agent Dion Waiters?]

[Do Heat need another ‘super team’ to compete with Warriors and Cavaliers? Udonis Haslem says, ‘No’]

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Mailbag: Who are the Miami Heat’s biggest competitors for free agent Dion Waiters?

 

Will another team make Heat guard Dion Waiters and offer he cannot refuse? (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The Miami Heat have said they want him back. And guard Dion Waiters certainly has sent out strong signals he would like to return.

But will it happen?

That not only depends on the Heat’s offer but what other teams think of Waiters, and if anybody makes him an offer he cannot refuse.

Who could that be? We answer that and more in today’s Heat mailbag. If you weren’t able to ask a question this week, send your questions for future mailbags via Twitter (@Anthony_Chiang and @tomdangelo44).

From @SrMayo1: Do you see any teams with a big enough need at the 2 to offer (Dion Waiters) $18 million plus?

Even if the market is that high for Waiters (my guess is closer to $15 million a year), two teams come to mind:

The Lakers are overhauling their backcourt. They could take point guard Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick and shooting guard Nick Young, who has been shopped the last few years, is expected to decline his player option for $5.6 million and become a free agent. Add to that the Lakers will have about $24 million in cap space and, most importantly, Waiters’ former agent, Rob Pelinka, is the Lakers new general manager. Pelinka is in a interesting situation. After having spent years trying to convince teams to pony up for his clients, now he will be trying to make deals with some of those same players to come to L.A. for less money than they’ll be seeking. But if Magic Johnson likes the idea of a Ball-Waiters backcourt it just might happen.

Philadelphia likely will be the only team with more money to spend than the Heat. The Sixers need help in the backcourt, are looking to boost their 3-point shooting and Waiters is from Philadelphia, having been born and raised there. J.J. Redick has been linked to the Sixers. Although Redick, 32, is seven years older than Waiters, Philadelphia reportedly is seeking more of a veteran presence in the backcourt, a player who has playoff experience. But if Redick is looking for a better situation the Sixers could make a run at Waiters.

From @AsherWildMan6: with the way teams want bigs that can shoot, how come John Collins from Wake doesn’t get much love for Heat pick? 6-10 forward that has proven to be a scorer. I’m not saying he is Draymond, but with McRoberts back, he can also play back up center and add the element of outside shooting which Whiteside does not have. Also assuming Reed walks.

A few mock drafts had Collins going to the Heat early but some have backed off and now only Bleacher Report is sticking to that projection. UCLA’s T.J. Leaf, Indiana’s OG Anunoby and Duke’s Harry Giles now appear to be the more popular choices for the Heat. And many see how Luke Babbitt stretched the floor as the starting power forward last year and think Leaf is a better fit because of his outside shooting. Collins still is in the mix but been showing up in the 15-18 range more.

Also, I think a lot depends on who the Heat are more confident in re-signing among James Johnson and Waiters as to whether they draft a wing or a power forward. If they are confident they can sign both I believe they will pick the player they believe is the best among those from those two positions.

[South Florida is paying attention to the 2017 NBA Finals. A look at the numbers …]

[Do Heat need another ‘super team’ to compete with Warriors and Cavaliers? Udonis Haslem says, ‘No’]

[Will Dion Waiters give the Heat a hometown discount in free agency? Waiters didn’t rule it out]

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Magic Johnson tapping into his mentor, Miami Heat’s Pat Riley, in his early days as Lakers president

 

Magic Johnson is sounding a lot like Heat president Pat Riley since Magic was named president of the Lakers. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Magic Johnson is learning from the best.

The Hall of Famer and new Lakers president said on ESPN Los Angeles that he’s been talking to his Heat counterpart (and former coach) Pat Riley and he already has picked up on a phrase Riley repeated several times this season.

In a 23-minute conversation, Magic dropped the phrase “world class” shape five times when talking about the demands he will make on the Lakers in 2017-18. Riley used the phrase four times last month when he met with the media and coach Erik Spoelstra said it five times.

“We had too much body fat on everybody so we want everybody to drop that body fat, get into world class shape,” Magic said. “Those who don’t come in world class shape are not going to be playing. … Get into shape or find a new home.”

When informed by host and former Miami radio personality Jorge Sedano he was bringing back memories of his days covering the Heat and listening to Riley, Magic quickly said:

“Guess who I got it from.”

Magic was asked if had talked with Riley.

“Oh yeah, I talked to Pat,” he said. “Going to see Pat in a week.” Magic went on to say that not only are Golden State and Cleveland the two best teams in the NBA but they also are “the two best conditioned teams. Look at LeBron, oh my goodness, this guy is not slowing down because he’s in world class shape. And that whole team is in great condition. Look at Golden State, the way they move the ball and the way they keep moving coming off screens. … you got to be in world class shape to do that and I think we have to get in world class shape to be able to get better.”

    Magic’s introduction to emphasizing conditioning started nearly 40 years ago when Riley became his head coach with the Lakers. In order to become the Showtime Lakers, a team that pushed the ball to exhaustion, they first had to get into “world class” shape.

“We ran for 45 minutes straight before we even shot the basketball,” Magic said. “We were in such great condition that we could run for four quarters.”

Riley spoke about his team’s work ethic, when rehashing the season in April. And though making it clear he was not satisfied with not making the playoffs, he was happy with the way his team went about its business, especially during its 30-11 run in the second half.

“I give them the credit because they took advantage of something that a lot of players sometimes wouldn’t do it, or do it half assed,” he said. “These guys went all the way and I was so impressed and proud of them. Then they saw the results of that. So we moved it up from best condition to world class.

“And I think world class is what it’s about. If you don’t want to be a world class athlete then what are you doing? You’re wasting your time. All you’re doing is making money and probably having a short career and being very frustrated. In order to get the best out of yourself, you have to get to this point first and then let the coaches take care of the development part and let the head coach take care of how he sees you as a world class athlete developing your skills.”

One area Magic differs from Riley is his willingness to reveal who the Lakers are bringing in for pre-draft workouts. While Riley has the Heat tightlipped on the players they have invited to Miami to work out and interview, Magic said the Lakers will meet with Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Josh Jackson and De’Aaron Fox among others.

The Lakers have the second and 28th picks in the draft while the Heat will pick 14th.

[What kind of player could the Miami Heat sign if they bring back James Johnson and Dion Waiters?]

[Offseason proves there are no ‘fake gym rats’ on Miami Heat roster]

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UPDATE: Pat Riley on competing against Larry Bird: ‘We wanted to inflict pain on them, they wanted to do the same to us’

 

 

Pat Riley chats with Larry Bird prior to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremony in Springfield, Mass. in 2012. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

Pat Riley and Larry Bird have competed for nearly four decades in different roles, but one thing remained constant whether one was a player or both were a coach or executive.

“We’ve had a long time and in some, way, shape or form we have always been able to keep it at the level of pure competition,” Riley told The Palm Beach Post today.

“I have nothing but the utmost respect for him from that standpoint.”

Bird’s decision last week to step down as the Pacers’ president of basketball operations likely ends a competition that started nearly 40 years ago and followed each of these Hall of Famers through different stages of their careers.

For those keeping score: Teams in which Riley and Bird have held jobs as a player (Bird) or coach or executives (both) have met 141 times with Riley holding an 81-60 edge.

This includes Bird’s time as a player in Boston, executive in Boston and Indiana and three years as a coach in Indiana.

For Riley, this covers his time as a coach with the Lakers, Knicks and Heat and executive with the Heat.

The relationship, though, got off to a rocky start – like so many in sports when two teams are measured by what they do against each other.

But over the years it turned to respect and then admiration. Although Riley and Bird never will be friends the way Magic Johnson and Bird have become, they are two of the greatest competitors in the history of all sports.

“There’s a huge difference in the mentality today of players than there was back then,” Riley said of grudge matches between his Lakers and Bird’s Celtics in the 1980s.

“If you told the player don’t fraternize with a player on the opposite team, he wouldn’t do it. Today it’s like a lovefest. I know that Larry is off the same mind-set I’m in when you’re sports mortal enemies to beat one another. But there really is a genuine deep respect that I have for him and he had for Magic, we had for each other. The rivalry went far beyond that. We wanted to win, we wanted to beat them. We wanted to inflict pain on them and they wanted to do the same to us. That’s just the way it was.”

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At 60, Bird is 12 years younger than Riley, but has reached that point where he’ll take a reduced role in the organization as a scout and adviser as he slides into retirement.

“I felt it was time to step away in a full-time capacity,” Bird said Monday. “This has nothing to do with my health or our team. I’m 60 years old and I want to do other things away from basketball.”

The competition between Riley and Bird started Dec. 28, 1979, Bird’s rookie season with the Celtics and Riley’s first year on the Lakers bench as an assistant coach. The Lakers won that game 128-105 and Bird scored 16 points.

A true rivalry was being born.

“When Auerbach drafted him and then pulled off the trade to get (Kevin) McHale and (Robert) Parish at the same time, it started the rivalry of all rivalries,” Riley said about the Celtics former coach and president, the late Red Auerbach.

Riley would move over to head coach two years later, turning the Lakers into “Showtime.” The Celtics were the antithesis of the Lakers on the East Coast, dominating with a style that some said bordered on thuggery. The two would become hated rivals, meeting three times in the Finals, with the Celtics winning that physical series in 1984 and the Lakers breaking through in 1985 and winning again in 1987.

Riley got the better of Bird while coach of the Lakers with those two titles and winning 22-of-38 games overall.

Riley said the hard-nosed, competitive feelings started to thaw when Bird retired as a player in 1992.

“We would see each other, especially when he was a coach at coach’s meetings,” Riley said, adding he and Bird talk on the phone “occasionally, very occasionally.”

The rivalry took on another dimension in 1997 when Bird was named coach of the Pacers. Riley was starting his third season in Miami. They met 12 times as opposing coaches, Bird winning seven. Bird coached just three seasons but captured one Coach of the Year award and took the Pacers to the 2000 Finals, losing to the Lakers.

In 2003, Bird moved into the Pacers’ front office and Riley shed his title of coach, remaining as president only. Riley, though, did return as head coach for two-plus years starting early in the 2005 season.

The two had a long run of pitting teams against one another that they built. And although it come out nearly even during the regular season – Bird 33, Riley 32 – the Heat and  Riley eliminated the Pacers in the postseason with Bird in charge in 2012 and 2014, both during the Heat’s Big Three era.

“Both of us knew that both teams would always be very competitive,” Riley said. “And it wasn’t because of Larry and myself. Larry was playing against Magic back in the ’80s. When we were coaching against each other, when he took his team to the Finals. It was different but it was the same kind of thing in that he knew my teams were going to be ready and I knew his teams were going to be ready. I knew what to expect from him and he knew what to expect from me.

“But once you move off the playing court, off of the bench, it’s a different kind of competition from GMs. GMs don’t look at it that way the way players do, the way coaches do. I think he’s done a great job, especially in the years against the Big Three. Those were the best teams he put together. They just couldn’t beat our team.”

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Heat president Pat Riley calls resting players a ‘travesty;’ calls out ‘entitled’ players

 

When coaching the Lakers, Pat Riley would rest Magic Johnson, but only late in the season to get ready for the playoffs. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Pat Riley believes he started a trend that has become a “travesty.”

The Heat president was coach of the Lakers back in 1983 when the team left Magic Johnson and James Worthy in L.A. for the regular-season finale in Portland. Though not the same as players resting during the first five months of the season, Riley does take come culpability in a practice that he believes is getting out of hand.

“We don’t rest,” Riley said this week about the Heat. “I don’t believe in it. I think it’s gotten to the point where it’s become a travesty, an absolute travesty. Blatantly. I don’t care how many players you’re resting or who.

“Who are the ones entitled to get the rest versus who doesn’t rest?”

The Heat both benefited and were hurt by teams sitting players this season as they fell one game short of the playoffs. Miami twice played Cleveland while LeBron James and Kyrie Irving rested, winning both games in Miami. Then, on the final night of the season, the Heat defeated a Washington team that did not play its starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal.

But on that same night, the Heat needed either the Bulls or the Pacers to lose to sneak into the playoffs and both played teams, the Nets and Hawks, respectively, which rested all their key players.

The Heat have sat players in recent years, most notably Dwyane Wade who was on a “maintenance” program – which some will argue is a fancy word for rest – to preserve his body; and the Big Three, but mostly only late in the season when playoff spots were secured.

“We don’t rest players, we maintain them and every guy we can play we will play,” Riley said.

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[Udonis Haslem, the ‘Godfather’ of Miami Heat culture, confident he’ll be back for a 15th season]

 

Riley said he was told by Lakers owner Jerry Buss in ’83 that the team was leaving some of its players behind for the game in Portland, which the Lakers lost to finish the season 58-24.

How much did his help? The Lakers were swept by Philadelphia in the Finals.

Riley believes the organization was fined $10,000 for the move and said his secretary was inundated with complaints.

“There had to be 500 envelopes from Portland, manila envelopes, with their season tickets demanding their money back,” Riley said. “So, this goes back a long time. But, not to this state that it is today.

“I think Adam Silver, you’ve got to do something about it. You have to do something about it. Let’s just put a little more integrity into the whole concept of rest.”

Which is interesting considering in 1990 Riley did it again. He rested Magic and Worthy for a game in Portland on the final night of the regular season.

That year Riley was fined $25,000 and he wasn’t happy.

“I have an obligation to our management,” Riley said 27 years ago. “I decide who the heck I want to play. If (the league) is going to start getting in the way of who I want to play and when I want to play them, maybe they ought to come out here and put on the coach’s shirt themselves. …

“I’m sort of beside myself on this. Obviously, a new rule has been made, a new precedent set. I didn’t do it out of disregard for the league. I did it for the well-being of our players. They do it (rest starters in meaningless games) in other sports.”

That year the Lakers finished 63-19 and were upset by the Suns in the second round of the playoffs, losing in five games.

The difference, though, as a coach Riley did not rest players other than what he deemed “meaningless games” and to prepare for the playoffs. Teams now regularly rest players throughout the regular season, some starting as early as December.

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Pat Riley on Magic Johnson: ‘He’ll get the job done’ as the Lakers president

Miami Heat president Pat Riley and Magic Johnson watch the Heat and Clippers at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida on November 7, 2013. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)
Miami Heat president Pat Riley and Magic Johnson watch the Heat and Clippers at AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami, Florida on November 7, 2013. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

ATLANTA — Pat Riley and Magic Johnson will forever be connected.

Riley, as the head coach, and Johnson, as the Hall of Fame point guard, are two of the faces most associated with the “Showtime” Lakers from the 1980s.

Now, Riley and Johnson share another commonality. Both are team presidents, as Riley has served as the Heat’s president since 1995 and Johnson was named the Lakers’ president earlier this week. Continue reading “Pat Riley on Magic Johnson: ‘He’ll get the job done’ as the Lakers president”

Miami Heat president Pat Riley: ‘Players come and go, but franchises move on’

 

Pat Riley is excited for 'new guys' but looking to rebuild Heat into winner.
Pat Riley is excited for the ‘new guys’ but looking to rebuild Heat into winner.

Heat president Pat Riley is looking forward to Sept. 27, the start of yet another era in his 22 years with the Heat. While the expectations have been lowered, that does not mean Riley and the organization will approach this year any differently.

“No apologies, no regrets – except for one – no tears,” Riley told me today, obviously referring to losing franchise icon Dwyane Wade to the Chicago Bulls. “Good luck. We move on. Players come and go, but franchises move on.”

Magic and Cookie Johnson at 25th anniversary party in Monaco
Magic and Cookie Johnson at 25th anniversary party in Monaco

The reason for our conversation was to speak about Shaquille O’Neal’s induction into the basketball Hall of Fame on Friday. Riley took the time to speak from San Tropez where he and Heat owner Micky Arison are on a five-day journey through the Mediterranean to celebrate the 25th wedding anniversary of Magic and Cookie Johnson. (More in this below)

Riley, 71, does not sound like a man ready to cruise into retirement. He clearly is looking at ways to rebuild this team into one that can one day compete for the organization’s fourth title.

The Heat have been remade since losing Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson among others. They are a mix of young athletic players with fewer veterans than Heat teams of recent years.

“I’m excited for our new guys,” he said before already talking about the next move. “Maybe we make a deal or catch lightening in a bottle again next summer (in free agency) like we did in 2010.”

The Heat start training camp Sept. 27.

Now to Riley’s European Vacation.

Johnson, who played for Riley with the Lakers, is throwing a five-day party. The star-studded celebration started in Monaco. The party is continuing on with five stops in five days in places like San Tropez and Portofino.

Along with Riley, the guest list includes LL Cool J, Smokey Robinson, Steve Harvey, Cedric the Entertainer among others.

“When Magic invites to something like this I don’t care if you are on your death bed, you say, ‘yes,’” Riley said. “I love him.”

Check back for more on Riley’s thoughts on Shaq and his time in Miami.

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