CHICAGO — The Heat don’t have a draft pick this year, but don’t tell them that.
The team is well-represented at this week’s NBA draft combine in Chicago by a group that includes president Pat Riley, general manager Andy Elisburg, vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer, coach Erik Spoelstra, CEO Nick Arison and members of the player personnel staff. Spoelstra made an appearance at the combine to watch prospects Thursday, and Riley was at the Quest Multisport complex on Friday.
MIAMI – Leave it to the Captain and the Heat’s only Miami native to ride out Hurricane Irma.
While the rest of his teammates were evacuating, Udonis Haslem remained in his Southwest Ranches home with his family and three dogs.
“It’s not that I don’t respect the power of Mother Nature because I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mother Nature,” Haslem said. “But I built a bunker. I paid a lot of money for it. I’m going down with my ship.”
Haslem, like many, was spared with the most damage coming to his trees and fence. My yard took a beating,” he said. So he did what most of us have been doing for the last three days, rolled up his sleeves and went to work.
“It’s been a long time since I did that kind of work,” he said. “I just saw everybody in my neighborhood cleaning out trees and I said ‘Let me get out there and clean out my trees.’
But Haslem knew his work was not done even when he finished cutting and dragging tree limbs to the curb. Before the storm hit he had called around informing the Heat and anyone else that he was available to be called into action.
On Friday, Haslem, coach Erik Spoelstra, CEO Nick Arison and several Heat employees helped load 150 pets into crates at Miami International Airport so they could be transported to Oakland, Calif., where members of the Golden State Warriors were waiting to unload the pets. Haslem, an admitted animal lover who said he walked his three dogs as much as he could during the storm, assisted in giving the dogs a little outdoors time before their flight took off.
The pets were being transported to Bay Area shelters to make room in the Miami area shelters for pets abandoned during Irma.
“There are so many areas that need help,” Spoelstra said. “This is an area that often gets forgotten, the displaced animals, and some of the horrific stories about animals getting left behind in the storm. Many of the animals would have been euthanized this weekend.”
Carnival Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Arison’s company, and the Miami Heat Charitable Fund are each pledging to raise a combined $5 million in funding for relief and recovery efforts. The Arisons will match that commitment up to a total of $5 million, including the organization’s initial $2.5 million donation, bringing the total to $10 million.
“(They) don’t know any different,” Spoelstra said. “I’ve seen their example. And the Arison family has been so deeply rooted in the community for so long that as soon as something happens they activate and they get everybody else motivated to do something.”
Spoelstra was behind many of his players leaving town, saying he made the suggestion, especially considering most had never experienced a hurricane.
Spoelstra and his wife, Nikki, evacuated their Coconut Grove home. They returned to find it in good shape.
“It doesn’t make you more courageous to stay. I think we all learned a lesson from Houston,” he said, referring to Hurricane Harvey. “If you can get out early and secure your house and secure your properties discretion is the better part of valor oftentimes.
“I think we were all very fortunate with this storm but I think the numbers were roughly 7 million that evacuated. That was the smart thing to do. Once everybody is able to come back safely now we all have to lace up our boots and get to work and build back this community.”
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.
ORLANDO – Gordon Hayward was greeted by Miami Heat players, coaches, officials. … and a banner of his likeness as he pulled into AmericanAirlines Arena early Saturday.
The Heat had the first meeting with one of the biggest names remaining in free agency, hoping to lure the Utah Jazz small forward to South Florida. Involved in the meeting were owner Micky Arison, President Pat Riley, CEO Nick Arison, GM Andy Elisburg, Alonzo Mourning, coach Erik Spoelstra and most of his coaching staff.
Several players also spoke to Hayward including Hassan Whiteside, Udonis Haslem and free agent James Johnson. Hayward and Johnson share the same agent, Chicago-based Mark Bartelstein.
Miami even delayed the arrival of coaches Chris Quinn and Juwan Howard to Orlando for the start of summer league, keeping them back in South Florida for the meeting. Eric Glass coached the Heat in their summer league opener, a 74-67 loss to Charlotte.
The Heat are hoping to land Hayward, who, if he leaves Utah, would be the biggest name to switch teams this summer.
Hayward, 27, will command a max contract starting at $29.7 million. If he re-signs with Utah he could earn $172.4 million over five years. If he leaves the Jazz the most he can make is $127.8 million over four years, the difference being an 8 percent raise each year compared to 5 percent.
Hayward, though, is thought to be seeking either a three-year deal or a contract with a player option after three years so he can then take advantage of the increased max contract for a 10-year veteran. In that case he would make more money signing with the Heat considering Florida does not have a state income tax.
Hayward also has a meeting set up with Boston on Sunday and Utah on Monday and is expected to make his decision soon after meeting with the Jazz. While the Heat and Celtics appear to be the favorites, Boston was planning to sell Hayward on joining a super team, one that included Paul George.
If the Heat secure Hayward they will turn to re-signing power forward James Johnson. That would give Miami a lineup of point guard Goran Dragic, possibly Josh Richardson or Tyler Johnson at shooting guard, Hayward, Johnson and Whiteside.
Miami then would have a $4.3 million exception to spend on a lower-level free agent.
If Hayward shuns the Heat the options would be James Johnson and re-signing shooting guard Dion Waiters, which could leave them with $15 to $17 million more to boost the roster. Or the Heat could pursue Rudy Gay, who has never hid his desire to play in South Florida, to play shooting guard.
Either way, the Heat should climb in the Eastern Conference considering how many teams have been weakened through free agency or trades. The Heat tied for the eighth-best record in the East with a 41-41 record and missed out on the playoffs because of a tie-breaker
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.
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.
Magic Johnson and Pat Riley dance to George Benson's "Love X Love" and sing Jefferey Osborne's "You Should Be Mine." pic.twitter.com/2EOFGdRoYh
CHIGAGO – The first step of the six-week grind leading up to the NBA draft is complete and the Miami Heat now are 20 interviews into the process.
The Heat contingent led by President Pat Riley, CEO Nick Arison, GM Andy Elisburg, vice president of player personnel Chet Kammerer, coach Erik Spoelstra and director of basketball development Shane Battier conducted 20 interviews, watched hours workouts and set up private workouts during their three days at the draft combine in Chicago.
Next up is Tuesday’s draft lottery in which Alonzo Mourning will represent the Heat in front of the cameras and Elisburg will be behind the scenes, about 30 private workouts in Miami and then the June 22 draft.
The Heat enter with the 14th pick and have just a 1.8 percent chance of moving into the top three.
Most of the players the Heat interviewed this week are projected to be selected in the second round or go undrafted.
Although Miami enters the draft with just one pick, it could trade into the second round.
The following list includes 17 of the 20 players who confirmed to the Palm Beach Post that they met with the Heat this week:
OG Anunoby, SF, Indiana
Jordan Bell, PF, Oregon
Chris Boucher, PF, Oregon
Thomas Bryant, C, Indiana
PJ Dozier, SG, South Carolina
Josh Hart, SG, Villanova
Isaiah Hicks, PF, North Carolina
Wesley Iwundu, SG/SF, Kansas State
Peter Jok, SG, Iowa
Monte Morris, PG, Iowa State
Jonathan Motley, PF, Baylor
Semi Ojeleye, PF, SMU
Devin Robinson, SF, Florida
Kobi Simmons, PG, Arizona.
Sindarius Thornwell, SG, South Carolina
Derrick White, SG/SF, Colorado
Nigel Williams-Goss, OG, Gonzaga
Anunoby and Boucher both tore an ACL last season. Anunoby is the highest ranked among those interviewed and is projected to be taken in the mid first round. But he still is unable to work out so the Heat did their vetting at the combine rather than bring him to Miami. He is hoping to be ready before training camp. Boucher, a projected second rounder, said his target date for full recovery is Oct. 1
The next step is to bring in about 30 players for private workouts. These workouts will include most every player projected to fall somewhere between No. 10 and 25 in the draft, among others. In other words, the player Miami takes with the 14th overall pick – assuming it does not get lucky – likely will be working out at AmericanAirlines Arena in the next month or so.
Florida State shooting guard Dwayne Bacon has a workout scheduled for Friday. Other players who said this week they expect to come in for a workout include TJ Leaf, PF, UCLA; Ivan Rabb, PF/C, California; and Justin Jackson, SF, North Carolina.
Look for players like Wake Forest power forward John Collins, Gonzaga center Zach Collings, FSU power forward Jonathan Isaac, Louisville shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, Creighton center Justin Patton, UCLA center Ike Anigbogu, Purdue power forward Caleb Swanigan, Texas center Jarrett Allen, Duke shooting guard Luke Kennard, Duke power forward Harry Giles and shooting guard Terrance Ferguson, who played in Australia last season, to work out for the Heat.
BY THE NUMBERS
The highs and lows from the anthropometic testing at the combine:
Tallest players (without shoes): Jeanne Jordan, France, 7-0.75; Thomas Welch, UCLA, 6-11.5; Omer Yurtseven, NC State, 6-10.5; Zach Collins, Gonzaga, 6-10.25; Thomas Bryant, Indiana, 6-9.5.
Shortest players: Juwan Evans, Oklahoma State, 5-10.75; Frank Mason III, Kansas, 5-11; Derrick Walton Jr., 5-11; Kadeem Allen, Arizona, 6-1; Four at 6-1.25..
Heaviest player: Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina, 276.6.
Lightest player: Kobi Simmons, Arizona, 166.2.
Lowest body fat: Devin Robinson, Florida, 3.2.
Highest body fat: Tyler Lydon, Syracuse, 13.6.
Highest standing reach: Jonathan Jeanne, 9-5.5.
Shortest standing reach: Frank Mason, Kansas, 7-10.
Largest hand width: Harry Giles, Duke, 10.75; Moritz Wagner, Michigan, 10.75.
Smallest hand width: Juwan Evans, Oklahoma State, 7.75.
MIAMI – The nearly 40 seconds of silence was excruciating.
An emotional, distraught Erik Spoelstra took his usual spot at the podium following the Heat’s 110-102 victory over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, looking like anything but a winning coach.
The Heat’s season had come to sudden, dispiriting end with wins by the Bulls and Pacers keeping Miami out of the playoffs and Spoelstra was at a loss for words. Still in his suit but having discarded his tie, Spoelstra sat in his chair, his hands remaining on his hips with his eyes cast downward. Then then swiped his mouth with one hand and started fidgeting with his wedding ring.
Finally, Spoelstra broke the awkwardness, speaking in hushed tones.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this way about a team before. I don’t know if I ever wanted something more for a team,” he started in his final post-game news conference that lasted about 15 minutes.
Spoelstra may have remained collected, but that did not mean there were not tears before he entered that room after watching the final seconds tick away on the Heat season in the form of Indiana’s victory over Atlanta. Spoelstra talked about grown men – men he had spent more time with since October than his family – weeping in the locker room.
Willie Reed, the backup center who have played his final game in a Heat uniform, fought to hold back the tears.
“I don’t want to end this season right now,” he said. “I want to keep playing with my brothers. I want to keep going out there and fighting with them. I want to keep sharpening that sword and giving everything we have. I really wish is wasn’t over right now.
“I love this team so much.”
Goran Dragic spoke with glassy eyes and flushed face.
“I would go to battle with those guys any, any day,” he added for emphasis. “They can call me anytime. (And) this is it.”
The harsh reality was eye-opening for second year guard Josh Richardson, who has experienced heartbreak in a locker room while at Tennessee but did not to expect such raw emotions when he stuck in the NBA.
“Coming to the NBA, before I got in I didn’t know guys really cared about it that much, I didn’t know it meant that much,” Richardson said. “I thought that they were just happy they were rich.
“Seeing it now. … It’s a lot deeper than basketball. It’s a lot deeper than people think.”
The difficulty was the emotional roller coaster of the season and the night. The Heat made a vow not to ask about the score in the Bulls or Pacers games until they had taken care of their business against the Wizards. If either the Bulls or Pacers were upset, it would have been irrelevant if Miami allowed an undermanned Washington team to walk away with a victory.
So during time outs, during halftime, Miami stayed locked in to its game. Spoelstra went as far as to not even look over at owner Micky Arison and CEO Nick Arison sitting at their courtside seat so not to attempt to gauge their reactions.
When the final horn sounded the Heat celebrated an historic second half that saw the greatest turnaround in league history, from 11-30 to a complete inverse of that record and a 41-41 finish.
After the hugs they rushed to the locker room, gathered around the television and watched as the Pacers (the Bulls had already crushed the Nets) took not just a needle but a sledgehammer to their balloon.
“I don’t think any of us are handling it well right now,” Spoelstra said moments after the Pacers win.
“How I feel and how the players feel, emotionally it’s very similar to how you feel getting knocked out in the Finals just because of how hard and emotionally invested we’ve been in, particularly the last three months.”
But when a championship is on the line there is a finality. Win or lose the season is over, it’s time to clean lockers, the difference being one of those two teams will have a parade to attend.
I have covered this franchise on full- or part-time basis for most of the last 23 seasons and the only comparison I can make when it comes to such a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching end was the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals when, for the third consecutive year, the Heat were eliminated by the New York Knicks in the deciding game.
Dan Majerle sat dazed, wondering how this bad dream could keep coming to life over and over again. Pat Riley appeared to age with each loss. That look on Majerle’s and Riley’s faces that day 17 years ago was the same one I saw on Spoelstra and Dragic and Reed and Udonis Haslem, the Heat’s rough-and-tumble leader.
“This was probably the first time I felt like this even. … losing in the Finals,” Haslem said, who has experienced the highs and lows more than anybody in the locker room.
“When we lost in the Finals, I wanted it so bad for myself and for my teammates. But this time I took myself out of the equation and I just wanted it for those guys. I wanted those guys to achieve that. I wanted those guys to understand what that feels like. They worked so hard and those guys deserved that. To me, it was the hardest for me just because I wanted it so much for those guys.”
MIAMI _ Heat President Pat Riley entered Thursday’s trade deadline with low expectations.
He got just what he expected.
As several teams made moves to either make a run at the playoffs or dump unwanted players, the Heat stood pat for the first time in five years.
Riley was not surprised.
“We had what we expected to occur … nothing,” Riley said.
“I’m glad we didn’t do anything stupid.”
Riley said the Heat, who have won 14-of-16 to pull to within two games of the final playoff spot in the East, wasn’t a buyer or a seller. Which was fine considering he, coach Erik Spoelstra, GM Andy Elisburg and CEO Nick Arison made a decision to “play out” the rest of the season.
“I think the most interesting thing that we as an organization will look at (is) the last 25 games, because this is about something that we can gain,” Riley said. “I want to see now how they will operate now with real pressure.”
Riley did not say if anything was close but the only reports involving the Heat included fringe players like guard Wayne Ellington and injured forward Josh McRoberts.
Still, the only true impact player moved around the deadline was Sacramento sending DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans. Others, like Indiana’s Paul George and Chicago’s Jimmy Butler, stayed put.
“We don’t have those kinds of assets to go out and acquire,” Riley said. “And I think the only thing that’s going to change this franchise is going to be what comes from within first, what we do in the draft, what we do in the summer and what we do in the trading market.
“Somewhere, we will have a star that emerges. We already have a couple of guys we consider stars and can you get one via trade, develop one from within, draft one, get one in free agency? That’s part of the game.”
Even if the Heat made a move, it was not going to be at the expense of the long-term plan of rebuilding this team through free agency and, now to a lesser extent because of its record, the draft.
By sitting out the deadline, the Heat will enter free agency with at least $40 million in cap space, unless a move is made around the draft.
Riley was asked if the last five weeks in which the Heat went from the second-worst record in the league to a playoff contender changed his trade deadline approach.
“Maybe,” he said. “But I don’t think so. Even when we weren’t winning, there were some players emerging and playing well.
“When we were 11-30, there were a lot of close games and we couldn’t finish those games for some reason. They hung in there and this last five weeks … now it’s fun. Let’s take this to what we would say the fourth quarter and everything’s on the line the next 25 games and let’s see what we can do.”
For the players, the focus now can be solely on the court.
“It is a little bit of a relief,” guard Goran Dragic said about the trade deadline expiring. “We’re together from Day 1 and it’s not easy if some of your teammates are gone. But we understand this is a part of the business everybody is going through.”
Miami’s final playoff push continues Friday in Atlanta.
“This was not smoke and mirrors over the last five weeks,” Riley said. “This was some very good basketball, some very good performances and we will see now if after nine days off, if they can remain the same team with the same kind of edge.”
Riley said the next seven weeks of the regular season will go a long way in the evaluation process.
“I’m excited about a playoff run just as I would be as excited about getting the No. 1 seed or the first round of the playoffs,” he said. “You get excited at different levels and so we’re all excited about this.”
But, Riley added, this is not where the Heat want to be in the future.
“We have bigger dreams here than that. You take what you can get at that moment.”
MIAMI – Pat Riley said the Miami Heat did exactly what they expected at the trade deadline – “nothing.”
The Heat, said Riley, were neither a buyer nor a seller.
“We said at the beginning of the year we had a team we liked, a group of young players, and wanted to see who emerged,” Riley said today. “When we were (11-30) it seemed like everything was nothing and that we had nothing to lose. There was a lot of adversity and they found some real positivity and the same chemistry that was borne out of that losing to this time now where you’re seeing some guys emerge.”
That Heat (25-32) won 14 of their last 16 to climb within two games of the final playoff spot in the East. Riley said he is “excited” about the final 25 games.
“I think the most interesting thing that we as an organization will look at the last 25 games because this is about something that we can gain,” he said. “I want to see now how they will operate now with real pressure. If making the playoffs is important then there will be some games that will have some pressure. If we can get those players we believe in that we think can be part of the future and perform at a high level during this time and make the playoffs I think that’s what we’re looking for and that’s why didn’t make trades for the sake of making trades.
Riley said that he, coach Erik Spoelstra, GM Andy Elisburg and CEO Nick Arison decided to “play this out.”
“We got a great roster of young players and some great leadership and some of the veterans, some guys who are emerging, great coaching staff teaching them everything they know, everything they need for this run. We got a draft pick, we don’t know where it’s going to be. And we have that elusive moving number for the summer that will help us rebuild.
“I’m glad we didn’t do anything stupid.”
More on Riley about the deadline, Dion Waiters, Hassan Whiteside and other thoughts to come.
MIAMI – Heat coach Erik Spoelstra’s rise from video coordinator to head coach has been well documented. But Spoelstra’s journey is rivaled by General Manager and VP of basketball operations Andy Elisburg, who started as an intern in the Heat’s public relations department before Miami had even played a game.
Elisburg was hired less than two days after receiving his diploma from St. Thomas University.
“I graduated on Monday and started full time Wednesday morning so I’ve been unemployed for 36 hours of my life,” Elisburg says.
I spoke to Elisburg about his rise and how he became the Heat’s leading ‘capologist’ for the latest installment of our question and answer segment we will bring you throughout the season.
Q: How did you get started with the Heat?
AE: “I was at St. Thomas University in sports administration. You had to do an internship with some form of a sports enterprise. I wound up doing it with the Washington Bullets. While I was there I met Mark Pray who was the PR director for the Bullets at the time. I came down here for senior year, two weeks later Mark winds up joining the Heat and we got in touch. At the time there was no PR office of any kind and no media guide. He asked me to get the media guide started and help with getting the office started.”
Q: So perfect timing, right?
AE: “The most perfect time you could come into an organization. There were roughly 20 fulltime people not including players. Today we’re close to 150 people so you were able to get involved in a lot of different things.”
Q: Like learning the complicated rules of the salary cap?
AE: “Because there were so few people there tended to be a little bit of, ‘Okay, we can’t figure it out, give it to Andy, he’ll figure it out.’ I became that guy who figured things out. The computer showed up. I had a computer since I was in high school so they gave it to me. There was a PR account and there was a general manager’s account and I would keep the general manager’s account. After a year they started putting salary information on the GM account, so I started keeping salary information. I started downloading and looking at it to see how trades happen and looked to see how things went from one side to the next and started putting the pieces together in a more coherent fashion to give to them and I just picked it up. When Micky Arison bought the team he hired Dave Wohl and Dave moved me to the basketball side and I wound up becoming a capologist.”
Q: Did you play around with numbers growing up?
AE: “I was never really a numbers guy in that kind of way. It was not really my thing. And still this day accounting isn’t necessarily the thing I love to do. That concept of how the salary cap works. … it’s a combination strategically of how you look at it from a legal document and financial document and just a general planning document I just sort of had a gift for. I all sort of clicked with me.”
Q: What was your most challenging trade to put together?
AE: “When we acquired Eddie Jones. Eddie had base year compensation on one side there were other conditions on the other side. This was a trade with about $15 million on one side, roughly $15 million on the other side that worked by $20,000 on one side of the trade and $1,500 on the other side of the trade. I think I did 120 different versions of the trade. I literally went dollar by dollar, adding dollars to one side and dollars to the other side to make it work. Because Eddie was a free agent you could (play with the numbers) and you had that flexibility.”
(Note: Jones was acquired in a sign-and-trade from Charlotte in 2000 along with Anthony Mason, Ricky Davis and Dale Ellis for P.J. Brown, Jamal Mashburn, Otis Thorpe, Tim James and Rodney Buford.)
Q: Pat Riley recently called you ‘the smartest guy in the room.’ What did that mean to you?
AE: “It was an incredible honor. I like to say you work with incredibly smart people and working with Pat and working with a Micky and (CEO Nick Arison) and a Spo and so many of the others that are here is what makes it all worthwhile. Having now spent 22 years working with Pat, it’s been like a Doctorate. You’re talking about getting the true master class from someone who has been one of the truly great guys in the league.”
Q: What makes Pat who he is?
AE: “He has a vision for seeing things that are just. … He’s not two steps ahead, he’s five steps ahead. He doesn’t look at what it is, he imagines what it could be and has a vision to see things. Being with him and watching some of these things come together and the various trades that have been made, the guys we have acquired and the process we have gone through and a lot of steps that weren’t necessarily automatic, or easy, or without debate. We’ve had our success, we’ve had our failures but that’s part of what makes an incredibly rich life having led.”
Q: So who is your top free agent target next summer?