Miami Heat President Pat Riley held his annual postseason state-of-the-franchise news conference Monday morning (albeit a tad earlier in the year than what we've grown accustomed to around here) and talked about the team's past, present, future, and draft pick.
Oh, and he also threw a subtle, yet not-so-subtle, verbal grenade at LeBron James.
When asked about the upcoming free-agency period being easier than last year after the team basically had to wait for LeBron to make up his mind, Riley offered up a cryptic yet totally amazeballs answer: "Yes, it'll be easier," he said. "No more smiling faces with hidden agendas."
Boom. The carnage.
When a reporter followed up on what he meant, Riley backtracked a little and said that statement could be about anybody. But it's pretty clear who it was about. That is, it was either LeBron James or his representation.
That was the highlight of the presser. But there was more. So much more.
If we had to recap the entire news conference, we'd say:
A.) Riley has moved on from losing LeBron James (although the media keep asking him about LeBron)
B.) Riley is probably going to trade that tenth overall pick (he didn't say as much, but we're reading between the lines)
C.) Riley is determined to build around Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside, and Dwyane Wade (Awww, yeah)
Here are the major points Riley covered:
On this horrible, horrible, no-good, very bad season:
Adversity strengthens the core and the armor. I'm moving on. I have no regrets.
I think I told Erik [Spoelstra] to beat himself for a good week. That's what you do. I think he's done with that, and we're moving on.
The narrative about injuries — which are real — losing a transcendent player is going to be difficult. Losing others makes it more difficult. But I do believe the narrative of the constant talking, writing, reading, disseminating info, social media is totally out of hand.
I challenge myself more than anyone else that what happened this year won't happen again.
The misery is a little bit short-lived with a good Cabernet.
On Hassan Whiteside:
We didn't find Hassan. He was out there, and we were very fortunate he slipped through the cracks. We didn't develop Hassan. He arrived and all of a sudden loaded up the box score. There's no doubt that Erik will see what he can do for this player beyond the pick and roll, dunk, shooting thing. I think he can be a formidable player.
He also has to take the attitude like Alonzo Mourning. If Alonzo didn't get the ball, he'd put his massive hands around my neck, figuratively and literally.
It's almost like having a lottery pick that's with us right now.
On Goran Dragic:
If he doesn't sign, my ass will be in that [media] seat next year. We feel confident. We have a great organization, a great city. You roll the dice and you also feel good about that we're in the best position to give him the best offer.
On what needs he wants to fill with the tenth overall pick:
If you really want to take a look at what the draft produces, look at the playoffs. Only two teams that picked at the top last year are in the playoffs this year. And they're not even playing for their team. If you watch Golden State, they don't have a plethora of three-point shooters around Curry and Thompson. Curry and Thompson are everything. They're both the main long-distance weapon for that team. While we felt we had enough on the perimeter, that may be an area where we'll look. But I don't want a one-dimensional player. We always look for a player who can hit threes, is a playmaker, and can defend.
On Heat fans:
They were there every night. I know because I was sitting right there with them. I think winning is in their blood now. They're a very supportive, noisy crowd.
Every single team in the league has fans that arrive late or leave early. Our fans have been great. They understood exactly what we were going through. There was a lot of patience with this team.
On approaching free agency without having to wait for LeBron to decide:
No more smiling faces with hidden agendas.
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On LeBron James:
That's behind us. We've all moved on. I do believe that we do have those developed players that have had star years that have carried franchises. You'd like to see this team in one game intact, healthy. We didn't have that this year. It was a disappointing year in terms of setbacks. We're happy as an organization about where we are. We'll be back competing, unlike a lot of people think we can.
On Dwyane Wade:
For the last 12 years, he's been here, the best of the best. He's been the one truly great player that has been the bedrock of this team. We're going to need him. Also with Dwyane, he's got to change the narrative himself about his body and injuries and missing games. We've had a discussion about this. Night in, night out there's a question of his health. We're making him older than what he really is. But he understands the challenge.