Pat Riley held his end-of-season press conference on Thursday morning, and the Miami Heat president was in a sour mood. His frustration seemed to stem more from the questions he has been facing about the future of the Heat than losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals.
“You want to trend something?” Riley began as he addressed reporters, via Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’m pissed. Get that trending. I think we need to have a perspective about things. I’ll do everything I can to retool the team, but I think everybody needs to get a grip.”
Riley used the phrase “get a grip” multiple times during the session. When asked about the potential of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh opting out of their contracts, Riley made it clear that he is not going to be doing any ass kissing this time around.
“I don’t think we need to recruit Dwyane, LeBron and Chris again,” he said. “I think all those guys that have come here have got exactly what they wanted. And we hope that all those guys want to come with us. What cements a forever-bond is going through what we went through this season and staying the course.
“You gotta stay together, if you’ve got the guts. You don’t find the first door and run out of it. I’m not dropping championship rings on the table for those guys. They can drop their own.”
These are all negotiating tactics. Heat owner Micky Arison recently said there is a “100 percent” chance the Big Three stays put. Then there was a report about the Big Three only being willing to take a pay cut if Arison spends the money elsewhere, which makes sense.
Simply put, this is a game of chess. LeBron can opt out and sign a max contract wherever he wants. He has more money than he could ever need between salary and endorsements, so right now his priority is putting himself in a position of strength to make sure the Heat are committed to improving their roster. Riley, on the other hand, can’t be pushed around.
In the end, my guess is they all live happily ever after.