Lakers eyeing Heat's Pat Riley to run team, ESPN experts say

Riley denied interest in L.A. job last week

MIAMI – Despite his recent denials, could Pat Riley trade in South Beach for Showtime?

This morning on the ESPN show "First Take," network personalities Stephen A. Smith and Michael Wilbon both suggested the Los Angeles Lakers were targeting Riley to run the franchise.

Lakers owner Jeannie Buss is searching for someone to replace Magic Johnson after the franchise legend surprisingly quit as team president last week.

"I think everyone needs to know, Jeannie Buss is hellbent on making a splash, supposedly that's what she's telling a lot of people, and more and more and more over the last few days, correct me if I'm wrong, we are hearing the name Pat Riley." said Smith.

In his nine seasons as coach of the "Showtime" era Lakers, Riley won four NBA titles and took Los Angeles to the Finals seven times. Before heading to the bench and becoming a coach, Riley played six seasons in purple and gold.

"Pat Riley would like to, sort of, wrap it up where it started in Southern California." said Wilbon.

However, both Smith and Wilbon failed to mention Riley himself said last week he would not be interested in returning to the Lakers in any capacity.

"There's no doubt that I have a history with that team, I was there for 20 years." Riley said during his end of the season news conference. "I had a good conversation with Magic after he stepped down and so I'm sure they'll work it out, but I'm not going to be part of that. That's not what I want to do."

The two questioned whether Riley and LeBron James could coexist after a seemingly rocky split when the current Lakers forward left Miami to return to Cleveland during the 2014 offseason.

Smith apparently feels with LeBron currently in Los Angeles, Riley stands a better chance of returning to NBA glory than if he stayed in South Florida.

"He's not going to win in Miami, not immediately."