MIAMI – Miami Heat President Pat Riley held his annual end-of-season media availability on Monday at FTX Arena.
“I thought we had an absolutely great year,” Riley said to open the presser. “It was a tremendous story that was developing. But like a lot of stories, the ending wasn’t good.”
Overall, Riley said he was very pleased with what the Heat accomplished during the season, but still had a bitter taste in his mouth over the way it ended.
Miami lost to the Boston Celtics in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“It was a bitter loss,” said Riley. “The dragon hasn’t left my body yet from that loss. I was stunned, I was frustrated, I was angry. I was all of those things.”
Despite being 77 years old, Riley doesn’t appear to have any intentions of leaving his role at the top of the Heat food chain, at least not until they climb the championship mountain one more time.
“I definitely feel an obligation to finish this build,” he said.
When asked about the potential of adding another big star, Riley said they’re always looking.
“If there’s one out there, throw him to me,” he said, adding, “You can always think about running it back and being successful, but is that going to be what you need to win a championship?
“I like the team that we have. I like the core. Let’s see where we can go internally, and let’s see where we can go if something presents itself.”
Riley spoke about many of the Heat’s players during Monday’s availability.
He had nothing but good things to say about Tyler Herro, the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year, but added, “If you want to win a championship and you want to be a starter, you really have to become a two-way player today.”
Riley noted that Herro has made improvements on defensive end and needs to keep getting stronger.
“If he wants to be a starter, we’ll see in October,” he added. “That’s something he has to earn.”
Riley was also very positive when speaking about Bam Adebayo.
“He’s been asked to do a lot of things as a young player,” he said. “He’s always getting somebody open. Duncan should pay him half his check; Tyler should pay him half this check.”
Riley also thinks the team can look for ways to get Adebayo more shots per night, believing there is another level the 24-year-old can reach to be a more consistent scorer.
“There’s a part of him that can grow,” he said.
Regarding Kyle Lowry, Riley made it clear that the veteran guard had some personal issues that he was dealing with during the season, but would not go into any further detail.
As for how Lowry played, Riley seemed to insinuate that his conditioning could use some work.
“You have to be in world class shape,” Riley said, adding that becomes even more true as you get older. “He definitely has to address that, and it will be addressed.”
Riley called P.J. Tucker a “cornerstone” player, comparing him to Udonis Haslem on Miami’s earlier championship teams.
“I would love to have him back next year,” Riley said of Tucker. “He’s part of our core.”
Tucker has an opt-out in his contract, but the Heat could still try to keep him if he does go that route. Based on Riley’s comments, it seems clear they want to.
And as for Haslem, Riley wants to have him around, but said they haven’t discussed anything yet.
Riley said Haslem is still deciding if he wants to be on the court.
“We want him to be in this organization as long as he wants to be,” he said. “I’ll sit down with UD. I love him to death.”
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