Tuesday, June 21, 2011
Pat Riley won't coach, Heat will contend
By Michael Wallace ESPN.com
MIAMI -- With the disappointment still lingering from Miami's loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals, Heat president Pat Riley took his first public steps Tuesday toward regrouping for another title run next season.
"I can say this," Riley said in his postseason meeting with the media, "we will be a multiple championship-contending team. This was a great year. It was a disappointing ending."
Team president Pat Riley likes what he sees in the Heat team he put together and believes the club will continue contending for NBA championships.
In a 40-minute Q&A session, Riley's message was about maintaining continuity around LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh moving forward. He also challenged each of the team's top three players to come back next season with improvements after the Heat fell two victories short of meeting their championship expectations with a 4-2 series loss to the Mavericks in the Finals.
Riley quickly ended any speculation that he would entertain a return to the bench to coach the Heat in the future.
Erik Spoelstra will return for his fourth season as coach, which is believed to be the final year on his contract. But Riley said there has been no discussions about a long-term extension for Spoelstra.
Riley, who recently has worked under a "year to year" agreement with owner Micky Arison, said he would continue to guide the Heat's basketball operations under a similar arrangement.
Asked specifically if he felt an urge to coach again, Riley shot down the notion.
"No, I'm not going to," Riley said of coaching. "It doesn't mean that I don't have the fire. But we've got a great young coach here, and I want to support him. And hopefully, he can grow like I did. We'll bring Erik back, definitely."
Riley addressed several other matters during his rare session with the media as the Heat prepare for Thursday's draft. Miami has the 31st overall pick.
In terms of James' drop-off in production and impact in the Finals, Riley said he met with him after the series and encouraged the two-time league MVP to take "a hard look at the film" to examine his performance.
"You don't have an easy answer for that right now," Riley said. "It's wrong to lay it all on him."
Riley added that he would like to see Bosh work on his physical conditioning and get stronger during the offseason. With Wade, 29, Riley said maintaining his health and consistency should be priorities as he approaches his 30s.
There were also a few times when Riley said his franchise might have gotten too caught up in the hype and criticism that engulfed the team from the day the Heat celebrated the July arrival of James and Bosh to partner with Wade.
"The greatest thing in the history of South Florida sports was those three guys coming together," Riley said before stopping to make an exception for the Miami Dolphins' undefeated Super Bowl season in 1972. "Did we make mistakes along the way? Yes. Would they (Bosh, James and Wade) like to take back some of the words? Yes."
But Riley said the team doesn't look back with many regrets. And he also said he never considered trading any of the Heat's Big Three during their rough start.
"I know what everybody expected here, but it didn't happen," Riley said of falling short of the title. "We are good enough. We have enough. We will do all the things we need to do to get better."
Michael Wallace covers the NBA for ESPN.com.