MIAMI — Miami Heat president Pat Riley was on hand Thursday to help announce the new Hoophall Miami Invitational event that will be held at AmericanAirlines Arena to benefit the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and local charities.
Afterward, he spoke with the media to discuss the current state of the Heat, as well as their future.
Speaking frankly about several topics concerning the team, he pulled no punches, in typical Riley fashion.
"It’s been very frustrating for everybody," he said of the Heat’s season at the halfway mark. "It’s been very frustrating that we haven’t been able to overcome the adversities that we have faced — and they are not excuses, they are adversities."
Though he’s been disappointed by their performance as of late, he understands the big picture and is realistic about what they can accomplish this season.
"Adversity really sort of strengthens the fiber and the core of your team," he said. "We’ve had a lot of opportunities in 10 or 12 games to overcome adversity in more than two or three key situations, and we haven’t been able to do that.
"We’re in the fight. I think you have to recognize who you are and what your challenge is this year. We’re in the fight — but we’re not in the fight like we were before for the top of the conference. We are in the fight with five or six other teams for probably the playoffs — spots six, seven and eight — so get real about it, don’t feel sorry about it, and get after it."
Between injuries and changes in the rotation, Riley wants to see this team step up and play up to and beyond its capability regardless of the obstacles along the way.
"In the face of all the adversity that we’ve had, there have been times we have underachieved," he said. "So to me, that’s a habit more than anything else that I think will strengthen (the team) as we continue to take these hits along the way. I do see a five-, six- or seven-game good run somewhere along the way that will get us back to where we’re feeling good about ourselves."
As for looking elsewhere to help fortify the roster, he said the Heat were in plenty of discussions but not active on the trade market.
Though he’s not interested in making moves for the sake of change, he’s willing to listen to offers to help improve the team now.
"If there’s something that makes sense that we can do that could really help us, then we would consider it," Riley said. "But we’re not about to give up assets that we don’t have — and that we need — to make a lateral move out of desperation and to take what I think is a playoff team to make the playoffs."
Looking ahead to the future and the team’s much-discussed plans for the 2016 free agency market, Riley noted that changes to the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement has made it more complicated to sign the kind of star players he was able to do in 2010.
"I’m not so sure that what we did in 2010 is anywhere close to what we can do in 2016," he said. "The rules have changed. For a player to turn down a five-year guaranteed deal at home with major max money, he must really have to hate where he’s at or love where he’s going. So it’s not the same deal. It’s going to be approached differently."
Riley didn’t hesitate to confirm that although there is a plan in place, it could be all cast aside in order to get a difference-maker that could help shape the franchise and put them back in contention sooner rather then later.
"If it’s the right guy and he’s a star and he can complement what coach wants and what we have with Dwyane (Wade), Luol (Deng) and with Chris (Bosh) … then we’re ready to move."