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Riley confident that Heat will continue to contend

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After weeks of silence, Pat Riley finally spoke out for the first time since LeBron’s departure to reassure Heat fans that Miami is moving in an exciting new direction and plan to remain an elite club for years to come.

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

In an unbearably long offseason, relevant news has surprisingly surfaced directly concerning the future of the Miami Heat. For the first time since the departure of LeBron James Pat Riley spoke out in a teleconference regarding the Miami Heat's future and in doing so helped instill hope in regards to this coming season. As reported by Ira Winderman of Sun-Sentinel, Riley issued an array of interesting quotations that helped answer many questions that were plaguing Heat nation.

When asked about how Riley feels about Miami's future he responded saying:

"I feel very good about where we are right now, at this moment, with the 12 guys under contract," Riley said. "Unlike a lot of the prognosticators . . . I feel with all the conversations I've had with these players, that we're going to be up to the challenge."

In regards to the quotation, Pat Riley has every reason to be optimistic, Miami has had an incredible off-season notwithstanding the loss of the NBA’s best player. Josh McRoberts and Luol Deng are great talents, who are both elite offensive players and tenacious defenders. Deng is an on-ball menace, and McRoberts improvement from beyond the arc in Charlotte subverts any criticism he received earlier in his career. Taking a risk on Danny Granger is justified considering how he rebounded back from injury as showcased in his limited postseason minutes with the Clippers. Officially signingChris Bosh today will benefit the Heat tremendously as he transitions into the "go-to guy". The chance that Bosh returns to his Toronto Raptors level is extremely alluring.

Riley elaborated on questions asked explaining that it was never a concern that Granger or McRoberts would not sign after LeBron’s decision to return home. He also commented on the chase for Deng, explaining how he knew how much the front office wanted him and that Miami would have done anything to get him on the team. Perhaps the quote of the night (my personal favorite) came in response to signing Chris Bosh for such a lucrative contract. Riley responded perfectly saying:

"I'll be damned if I was going to let him walk out the door."

Of course like many, Riley went on to illustrate that he too was shocked by LeBron’s announcement, as he entered the off-season truly believing his return to the Heat  was inevitable. He pointed out that he began free-agency utilizing LeBron James’ presence as a negotiating tool. Riley elaborated saying:

"You recover. I don't want to go back in history, but after 45 years of being in the league, I think I've been around 15 transcendent players that walked out the door . . . and you move on. We were shocked, but we recovered.

"It was a tough blow to take, but we've recovered very well, and I think we will continue to recover."

"I went in with the notion that he was coming back. So I was selling it to players. I let him know that prior to free agency, that was the direction I was going. He never said to me, 'Don't do that.' "

Riley continued to express himself saying that following the Las Vegas meeting he truly believed LeBron was returning as nothing substantial occurred to make him inclined to think differently. It’s interesting that after so many reports explaining LeBron’s decision to return to Cleveland was 100%, that he gave Riley no forewarning, thus leaving one to wonder how close his return to South Beach actually was.

Being a seasoned veteran in the front office when asked about whether or not LeBron’s departure hurt him Riley responded sternly exclaiming:

"I don't get hurt. . . . This is business, all business."

Ira also noted that Riley spoke about his reaction to the Finals’ loss. Disclosing that he was pissed about the loss, and while speaking in his season ending press conference that he was not trying to call LeBron out at all.

Inevitably Riley was asked about whether or not Miami had plans to pursue Carmelo Anthony, and he responded sincerely saying:

"We were a little bit late to that party."

Riley gave his opinion on Wade revealing, that he truly believes that after witnessing Wade’s commitment this offseason that he can return to his elite play of the pre-LeBron era. In the closing of the teleconference Riley added that he has no doubt in his mind that Danny Granger will return to form, that the Heat are still looking for an additional swingman and that the door to re-sign Ray Allen, Greg Oden and Michael Beasley is still wide open. More quotes can of course be found in Ira Winderman’s original article.

Pat Riley is a true professional and after such an immense blow to begin the off-season I don’t think anybody in the league could have handled the fallout better than him. With new additions of James Ennis and Shabazz Napier Miami has also gotten younger, while of course securing veteran players. The fact that the Heat are in still in a position to contend admirable, as well as enticing.

An interesting season is just around the corner and Miami Heat fans have every right to be excited. A new era of Heat basketball has commenced and Riley appears fully confident Miami will shock the basketball world.