After the NBA trade deadline came and went at 3:00pm on Thursday without any roster moves by the Miami Heat, team president Pat Riley emerged from his office to address the media at the AmericanAirlines Arena to discuss why the front office chose to stand pat.
“We said at the beginning of the year that this was a team that we liked; a group of young players and we wanted to see who would emerge,” he said. “At 10-21 (11-30 before the streak), it seemed like we had nothing and nothing to lose. And then there was a lot of adversity and they found some real positivity and the same chemistry that was born out of that losing to this time now where you’re seeing some guys emerge.”
Riley acknowledged that the win streak played a part in his thinking and now that the team is in playoff contention, he wants to see which players will step up if they want to be a part of this organization for the long run.
“I think the most interesting thing that we as an organization now will look at the last 25 games because this is about something that we can gain,” he said. “I want to see how they operate now with real pressure. If making the playoffs is important, then there will be some games that will have some pressure. If we can get those players that we believe in that we think can be part of the future to perform at a high level during this time and make the playoffs, then I think that’s what we’re looking for. We didn't make trades for the sake of making trades or lateral trades to get a look at other players.
“So when it came right down to it, myself and Andy (Elisburg), Erik (Spoelstra) and Nick (Arison) and everybody involved said, ‘Let's play this out.’ We've got a great roster of young players and some great leadership and some of the veterans that are emerging. We got a draft pick, we don’t know where it’s going to be. And we have that elusive moving number out there for the summer that will help us rebuild. I’m glad we didn’t do anything stupid.”
Riley still isn’t so sure that the team would have pulled the trigger even if the team was stuck in the bottom of the standings.
“Maybe, but I don’t think so,” Riley said. “Even when we weren’t winning, there were some players that were emerging and playing well. And so we don’t have those kinds of assets to go out and acquire. I think that the only thing that can change this franchise comes from within first, what we do in the draft, what we do in the summer and what we do on the trade market. But somewhere we will have a star that emerges. We already have a couple of guys that we consider stars and can you get one via trade, development from within, draft one, get one in free agency — that’s part of the game.“
Though we may never know just how close the Heat were to pulling off a move to either strengthen their playoff push or to acquire assets such as draft picks for the future, Riley appears to be content with what they have now with an eye towards the offseason to further improve the roster.
“I liked what I saw at the beginning of the season,” he said. “They were losing close games. They hung in there and in these last five weeks, there was a lot of positivity and I think it was that chemistry with Erik and his staff, and that winning streak where now it’s fun.
“Let’s take this to what we would say the fourth quarter and everything is on the line over the next 25 games and let’s see what they can do. I’m excited about that and the playoff run just like I’d be excited about getting the number one seed or the first round of the playoffs. Now we have bigger dreams here than that but you take what you get at that moment and so this is where we are.”