Miami Heat president Pat Riley took part in a teleconference with reporters today and offered some insight on to what we should expect this season from the Heat.
On Dwyane Wade:
“I want him back as a player. I want him back as a competitor. I want him back as a guy that wants to have the greatest year he ever had as a player. I read more articles about Dwyane being done, ‘he’s lost a step, he’s not the same player, he might not have the same motivation.’
There’s been a lot of things that have been written about him in that context, but I still see a player who can contribute heavily if he really wants to. And I do believe if he plays, he’s going to want to do that. We don’t want him back just as a placemat holder or somebody who’s going to be a veteran in the locker room. I mean, Dwyane is a great player [and] is a great talent.
He’s not the same guy he was in 2006, but he can be a very good player for us and [can] make a big difference.”
On the current roster and his expectations:
I think this year is a pivotal year for these guys when they come back and to try to dispel the notion and the perception out there that we are who a lot of people think we are. And to me that’s a great challenge on the part of the team and the coaching staff.
We are going to be a very, very competitive team, and I do hope that through the continuity and the belief that we have in this roster, that they’ll be better.
Once we made all those signings after Dwyane left, and then after they had a great 30-11 second half of the season and after making the playoffs last year with this team and also having Dion play hardly at all, that we got to give it another shot. You can’t just keep ripping things up every year and changing your roster, and so continuity is important.
I feel good about where we are right now. I don’t feel any tremendous anxiety to go out and do something big because quite frankly, we can’t, but we will again one day.
Riley offered an update on Hassan Whiteside saying:
“I’m convinced and I’m confident that if he just comes and plays every night as hard as he can play and do what he does best, which is rebound the ball and block shots and be a rim protector, go rim to rim, be a hard pick-and-roll player, defend, all of those things, and if he does it with a pure heart…I think he’ll have a great year. And I think he’ll go back to that first year and a half when people were talking about him being defensive player of the year. He has that in him, but it’s up to him…Hassan simply has something to prove.”
Riley obviously has faith in the roster he’s built and thinks they can compete in the “new” Eastern Conference. If Miami stays injury free, they will have a chance to make some noise in the playoffs, but they’ve been unlucky in previous years. Wade and Haslem’s futures also remain ambiguous, but one can hope they do return. Riley really seems to want them back.
The Heat have committed to a young core, but allowing players like Bam Adebayo, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson to get reps now will certainly pay dividends down the line. The Heat might not be in championship contention, but they’ll surely be fun to watch (well as long as they fix the third quarters).