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Pat Riley says Heat may add 15th player

Riley also said Bam Adebayo has improved across the board.

New Orleans Pelicans v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Miami Heat President Pat Riley held a press conference Tuesday, just two days before the team’s season opener against the Milwaukee Bucks. And he said the Heat could add a 15th player to their roster at some point.

Miami will enter the season with 14 players — one below the league limit — on standard contracts and two players on two-way contracts. The Heat haven’t signed someone yet because they are just $400,000 from the luxury tax threshold. But Riley said that he thinks “we have a real contender.” The following is an excerpt from a piece by Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald.

“Paying up to the tax, it has never been a mandate but it’s been always on my mind,” Riley said. “I’m not going to just say, OK, every year we’re going to go into the tax and we don’t win and Micky [Arison] is writing these big checks. I don’t think that’s fair. But when we have a real contender, which I think we have, then we’ll entertain that and I think we’ll entertain it this year, too.”

Miami’s depth has worried some fans and analysts. Victor Oladipo will be out to start the season. Unfortunately, KZ Okpala has not developed to show that he can contribute by now. It remains to be seen whether Udonis Haslem will see any NBA game action.

Of course, the Heat could wait until March to sign a 15th player. Around then, the prorated minimum salary will be around $400,000. As mentioned here before, the Heat may decide to turn Caleb Martin’s contract into a standard deal and add sign a G League prospect to a two-way contract. In Jan. 2020, the Heat converted Chris Silva’s two-way contract into a standard deal.

In other news, Riley said that Bam Adebayo is “extraordinarily better than last year across the board.” Adebayo made his first All-Star team in 2020, but didn’t get selected last year. (He was a better player in 2021 than in 2020, but Miami’s bad record hurt his chances.) Still, entering his fifth season — with his salary jumping from $5.115 million to $28.104 million this year — many will expect Adebayo to take another leap this year.

The 2006 NBA championship head coach also called P.J. Tucker “one of the most unselfish players I’ve ever been around” and said that, “He just wants to win.” At training camp, Erik Spoelstra said Tucker “screams Miami Heat culture.”