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Pat Riley again draws a line

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The Heat president pursued a strategy to improve the Heat’s chances now while protecting the future.

Los Angeles Clippers v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After last season’s trade deadline, Pat Riley said that although Danilo Gallinari would have fit in well with the Miami Heat, “somewhere you have to sort of draw a line in the sand for your team.” At that time, Oklahoma City was rumored to want Miami to remove lottery protections from their 2023 first-round pick, which the Thunder own, as well as to trade the Heat’s 2025 first-round pick.

Fast forward to this season’s trade deadline. The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson reported that Riley ‘is a big advocate of pursuing Lowry, according to a source in touch with the organization.” But the Raptors held steady in demanding Miami trade second-year player Tyler Herro for the 35-year-old Lowry. And for Riley, speaking to reporters late Thursday night, that was a line he didn’t want to cross.

Riley also played a bit of hardball with the Houston Rockets in a Victor Oladipo trade. The Rockets demanded Duncan Robinson “up until the last second,” according to an NBA agent, but Riley had drawn the line. Knowing that Oladipo would leave Houston in the off-season — he already turned down a two-year, $45.2 million extension offer — the Rockets traded Oladipo to Miami for Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and a 2022 pick swap. For the Heat, that’s a heist.

Riley spoke about striking a balance between the present and the future, saying the goal was to “fill a couple spots to help us this year but also to preserve what we have going on in the future — which is to have good, young, solid players and something to build around.”

He did that yesterday, finding another scorer in Oladipo. Like Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, Oladipo is also a two-way player. And Riley traded two players who barely played — Moe Harkless and Chris Silva — for someone who can replace Olynyk, Nemanja Bjelica.

In both the 2020 and 2021 trade deadlines, Riley has drawn a line in the sand to protect Miami’s present and future.