Heat's Riley wants to bring back team's core
The Miami Heat have decided to exercise their team option to keep starting point guard Mario Chalmers for the 2013-14 season.
MIAMI -- With a chance to three-peat next season, Miami Heat president Pat Riley wants to bring back the championship cast for an encore in 2013-14.
Speaking at a news conference Wednesday that lasted almost 45 minutes, Riley indicated that he does not plan on breaking up the Heat's core ahead of their bid to win a third straight title, despite the harsh luxury tax penalties the team faces in 2013-14.
"We hope to bring all of our guys back," Riley said.
Would he have changed his mind if the Heat lost Game 6 or Game 7 to the San Antonio Spurs? When asked that question, Riley contemplated for several seconds before delivering his answer.
"Probably," Riley said. "The whole set of dynamics would have been an absolute negative flood of energy. But it didn't happen. Would we have approached it differently? We probably would have been thinking differently. But I don't even want to think about that."
When the yellow ropes came out in the final minutes of Game 6, Riley said he hoped for a miracle and received the basketball equivalent when Ray Allen hit a game-tying 3-pointer with 5.2 seconds left to force overtime.
"We know how it would have been covered [had the Heat lost Game 6]," Riley said. "LeBron [James] scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and then all of a sudden had two turnovers in the last minute. I don't know how that would have played out the next day."
Fortunately for the Heat, they won back-to-back championships and won't have to debate breaking up James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the light of another Finals failure thanks to some late-second heroics in Game 6 and Game 7. The intention is to bring the band back together for a run at the first three-peat (a phrase that is actually trademarked by Riley) since the Los Angeles Lakers' 2000-02 title stretch.
Miami already has made moves to that end. Riley announced the Heat will exercise the team's option on Mario Chalmers, which will pay the Heat's starting point guard $4 million in 2013-14. In addition to Chalmers, the Heat also will see the returns of James Jones and Rashard Lewis, who both exercised their player options for 2013-14.
It has been speculated the Heat could use their amnesty provision to release Miller, who is set to earn $6.2 million in 2013-14 and $6.6 million if he picks up his player option for 2014-15. Should the Heat cut Miller, the team could save more than $20 million in tax payouts.
But Riley said he has no plans to release Miller and even shied away from using the word "amnesty" Wednesday when it came to the sharpshooter's future.
"Unless I get a mandate about [the amnesty provision], we haven't talked about it," Riley said about Miller. "We really haven't talked about doing that. We just want to keep this team together."
Riley cited Miller's health and multidimensional play as the reasons he believes the veteran will be back with the Heat.
"I like our team," Riley said, when addressing Miller's future. "We don't like change. There are times that it's necessary to change, but we don't feel like it's necessary."
The ball, however, isn't in the Heat's court when it comes to Allen, the hero of Game 6. Riley said he has not received any word about whether Allen will pick up his player option for 2013-14. The deadline for Allen's decision is Saturday.
"I think he'll make the wise decision," Riley said.
Signed midseason for the veteran minimum, Andersen will become an unrestricted free agent Monday. The most the Heat could offer Andersen is the taxpayer's midlevel exception of $3.2 million next season.
During the Heat's parade Monday, Andersen told the AmericanAirlines Arena audience, "Let's try to win the three-peat next year." But so far, there hasn't been any indication that he will be back. Riley reiterated that he would like to see Andersen, who became a fan favorite in South Florida, back in the fold.
Even though the smell of champagne still lingers in the tunnels of AmericanAirlines Arena, questions about the summer of 2014 surround the team as James, Wade and Bosh can each opt out of his contract after next season and become a free agent.
At Tuesday's news conference, James said he hasn't thought about the possibility of becoming a free agent after next season, but he did state that the goal for him is to win championships with Wade and Bosh beyond 2014. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but Riley shares James' vision.
"That's my dream," Riley said of James' desire to continue winning titles in Miami. "When 2014 hits, we'll be ready to deal with that.
"We're just going to keep everything very fluid. We are so giddy about that and proud of our team. The challenge not just being, 'Can we win another championship?' The challenge really is how to manage it within the confines of a very punitive collective bargaining agreement. I'm going to leave that up to [owner] Micky [Arison]."
The new CBA stipulates that teams in the luxury tax will have to pay an incremental tax rate that will be much harsher than in previous years, which charged taxpaying teams dollar-for-dollar over the threshold. With about $85 million already committed for next season, the Heat will be facing an enormous tax bill that could deter Arison from bringing the roster back.
But indications are that Arison will be willing to bite the bullet.
"We'll be prepared for anything, as we were in 2010," Riley said of the highly anticipated summer of 2014. "I'm just going to paraphrase the words of my owner, and I believe it's our stance is that this year was about trying to win the title and staying the course and next year is going to be about trying to win a title and staying the course and tweaking the roster if we can, being very conscious about the economics of what it's going to take to do that."
One name to keep an eye on for next season: free agent Greg Oden. Riley recently visited with Oden and his agent Mike Conley Sr. in Miami. Riley said he would explore signing the young, but injury-riddled, center.
"[Oden] is such a young player and can be such a force that you'd want to monitor him closely," Riley said. "And we will do that."
Riley mentioned that he would expect to see internal improvement as well. Riley wants to see James, a career 74.7 percent free throw shooter, convert more than 90 percent of his shots from the line next season. James has recently said that is a personal goal as well.
As for Thursday's NBA draft, the Heat are not expected to have a pick since they've traded them away in recent years, including their 2013 first-round pick that was sent to Cleveland in a sign-and-trade that netted James.
Riley would not rule out the possibility that Miami would acquire a pick to select a player in Thursday's draft but indicated that the Heat had no regrets about not having a pick.
"If I ever have to do it over again, I'd give up No. 30 to Cleveland for LeBron James," Riley said. "I'll make that trade again."
With regards to his own future with the Heat organization, Riley said he has no plans to retire.
"As long as Micky will have me, I'll be here," Riley said. "Why would anybody want to get off this train?"
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