Pat Riley delivered an epic rant to the media yesterday.
During his media scrum, he was full of pride and seemed confident in Miami’s ability this summer to retain LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
“I don’t think we’ve got to recruit Chris (Bosh), Dwyane (wade) or LeBron (James),” Riley boasted to the media . “I’m not dropping rings on the table for those guys. They could drop their own.”
It’s a great sentiment, but there are a lot of problems with his thinking.
Miami has gone to four consecutive NBA Finals since the Big 3 united in South Beach.
However, the Eastern Conference has offered little to no resistence.
While Miami has two NBA Championships over the past four years, people shouldn’t be so quick to forget San Antonio was a Kawhi Leonard free throw or a Tim Duncan rebound away from winning a championship last season.
That means the Miami Heat are pretty close to being the Buffalo Bills of the NBA.
This isn’t the kind of success LeBron James envisioned when he famously boasted, “Not one. Not two. Not three. Not four.”
The ugly reality for Miami and James is that Chris Bosh has hit his peak as a player and is now adjusting his game to one where he’s not in the paint as much and he prefers to set up shop out on the perimeter.
While Bosh is a talented defender when he chooses, his comments about wanting to get away from elbows isn’t an encouraging one for his future as an elite big man in the NBA.
Bosh has claimed he’s willing to leave money on the table this summer so it’s likely he comes back at a reduced rate which means he’s a nice piece moving forward. However, that hinges on Bosh leaving money on the table (again) and Miami also being able to find an imposing big man to play alongside Bosh.
Those are currently two big ifs.
Where things get scary is with Wade. He was limited to 54 games during the regular season in order for him to rest his body and be ready for a deep run in the playoffs. That plan didn’t work out as Wade shot 43 percent from the field in the Finals and only averaged 15.2 points.
Even with his 20 games he played in the playoffs, Wade’s total games this season was less than an 82 game regular season.
That’s not the kind of sidekick LeBron James envisioned when he bolted to South Beach.
It’s also not the kind of second option that will keep James around.
The problem is Wade is in the twilight of his career so asking him to turn down $42 million over the next two seasons is something he likely won’t do. However, without him taking less money, Miami won’t have room in the salary cap to sign James, Bosh, Wade and whatever reinforcements they need.
This is where things get sticky because Miami needs a lot of help. They need a bruising big man to pair alongside Bosh, a floor general to get everyone their touches and take that pressure off of James and they need to strengthen their bench.
During the NBA Finals this month the Heat basically relied on a seven-man rotation. That won’t cut it when the San Antonio Spurs leaned on their depth and went almost 10 deep most games depending on matchups.
While the likely situation is that Miami will retain James, Bosh and Wade, the reality is a lot of things need to swing Miami’s way for that to happen. Primarily the team needs to convince Wade into leaving a lot of money on the table when it’s likely Wade’s last contract in the NBA.
If that first domino doesn’t fall the right way – and it’s likely Wade takes his money – then Riley is in a lot of trouble this summer.