Jun 19, 2014, 12:58 PM EST
Pat Riley said he requires a week after a tough season-ending loss before he can speak coherently.
Four days after his Miami Heat lost in the NBA Finals, Riley addressed the media.
“Good morning, everybody,” Riley said. “You want to trend something? I’m pissed. OK? Get it out there.”
Pissed at LeBron James? If you want spin Riley’s comments that way, you easily could – though shouldn’t.
I don’t believe it’s coincidence reports have emerged in the last couple days LeBron wants the Heat to spend more. With an early-termination option giving him leverage, he’s challenging owner Micky Arison and Riley.
And Riley is firing right back.
“This stuff is hard,” Riley said. “And you’ve got to stay together if you got the guts. And you don’t find the first door and run out of it.
“We’ll find out what we’re made of here. It’s not about options. It’s not about free agency.
“There’s just looking around the room now and finding out who;’s going to stand up. This is time that you go home and take care of yourself and look at yourself and what are you going to do to come back and make the team better? Because we have a tremendous opportunity here for long-term success. But don’t think we’re not going to get beat again. So, just get a grip, everybody. That’s my message. That’s my message to the players.
“They’re hearing it right now. I’m sure they’ll hear it. We’ll make sure of it.
“You deal with it by doing what you have to do to make yourself better by taking accountability for yourself and your own actions and not laying it off on something else or somebody else.”
“He will do anything to get those guys to come back,” Riley said “There’s been a perception out there that I think has been construed in some way about him not wanting to pay the tax. That’s BS. He’s been paying the tax for three years.”
That last line is true. However, the issue is how much luxury tax Arison is willing to endure.
Though Riley characterized amnestying Mike Miller and trading a draft pick to dump Joel Anthony as moves to better position the Heat for next season – which is fair, because both players were under contract for 2014-15 – they also cut costs. And the timings of the moves leave little doubt that money was a factor.
The Heat could have used Miller on the court this season and then amnestied him this offseason while receiving the same future flexibility. They also could have waited to deal Anthony until this summer, when his contract would have held less remaining money, therefore requiring less of a sweetener to move, and again received the the same future flexibility.
Instead, Miami made both transactions earlier than necessary to reduce 2014-15 payroll. But the earlier, the more savings this season.
So, maybe Riley’s emotions were directed at LeBron. After all, Riley made clear he was addressing the players.
[RELATED: Could LeBron, Carmelo end up together?]
But he also respectfully stuck up for LeBron’s right to exercise his contractually negotiated options. He said he wants to talk more with LeBron, Wade and Bosh and values their input. He emphasized their responsibility is to take best situation financially for themselves and families.
When LeBron left Cleveland, Dan Gilbert’s notorious letter showed a disgusting sense of entitlement. There was none of that from Riley.
“I love LeBron,” Riley said.
I don’t think Riley was challenging LeBron to overcome the Heat’s spending habits. I think he was challenging LeBron – and everyone else – to overcome a crushing Finals defeat.
Riley spent a lot of time on how often Duncan’s Spurs, Shaq’s and Kobe’s Lakers, Jordan’s Bulls, Larry’s Celtics and Magic’s and Kareem’s Lakers lost. It seems Riley can tolerate losing. He just can’t tolerate succumbing to it.
If anyone knows how to motivate and coax superstars, it’s Riley, who described his approach as “you don’t pander and you don’t punish.”
In 2010, Riley famously flashed his championship rings to impress the big three. The players carried most agency in the super team’s creation, but Riley played a huge part – and he’ll again play a part in keeping it together.
“I don’t think we have to recruit Chris and LeBron and Dwyane again,” Riley said. “Four trips to the Finals and a great organization and two world championships – I’m not dropping championship rings on the table for those guys. They can drop their own.”
And if that’s not enough?
“Whatever it takes to keep them together, we’re ready for it,” Riley said.
At some point, Riley, LeBron and Arison must get on the same page about spending. As far as a will to win, Riley isn’t negotiating.
He’s demanding it.
Could that push LeBron from Miami? I guess it’s possible, but I’m betting Riley knows it won’t.
Spurs and Thunder, who’ve been best in the West lately, both fighting for position entering Christmas matchup
Dec 24, 2014, 7:00 PM EST
Injuries to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Kawhi Leonard have put both teams behind the eight ball
Dec 24, 2014, 6:06 PM EST
An additional confirmation that no Deron Williams deal gets done on Sacramento’s side unless they can also get the talented young big man as part of the package.
Dec 24, 2014, 5:30 PM EST
Young says Lakers played liked ‘Django Unchained’ without Kobe Bryant
Dec 24, 2014, 4:00 PM EST
Boston has Brandan Wright, large trade exception
Dec 24, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
The NBA has given us some good presents to open for Christmas.
Dec 24, 2014, 2:15 PM EST
McHale earned this.
Dec 24, 2014, 1:24 PM EST
This is a low risk pickup by the Rockets at a good price.
Dec 24, 2014, 12:58 PM EST
A minor move, but one that should benefit both teams.
Dec 24, 2014, 12:36 PM EST
Expect more Tristan Thompson in the short term, a trade for Cleveland to land a big in the longer term.
Dec 24, 2014, 11:45 AM EST
Miami fans will boo a little, but this isn’t Cleveland.
Dec 24, 2014, 11:00 AM EST
Lakers can use Steve Nash’s disabled-player exception to sign free agents
Dec 24, 2014, 10:00 AM EST
Orlando’s fourth-year players have All-Star cases. Yes, really.
Kendall Marshall turns back to play, runs like an airplane to celebrate… Jared Dudley’s missed 3-pointer (video)
Dec 24, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
Bucks don’t come back, fall to Hornets
Dec 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EST
Wizards center gets big slam, but Bulls win
How much did Damian Lillard’s game tying shot Tuesday look like series winner vs. Rockets? A lot. (VIDEO)
Dec 24, 2014, 8:30 AM EST
Same play, same spot, same result.
Dec 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EST
Lakers star says he trusts Lakers management
Dec 24, 2014, 2:15 AM EST
The Lakers pick up a win without Kobe Bryant around.
Dec 24, 2014, 1:25 AM EST
Just Vlade being Vlade.
Dec 24, 2014, 1:25 AM EST
He’s struggled some this season but Varejao has a skill set that is hard
Dec 24, 2014, 12:15 AM EST
Suns guards hug it out
- Five things to watch as NBA takes over Christmas Day 12
- Cavaliers center Anderson Varejao tears Achilles, done for season 28
- Miami Heat fans were hurt when LeBron left, they may let him hear it. Somewhat. 20
- Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris coming into their own for Magic 6
- PBT Tuesday Night Winners/Losers: Sixers, Lakers show the last will be first (for a night) 13
- Anderson Varejao leaves Cavaliers game with foot injury not to return, MRI Wednesday 5
- Report: Rockets ‘very confident’ they’ll land Josh Smith 19
- Report: Sixers want Andrei Kirilenko to report to team, prepare to play 16