Miami Heat president Pat Riley addressed the trade deadline acquisitions of Victor Oladipo and Nemanja Bjelica and other issues in a late Thursday night news conference.
Here’s what Riley had to say:
▪ On why he wanted to make changes: “We’ve been continuing to work on trying to improve the team and try to get better organically from inside. At the same time realizing even though we went to the Finals last year and we love our base of young players that if there was any way to fill a couple spots to help us this year but also to preserve what we going on in the future – which is to have good, young, solid players and something to build around.
“The other thing you always think about when you’re in our position,… is how do we build our asset base. I do think we have a very good team. We added to the team with Victor and [Bjelica]. If you can add to your asset base and keep your future somewhat intact, which I didn’t really want to mess with too much and add to that, I think we’ll be ahead of the game.
“We will miss Kelly Olynyk. He’s a hell of a player. Both of those players can help us. Bjelica is sort of a facsimile of Kelly. He brings the three-point shooting, the spacing and the size at that position for sure. Goran [Dragic] is very familiar with him. We think he’ll fit into our system pretty well. We helped ourselves today.”
▪ As we reported, Riley said the Heat hasn’t discussed an extension with Oladipo, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer: “There hasn’t been any discussion with anybody about anything in the future. We have their Bird Rights and that’s the most important thing a player wants when he gets traded.”
▪ On Oladipo: “Victor will give us an entirely different kind of player than what we have on our team. Victor gives you a slasher, runner, quick player, scorer. We know him really well.
“I think he’s a flat out scorer. We have scorers. Both Bam [Adebayo] and Jimmy [Butler] have proven they can score the ball. Both are high IQ players, both passers, rebounders. Sometimes you might need a player different from the players that might be supporting them as shooters. Victor brings you the whole package.
“If you look at all the things he did prior to his injury, the guy can be a catch and shoot 38 percent three-point shooter as well as being a slasher, cutter, defender. He can add a tremendous amount to our team. We’re very happy to have him. Over the next two or three months, we’ll see what happens. We add a slashing scorer to our team. We don’t have to always depend on making threes to win games.
“The addition of Victor, in particular, I’m really excited about the fact he brings us a different presence. He’s not just a shooter. He can really defend. We don’t have all of the same [skills among the Heat’s players]. Victor brings us a little bit of a different dimension in how he scores. He can make threes, can make medium range, can make pull-ups, can go to the rim. He’s a great free throw shooter. He’s a 25-5-5 guy.”
▪ Riley said “the most important thing is to incorporate both of these players into the present moment and see how Spo will [incorporate them]. I’m not happy how the game ended tonight from an officiating standpoint, but I don’t want to get fined for that….
“We have a lot of depth. We have a lot of versatility. Spo will have a lot of options to be able to use. I think we kept everything we needed in the cupboard to cover our defense and offense. We’ve got shooters, slashers, leaders making plays. Players have to step up and play and get the job done.”
▪ Riley declined to specifically discuss trade discussions with Toronto on Kyle Lowry:
As far as giving up assets, “there’s a line with any move,” Riley said, before adding he did not want “to talk specifically about that player. I don’t want to get into conversations we had with a number of teams. You have to be very conscientious of what you do with your asset base and youth. We have a lot of very good young players. We just needed some more help.”
▪ Riley, on former Spurs center/power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, with the Heat reportedly the strong favorite to sign him: “I think a lot of these players, whoever gets bought out, are going to have a lot of teams going after them.”
Riley said there’s no specific player lined up for the Heat to add with the buyout.
▪ Riley, on adding Trevor Ariza last week: “This goes back to 2004. I was in… Los Angeles… I worked Trevor Ariza out when he was 19 years old. We have always throughout the years had our eye on this player. He needs another two weeks of games getting his legs under him, getting his rhythm. I think he will bring, with Andre [Iguodala] and KZ [Okpala], this three and D mentality of real length and defensive ability as he did tonight. He’ll give us a defensive presence.”
▪ Riley indicated he has no interest in trading Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson.
Riley said Robinson “has expanded his game. When you’re running around the perimeter with your head under the rim… and make another cut…, he keeps working. He’s making more layups than he’s ever made, more great cuts than he’s ever made. He rebounded the ball very well tonight.
“When you look at our young guys tonight, Tyler had 29 tonight, their upside is so big that you don’t know [what they can become] right now. When you see 29, you can’t let go of those two assets [Herro and Robinson]. You just can’t. They can become truly great. I hate to have that come back to [bite] us if we move them. We’re not going to [move them].”
He acknowledged that three-point “percentages are down a little this year” for Herro and Robinson but “they can be fixed. Players go through shooting slumps. It would be hard for Duncan to average 44 percent [on threes again, as he did last year] for a long period of time. We’re happy with both of them. They’re both [going through a shooting slump]. They’ll come out of it.”
▪ Riley said there are “teams bunched up in the middle, like us. I’d watch out for us [and other teams bunched up]. I like our chances.”
Riley, sounding optimistic about the Heat’s future, spoke of “doing something special, if that’s a possibility.”
▪ Riley cracked the trade deadline “should be in the summer time so no one has to go through this. I get neurotic at this time. Spo does. The players do. You can’t blame them.”
With social media, “what happens today is really over the top. Before social media, you could talk about players until you are blue in the face, and nothing ever gets out. When there is that much conjecture out there about what might happen, the creation of trades by people, and names pop up left and right, it has an impact on the psyche of players,… [more so] young players.”
Riley said he does not partake in social media.
FYI: Oladipo and Bjelica will take physicals on Friday and then join the team in New York, where the Heat plays on Monday against the Knicks.
Jimmy Butler, who missed Thursday’s loss to Portland with a stomach illness, accompanied the team to Charlotte – where the Heat plays on Friday – but Goran Dragic (back spasms) did not.