Pat Riley on Heat’s next step: ‘We know what we have to do, and we’ll do it’

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So there was Pat Riley, in all his end-of-season defiance, vowing more from the Miami Heat front office than arguably had been received from his players in their rapid-fire exit from the NBA playoffs.

“We’re ready to move forward,” the Heat president said Thursday as he opened his annual media wrap-up. “We know what we have to do, and we’ll do it.”

And do it now.

Such is the cold reality of being soundly swept 4-0 by the Milwaukee Bucks just one season after advancing to the NBA Finals.

“I don’t think you can continue to defer your [salary-cap] room or your flexibility down the road,” Riley said, setting the tone for what could be a compelling offseason. “Somewhere you to have to make a decision on the two or three players that you think are your franchise anchors, other players around them who can complement them, and players that will really add a specific fix to what our weaknesses are.”

The anchors, despite uneven postseasons by both, Riley said, are Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo.

“We’ve got a great core with Jimmy and Bam,” he said, “and regardless of how they performed in the playoffs, we didn’t make a mistake on those guys, that’s for sure.”

As for the team weaknesses that need to be addressed, Riley cited size, rebounding and defense.

What Riley said the Heat can’t afford is to allow the series against the Bucks to define the season or the roster.

“It doesn’t really make any difference what happens to you,” he said. “It’s truly how you deal with it.”

And there is plenty to deal with, an agenda that will require broad forethought and extensive action.

When it comes to Adebayo and Butler, it is a matter of looking both back and ahead.

Had Adebayo not insisted on completing his five-year, $163 million max-scale extension last November, the Heat could have had upward of an additional of $13 million in cap space this offseason.

“He did what was in his best interest, and we simply said, ‘yes,’ " Riley said. “We tried to convince them that this could be different, but at the end of the day this is what the man deserved.”

Then there is Butler, who is eligible for four-year, $181 million extension this summer that would have him under contract through his 36th birthday.

“Well,” Riley said, “somewhere along the line, you know when you have great players, All-NBA players, All-Defensive players, you know, players like Jimmy, that are a high level, very impactful players for you, that you’re going to have to pay them what their market value is.”

And when it comes to market value, Riley was effusive in his praise Tyler Herro, even in the wake of the guard’s uneven second season and shaky postseason.

“He’s a core player. That’s all there is to it,” Riley said of the 2019 first-round pick. “When we got swept by Milwaukee, that was an absolute team breakdown. It wasn’t any one individual. When you get blown out like that and you get beaten by a great team, it isn’t any one individual. Tyler Herro is a core player for us.”

Whether that core includes Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn could stand as the Heat’s biggest decisions of the offseason, with both impending restricted free agents, with the Heat with the right to match outside offers.

Riley called Nunn “a hell of a player,” and said Robinson, “could be considered the top shooter in the NBA.”

“I applaud both of these guys for coming in with just very little reputation, no guarantees, and winning their jobs, winning their spots, winning their time,” Riley said. “They’ve had their ups and down, but young players will. But we like both of them, and we’ll see what happens with both of them, when it comes to the market.”

Even more of an abstract for the Heat is what comes next for free-agent guard Victor Oladipo, who played only four games after being acquired at the NBA trading deadline and then underwent season-ending quadriceps surgery.

“I think we’ll just monitor him, we’re going to work with him, and then we’ll see what happens in August when we sit down and talk with him,” Riley said.

In the end, it was another Riley season-ending session less about answers and more about setting the table for what follows.

“There’ll be a lot of news coming along the way,” Riley said. “But, again, just the last shout out to our fans, and to everybody, is that we’ll be back.”

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