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.
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.
However, three question marks remain: the statuses of Mike Miller, Chris Andersen and Allen.
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.”