Pat Riley may be one of the greatest executives in the NBA, but he failed miserably this year. The Miami Heat president's frustration boiled over at his end-of-the-season news conference last week. When a reporter asked about the upcoming free-agency period, Riley took a veiled shot at the now-departed LeBron James and his camp. "No more smiling faces with hidden agendas," Riley growled.
According to ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, LeBron would still be in Miami if Riley had not told James to dump the entourage of friends who had been with him since childhood.
Now, Riley needs to look in the mirror. The former Knicks and Lakers coach made some pretty lame moves after Miami was embarrassed by the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals. His signature free-agent signings were two injury-prone players, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. When McRoberts finally entered the starting lineup, he went down for the year with a busted knee. And head coach Erik Spoelstra barely used Granger.
Riley can't blame the season failure on Chris Bosh being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs. It was lost when the Heat finished 23-30 with four players from the 2014 NBA Finals team. But the Heat lucked out by landing promising center Hassan Whiteside and getting Goran Dragic in a midseason trade by unloading a bunch of players, including Granger.
Dragic and Whiteside, along with Luol Deng and Wade, gave the Heat a formidable starting lineup. There's no excuse for the 20-point leads Miami gave away so many times this season. It's obvious Spoelstra can't call a simple play to stop another team's run after a timeout.
When the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are beating the Heat for playoff spots with no-name players, Riley should realize his protégé can't win unless he has three big-name All-Stars in the lineup. The Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls made the playoffs despite injuries to their best players. Things got so bad, Mario Chalmers publicly complained that he didn't know what his role was on the team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder just fired head coach Scotty Brooks, who like Spoelstra had seven years on the job. The Thunder let Brooks go even though his best player, Kevin Durant, was injured for most of the season and the team posted a 45-37 record.
It's time for Riley to reevaluate his head coach.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.
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