Fresh off their first NBA Finals appearance in six years, the Miami Heat have all the ingredients to make it back next season, according to team president Pat Riley.
During his end of season media availability, Riley said the team plans to "stay the course" while taking care of the current players on the squad and maintaining financial flexibility for what is expected to be a blockbuster free agency period in 2021.
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"I think we'll stay the course with our picks, stay the course with our young players," Riley said.
"We have decisions to make, obviously, with player contracts and free agents, and really do a deep dive into this season, myself and [coach Erik Spoelstra] and Andy [Elisburg] about how good we really are right now…flexibility with draft picks, free agency is coming next…and my thinking really hasn't changed."
Pat Riley had a lot to say about the past, present and future of the Miami HEAT during today's season ending press conference.- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) October 23, 2020
Spend the next 3 minutes and 43 seconds taking in all the #GodfatherTalk pic.twitter.com/jZpDjMJUls
"We have a good idea of what we want to do,'' Riley added.
"We know what our priorities are. It is to take care of the players that we have, that we have to make decisions on almost immediately. We know Bam [Adebayo] has a decision to make and we do with him. We know the guys that have sacrificed for us that we really like, our free agents, especially Goran [Dragic].''
Adebayo flourished into an All-Star and All-Defensive centre in just his third season and is eligible for a max extension this off-season, however the timing of his extension could play a factor in the Heat's future off-season moves. The Heat can extend the 23-year-old or wait until next summer to maintain cap room to make a run at the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Victor Oladipo, among others available in free agency.
"We value Bam Adebayo," Riley added. "He's an All-Star. And he's young. And he's great. And we're going to do what's in his best interest. That is what I think we have to do."
Meanwhile, Dragic, who was the team's second-leading scorer throughout the playoff run, is set to hit free agency, along with Jae Crowder, who provided elite perimeter defence and 3-point shooting this season, starting all 21 of their playoff games.
Additionally, Derrick Jones Jr., Meyers Leonard, and Solomon Hil will also be unrestricted free agents, while Kelly Olynyk has a player option for $12.3 million for next season.
The fifth-seed Heat caused several upsets with their gritty run to the Finals, making them the third-lowest seeded team to reach the NBA Finals since 1984. With Riley confident their current roster can make improvements internally, allowing for the growth of young players like Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro, and Kendrick Nunn, there's plenty of reason for optimism about their future.
"We have six first-round picks in the next eight years. We have three second-round picks, one that is owed to us by another team," Riley said. "So, we have a lot of assets, we have a lot of very good young players, we have great veteran leadership and talent. And I'm very optimistic about what's ahead of us."
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