Pat Riley has as good a track record in putting teams together than anyone in NBA history and has done so through savvy trades, blockbuster free agent signings and flexibility.
The Heat currently sit at 10-20 and Riley has been hesitant to say the team is rebuilding, but in a radio interview with Miami’s WQAM radio, the team president admitted that the franchise is in rebuild mode, but that they are “going to do it fast.”
Riley first pointed to his previous rebuilding efforts that resulted in championships in South Beach.
From the Miami Herald:
“We’ve done this twice,” Riley told WQAM’s Joe Rose on his radio show Wednesday morning of the Heat’s rebuilding project. “Basically we had to do it in 2001 when Alonzo Mourning went down with a kidney ailment. So we had two tough years which produced Caron Butler and Dwyane Wade and also Lamar Odom in free agency. That started that rebuild that turned into Shaquille [O’Neal] and the championship and the Big 3. In 2008, we took a hit and we missed on that pick in Michael Beasley. We didn’t really miss on it, but the best player was Russell Westbrook, taken with the [fourth pick].
Riley then pointed to his young core of Hassan Whiteside, Tyler Johnson, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson as valuable pieces:
“You go back and you look at it, we’re in a rebuild with young players that we’re familiar with and we have five or six guys that we really like. They will form a nucleus, two or three them. Tyler Johnson got 32 points coming off the bench and Hassan [Whiteside] had 32 [points] and 15 [rebounds in Tuesday’s double overtime loss to Orlando]. We have some very good young players. Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson, they have been thwarted their injuries. Justise missed  games [with a wrist injury]. Josh missed seven weeks with an MCL [sprain]. So, they’re a little bit behind.
Riley also commented on loving the young core, but that roster flexibility is the franchise’s best asset:
“But we love our young core. And what we have is flexibility. And you need flexibility in this league to be able to move quickly. You can’t get paralyzed by the cap or not being able to make room and being able to trade players. I think the No. 1 asset that we have right now is our flexibility moving forward. We have a first round pick this year. So we’re dealing with it. We’re dealing with that word that you hate to use – that we have to rebuild. But we will rebuild quick. I’m not going to hang around here for three or four years selling this kind of song to people in Miami. We have great, great fans. They’re frustrated. They’ve been used to something great over the last 10 years and so right now we’re taking a hit. I think we can turn this thing around. As I said, if five of those [close] losses were turned into wins we could be in the playoffs right now. But they didn’t.
“You can use that word rebuild. But we’re going to do it fast.”
Look for Miami to be active as the trade deadline nears.