Ready to roll
Riley says he won't revamp Heat's roster
Posted: Tuesday May 18, 1999 08:24 PM
MIAMI (AP) -- The Miami Heat practice court was empty, and the players headed for home after meeting with their coach one final time. Pat Riley leaned back against the bleachers and surveyed the silent gymnasium, a long offseason staring him in the face.
Less than 48 hours earlier, Riley was shouting to be heard above the din at Miami Arena. Now his words reverberated off the gym walls, and he sounded angry, arrogant, defiant and determined.
There's no need to revamp the roster, Riley said, and no need to sulk. He characterized the Heat's season-ending Game 5 loss Sunday to the New York Knicks as a temporary setback.
"I'm not despondent, because I don't want the players to be that way," Riley said Tuesday. "It's the end of a year, but I've recovered. I am full of spit and vinegar today. I'm ready to roll."
Then, Riley actually laughed. But he frowned when discussing criticism that the team has underachieved and should be dismantled.
"While you're looking for heads to roll, there will be nobody's hide and there will be nobody's head rolling," he said. "I have incredible faith in my personnel, period. To win a championship? Yes."
Riley defended Tim Hardaway and Jamal Mashburn, who played poorly in the first-round series that saw the eighth-seeded Knicks knock off the top-seeded Heat. He said he wants aging free agents Dan Majerle and Terry Porter to return next season. And he noted that the Heat would still be playing if not for Allan Houston's last-second basket Sunday.
"One bounce of the ball with eight-tenths of a second left in a game is not going to deter me from staying with these guys," Riley said.
"We will augment the talent we have on this team. Somewhere along the way we may make one deal that helps us. We might. But I will not give away core players to do that."
Riley passed up a chance to acquire Latrell Sprewell this year and Mitch Richmond last season, both times because of his reluctance to trade power forward P.J. Brown. Now, there's speculation that only center Alonzo Mourning will be off limits in trade talks.
Considerable criticism has been directed at Hardaway, who shot 27 percent against the Knicks and was shut out in the second half of the final game. But Riley said he wants the 32-year-old point guard back next season.
"He had a bad series. That doesn't mean he should go to Siberia," Riley said. "You've got to be realistic about what Tim's done for this team over the last 31/2 years. He had a bad series. Instead of burning him at the stake, you should have more compassion for one of our own."
Riley said the Heat need better leadership and more maturity, but it can come from the current roster.
"I don't think our players police each other enough. It's been left to me, and I do a good job of it. But that isn't the way it works in an ideal situation," he said. "When it comes to being a great team, there's a rite of passage when a coach can look at his guys and know they'll take care of business on their own."
Riley, notorious for his demanding training regimen, said offseason workouts will be the most strenuous yet. He noted that because of the NBA lockout, his team has played in only four of the past 17 months.
"This summer is going to be unlike any they've ever had," Riley said. "We will make this team better. We will find something to help. But I think we have enough right here."
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