Miami Heat President Riley reacts after he was introduced during a celebration at the American Airlines Arena after the Heat's NBA Basketball Championship parade in Miami

Pat Riley can’t see Heat’s big three breaking apart


Around the league, nobody really expects this either. They may be ready just in case, but they don’t expect it.

This summer LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their contracts with the Miami Heat. Wade has said when the season ends for them the three will huddle up and discus their options.

Pat Riley, the executive who took the gamble of trying to bring them together then convinced everyone it would work, can’t see the whole thing falling apart after two titles and three trips to the Finals (and that is before these playoffs when the Heat are title contenders again),

That’s what Riley told Michael Wallace at ESPN.

“I always have concern when players are in the situation they’re in. But we feel we have the best organization in the league for those players to stay, and to also attract others to want to come here. With our three guys, we hope that this turns into a generational team. And that it’s not just we’re at the end of this four-year run right now because players have some options this summer….”

The goal is to retool the Heat’s roster around James, Wade and Bosh to keep them together and in title contention for another handful of years and produce another dynastic decade. Despite difficult financial decisions looming amid a more punitive luxury tax set to kick in this offseason, Riley hopes to rely on three franchise pillars that have kept the Heat proactive and productive all these years. It starts with stability.

It’s going to be difficult under the new cap to keep quality players around those three, unless they all take another pay cut. And even they do it still will not be easy.

Or, all three could decide to opt in and just keep their existing contracts going for another year, pushing the decision back 12 months.

With this group the Heat have been a title contender for four years and they can do it for a few more as long as LeBron is at his peak. Eventually there will be major changes.

But to quote the great Tower of Power, you don’t change horses in the middle of the stream. Which is why nobody thinks the Heat will break up this summer (whatever happens in the playoffs). And if anybody can keep retooling this team into a winner, it is Riley.

Which is why he’s not really worried.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.