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Pat Riley: Heat will ‘rebuild quick’

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The Heat have missed the playoffs just four times in Pat Riley’s 22-year tenure.

They won a championship within four years of their first three lottery trips.

The fourth foray into losing came two years ago, and Miami is on track for another lottery season this year.

So, what now?

Riley, as transcribed by Anthony Chiang of The Palm Beat Post:

“We’re dealing with that word that you hate to use — that we have to rebuild,” Riley told WQAM’s Joe Rose on his radio show Wednesday morning. “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. … You can use that word rebuild. But we’re going to do it fast.”

Does he mean tanking? I don’t know that’s what he meant, but it sure sounds as if he’s warning fans about tanking.

That would make sense. Miami has its own first-round pick in what projects to be a loaded draft, and this might be the Heat’s last chance to pick high for a while. They owe the Suns two future first round picks (one top-seven protected in 2018 or unprotected in 2019, the other unprotected in 2021).

Further, Tyler Johnson‘s salary will drastically increase in 2018. That incentivizes Miami to spend big in free agency this summer, which would improve the 2017-18 Heat.

Higher max salaries under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement will make it harder for the Heat to add multiple stars, though. Put another way: It’s even more important for Miami to add talent through the draft.

So how do the Heat tank? They seemingly want to build around Hassan Whiteside, but they could trade Goran Dragic (which would likely add cap room for this summer).

After his first losing season with Miami, Riley drafted Dwyane Wade and bought low on a Shaquille O’Neal who demanded a trade from the Lakers. The next off year was followed by signing Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Is Riley uniquely adept at building winners quickly, or did luck play a large role in those incredible turnarounds? That long-standing debate will add another chapter over the next year or two.

John Wall scores 37 as Wizards down LeBron James, Cavs 127-115

Associated Press
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CLEVELAND (AP) John Wall scored 37 points, Bradley Beal added 27 and the Washington Wizards began a challenging road trip by beating LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 127-115 on Saturday night.

Wall scored 18 in the first quarter, when the Wizards shot 82 percent, and Washington held on down the stretch to avenge an overtime loss to the NBA champions last month.

James, who briefly wore goggles to protect an eye injury sustained Friday night, scored 24 and added 11 rebounds and eight assists. Kyrie Irving added 23 points and Kevin Love 17 for Cleveland, playing at home for the only time in a seven-game stretch.

Washington’s victory cut Cleveland’s lead in the Eastern Conference to a half-game over idle Boston.

Rudy Gobert calls out Jazz teammates after loss: “We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice.”

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Utah and the L.A. Clippers are almost locked into a first round, four vs. five battle in the Western Conference. The only question is which team will have home court, and the Clippers took a big step towards that beating the Jazz at home Saturday. While the Jazz still has a half-game lead, the Clippers have a much softer schedule the rest of the way.

After that loss, Jazz center Rudy Gobert was ticked off and called out his teammates. Via Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“We’ve got guys that compete, but some of us don’t compete. Some of us just think about scoring. That’s what it is. … Coach keeps repeating it: We’ve just got to compete. We’re too nice. Those guys, we know they’re going to get calls. We’ve just got to come out aggressive and ready to fight.”

Interesting comments for a team that is third in the NBA in defensive rating and 13th in offense.

Gobert is frustrated as Utah has dropped four of its last five, and the slump has been on both ends of the court. The defense has struggled, but if guys are looking to score too much they aren’t doing it efficiently because the offense has been worse.

This slide likely costs Utah home court in the first round, which could matter in what will be a tight matchup with Los Angeles. Utah needs to find its grinding rhythm again heading into the playoffs, at their best they can knock off the Clippers in the first round. Just not like they are playing now.

One thing to watch, Utah’s Gordon Hayward asked out of the game in the fourth quarter due to what is being called a bruised muscle in his leg. If he misses any time or if this lingers, it could be trouble for the Jazz in the postseason.

 

LeBron James starts game with protective goggles. That lasts about a minute.

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LeBron James suffered a scratched cornea Friday night when he went up for a layup late in the third quarter and Jeremy Lamb tried to contest and caught him clean across the face. LeBron got the and-1, but had trouble keeping his eye open in postgame interviews Friday.

Saturday he did play — wearing protective goggles. As you can see above.

That lasted about a minute.

LeBron was likely frustrated as the Cavaliers defensive woes had the Wizards up double digits much of the first half.

Kobe Bryant says he’s “only a phone call away” if organization needs his advice

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For the first time since he walked off the court in his final game, Kobe Bryant was back at Staples Center Friday night.

The reason was Shaquille O’Neal was getting a statue out in front of Staples Center (a building that may not have gotten built without the two of them). The two famed feuders sat next to each other and joked around through the ceremony. Time heals all wounds.

With the new management of the Lakers — specifically Kobe’s former agent Rob Pelinka as GM — there has been speculation Kobe could take on a role. He’s not looking for something formal, according to reports, but he didn’t say no, either, when asked.

I picture Kobe as a guy who someday buys a team, not a guy who wants to haggle with agents over the details of a contract. He’s not going to take on a day-to-day role, he likes the retired life and what he is building with the Kobe brand.

That said, the Lakers front office can use all the smart voices it can get as they try speed up a rebuild. They should give him a call every once in a while.