MIAMI – Pat Riley has identified an immediate priority for the Miami Heat: doing absolutely nothing.
After a year without stopping, that is your requirement.
There will be plenty of time for roster decisions, offseason workouts, combine and draft preparation, although Miami currently doesn’t have a pick, preparing a summer league team and free agency.
For now, though, Riley wants almost everyone in the organization to take a break after a 12-month whirlwind that saw an NBA Finals appearance in one season and an exit in another season via a first-round sweep. and all the time dealing with the coronavirus that changed almost everything.
“We’ve been at this for a while, so where we’re headed first is halftime,” Riley, the Heat president, said Thursday in his annual team status address that traditionally comes shortly after the season ends. . “Our players, our staff, the people who have been here every day, every day, they are mentally more exhausted than physically. And I think they just need to rest for a couple of weeks, a month.”
It was an important story in the NBA this season, how the compressed schedule and the additional demands of protocols that were put in place to deal with the virus, including daily testing often late at night or early in the morning, limits in the amount of time teams can spend together, limits on who they can be with – they annoyed the players and teams.
It wasn’t an excuse and Riley refused to make it one. All teams went through that.
“Everybody kind of disconnected,” Riley said.
Miami prides itself on its offseason training program, especially for its younger players, and even a 41-year veteran like Udonis Haslem said he won’t be taking much time off this offseason.
But everyone just needs a break, even the Heat.
“We’re not total nuts,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after the series against the Milwaukee Bucks ended. “We will give you a little time off. This is how it has been this season. It has been very difficult for everyone in this association. I didn’t realize what month it was. I didn’t realize it was Memorial Day weekend , and when I mentioned that, several players and staff were there with me. It’s been that kind of year. “
The Heat reopened their facility doors in May 2020 when the NBA allowed limited workouts to resume, not stopping until Miami was eliminated from this year’s Playoffs by Milwaukee in a first-round sweep that ended the weekend. past. Last spring’s workouts led to the bubble run leading to an appearance in the NBA Finals, immediately followed by free agency and draft prep, followed by pre-camp workouts, followed by camp. and then the season.
There was a lot of talk about the 71-day gap between the end of the Final and the start of this season and how it was much shorter than usual, but the reality is that very few of those 71 days were idle. Now, Riley said, there is a chance to breathe.
“Anyone who is involved in the NBA family or industry knows this was a challenging year in terms of how he used to do his job versus how he has to do it now,” Riley said. “But, in anything in life, like I said, no matter what happens to you, it’s how you deal with it and you adapt and everyone had to adapt.”
That said, Riley longs for a return to normalcy, something he believes could come next season. He missed being a part of some of the off-court things that he thinks set the Heat apart from other franchises, things like a benefit gala, a family festival, Christmas parties, and other events – some just for the team, some for sponsors, some for season ticket sponsors.
He even wrote Andre Iguodala a letter after this season, telling him how unfortunate it is that he missed all of that during his year with the Heat. Iguodala was acquired in February 2020, less than a month before the pandemic forced the League to suspend that season.
“He’ll be back, hopefully, back to normal next year when the season starts,” Riley said. “Everyone has more than enough free time to recharge the batteries. And then when we get back, I’m sure there will still be some COVID protocols, but they won’t be as draconian as before. We’ll see what they are, but I think we’re on more things. bigger and better. “
You will also take some time off. When he returns, he will start the summer job and he believes the Heat will find a way to be a contender again.
“Have a great summer,” Riley said. “There will be a lot of news on the way, but again, just one last message to our fans and everyone: We will be back.”