For Pat Riley and the Miami Heat, it’s on to Plan B.
Plan A – free agent forward Gordon Hayward – is taking his talents to Boston.
Hayward chose the Celtics over the Miami Heat and the Utah Jazz. The Heat held the first free agent meeting with Hayward on Saturday. He met with the Celtics on Sunday and the Jazz on Monday before announcing his decision on Independence Day.
On the bright side, Riley and the Heat made Hayward’s short list. Miami was one of the three teams he considered.
On the downside, reports say Hayward had eliminated Miami from contention before he made his final choice between Boston and Utah.
In two summers, Pat Riley has lost Dwyane Wade while missing on Kevin Durant and Gordon Hayward. Has ‘The Godfather’ lost his touch? WQAM’s hosts weigh in.
Orlando Alzugaray: “How can anyone start doubting Pat Riley? Playoffs 17 of 22 years, 11 division Titles, 7 conference finals appearances, 5 Finals trips, and 3 NBA Titles. I’ll stay loyal to the Miami Heat and Pat Riley no matter what. People forget he’s been operating under the cloud of Chris Bosh for the last few years. That cloud finally cleared up and the future is bright.”
Zach Krantz: “I’m not as upset about losing Gordon Hayward as I thought I would be. He was this year’s ‘whale’ but he wasn’t getting us to the NBA Finals by himself like a LeBron, Wade or Shaq. I won’t lose a ton of sleep over this. Riley hasn’t lost his mojo. He is in neutral and I believe he has a plan up his sleeve. Maybe it’s the 2018 plan, but I believe in Riley.”
Kevin Rogers: “I think the Heat were not a viable option for Hayward, who likely wanted to play for a team that is more of a contender, while also reuniting with former college coach. Hayward going to Boston seems like a good fit for him to exit Utah, where he would have remained somewhat anonymous. I don’t believe this affects Riley’s legacy as an executive as Kevin Durant and Hayward were never realistic options as they better situations to go to. Riley picking up Alonzo Mourning, Tim Hardaway, Shaquille O’Neal, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh over the years solidifies his legacy, regardless of these recent misses.”
Channing Crowder: “Pat will never lose the sauce.”
Alex Donno: “Pat Riley is still the most brilliant basketball mind in any NBA front office. I still love Pat Riley. But Pat doesn’t have the same gravitas with free agents as he did pre-LeBron. Players are more pragmatic than ever. They choose a destination based on teammates, rosters, and playing with friends. They don’t choose a destination based on the executive running it. The game has changed. Hayward chose a better roster with a ton of draft picks. He also chose to play with his former college coach. Riley couldn’t compete with what the Celtics had to offer.”