Vegas doesn’t think the Miami Heat are back to contender status but ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith sure does, believing a chunk of Riley’s rejuvenated motivation can be connected to the departure of LeBron James last summer.

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“I personally believe that the Miami Heat can easily be in the Eastern Conference Finals going up against the Cleveland Cavaliers next year,” Smith said on the Freeman and Fox Show. “I don’t think they would win that matchup. I would give Cleveland the edge if Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving and LeBron James — all three of them — are healthy but it’s a match I would crave to see.

“It’s not only possible I think it’s probable but I think when you talk about Miami returning to championship glory they would need to acquire the likes of a Kevin Durant next offseason to be able to solidify that for years to come.”

The NBA Insider also thinks the Miami Heat President has his sights set on LeBron James.

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“Pat Riley is a guy that I believe is coming for LeBron James,” he said. “I believe that Pat Riley would have retired at the end of this season that just passed had it not been for LeBron James deciding to leave Miami. When LeBron decided to leave Miami, I think that has lit a fire under Pat Riley to which we haven’t seen in some time. I think he is hell-bent on returning Miami to its glory and showing LeBron James that it is not the way to go, to go back home and depart and all of this other stuff. And I think that Pat Riley is going to do everything in this Heat swing over these next five years since LeBron James’ departure that LeBron James made a mistake in leaving the Miami Heat. And I think that that’s a huge motivation and I think the actions that you see him take will be indicative of that.”

Smith also called DeAndre Jordan “an absolute fool” for leaving the Clippers and the money to go and be the man in dallas, that if DeAndre doesn’t change his mind before making it official on July 8, it “may go down as one of the stupidest moves in NBA history.”

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