The only thing less surprising than going learning another member of the New York Mets is having a leg amputated is the following report from the Associated Press :
Pat Riley said Thursday that “there’s a possibility” he will “miss one or two” upcoming Heat games because he wants to travel to the various NCAA conference tournaments and start seeing players who’ll potentially be in this year’s draft.
“I’ll be flying in and out,” Riley said. “But I think right now, I’ve got to do that. I need to do that.”
He will not be stepping down as coach, and did not reveal who will lead the team if, in fact, he does miss games.
The draft will undoubtedly play a big role in his plan for reshaping the Heat, who won the NBA title in 2006 but now need a drastic makeover after losing 29 of their past 32 games and falling to a league-worst 11-47.
“It’s just one job,” Riley said. “I happen to have two titles, but it’s one job. … The buck stopped with me when we won the championship and it stops with me right now when we’ve got the worst team in the league. I’ve got to try to rectify this and turn it around as quickly as possible.”
The Orlando Sun-Sentinel’s Ira Winderman is far too polite to call Pat Riley a quitter, but not too circumspect to ask “if these games mean so little that Riley can skip them, then why the heck is Dwyane Wade still playing?”.
If the Heat gets one of the top two picks, any additional insight into Michael Beasley or Derrick Rose wouldn’t hurt.
But what if the Heat winds up with the third or fourth or fifth pick? Will Riley have enough time to scout Eric Gordon or Jerryd Bayless or Brook Lopez?
Shouldn’t the final say go to General Manager Randy Pfund, who not only will also see the prospects during the conference and NCAA tournaments, but also has been viewing them for years?
Yes, Riley leaving the bench intermittently is not an issue. And yes, Ron Rothstein is more than capable. But isn’t this all window dressing?
When Stan Van Gundy was coaching the Heat, he did not get a vote on the draft pick. Why should he have, having spent the season immersed in the NBA? Now, if one player has one exceptional night, should that be enough to sway Riley?