Pat Riley felt the need to share something Saturday beyond his feelings of regret after losing Dwyane Wade this summer.
He felt compelled to bring up a story from the Summer of 2010 on his role in bringing Wade, LeBron James and Chris Bosh together to form the Big 3.
“I can tell you a funny story about -- maybe I shouldn’t -- but I can tell you a funny story about 2010," Riley said shortly after he finished answering a question regarding his approach to whale hunting in the Summer of 2017.
"When we took the three of them in, we had $49.5 million [in cap space]," Riley continued. "So we had $16.5 for each guy, which was the max deal. So, we got it all. Then they said, ‘Well, who do we have left?’ We got Mario [Chalmers] as the starting point guard and we got Joel [Anthony] as the starting center. That’s it, we have five guys. They said, ‘Well, we would like to get Mike Miller. How can we get Mike Miller?’ I said, ‘I can’t get you Mike Miller. We can’t get him. I don’t have the money.’ So we traded Michael Beasley to get the money, but they had to go down to $15 million.
"That was their choice.
"Then they wanted UD. Well, I can’t get UD even though I wanted to get UD. So, that whole concept about bringing guys in the room was on five-year deals. The interesting part is on July 9th, they all agreed to come in on five-year deals room only, so I didn’t have to give up any assets. Then at the 11th hour, they all wanted the sixth year. You know what that cost me and [general manager] Andy [Elisburg]? That cost us four picks.
"I just said to them, ‘If you want the sixth year -- because I know you’re going to opt out after the fourth anyhow -- but if you want the sixth year, I don’t want any of you to walk into my office and say, ‘Hey, can we get any young guys around here? Can we get some draft picks around here?’ Because they were gone. And, I don’t know why I told you that story.
"I always get amused by it because I watched our last draft pick that we gave [Cleveland] for LeBron, they traded it to Minnesota, ended up in Philly or somewhere, and he was playing in Cleveland and we still owed it. I told Andy when he goes to the CBA meetings, make sure that if you ever do a sign-and-trade and give up a draft pick for a player and that player leaves before the draft pick goes to that team, then it automatically is like given back to you. They don’t do that.”
Riley, of course, didn't share that story Saturday because he was amused by where that draft pick ended up or that he wished the Heat still had it.
He shared it to show us how much power in the NBA really belongs to the players, to show us how far team presidents and general managers and owners will go in sacrificing to put a dream team together.
This summer Riley lost big. He went hunting for Kevin Durant, a piece that would not only put Riley and the Heat in contention for another championship, but one he thought Wade would fully stand behind if Durant happened to choose Miami.
The problem for Riley was that unlike in 2010 when Wade, LeBron and Bosh came together on their own accord and were willing to sacrifice, Riley had no one in his corner this summer.
Bosh was angry with the Heat because they wouldn't let him return to the court during the playoffs and didn't participate in Durant's recruitment. And Wade was upset from the get go that he was Plan C, someone Riley was counting on to take less money to make a run at championships again with Durant.
For all the power we truly think Riley and his nine rings have in this league, he and every other team president and general manager is ultimately at the mercy of their superstar players lending support.
The stars who are willing to take less money, fewer shots and swallow some individual pride to team up and win championships are the ones that form super teams. The front offices and owners who don't have superstars willing to do that are the ones left behind.
Riley had an ace in his corner in 2010.
Now, he's just looking for another ace.