Miami Heat fans are still up in arms over the departure of franchise icon Dwayne Wade. But Pat Riley has already moved past it. The Heat president has set his sights on Los Angeles Clippers stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, who will both become free agents next summer.
Pat Riley waiting for Bosh to quit?
One league source points out that Riley is waiting for Chris Bosh’s contract to come off the books by next February if the all-star forward announces his retirement later this year. Remember, Heat did not allow Bosh to play in the postseason despite the forward’s insistence that he was ready to return. Does Riley want Bosh to retire?
Bosh, who last played a game on February 9 against San Antonio Spurs, is owed approximately $76 million until 2019. In the event that Bosh is unable to play next season, Miami can claim medical hardship and clear the decks for two max contracts next offseason. This would essentially allow Riley to sell Paul and Griffin on the idea of taking their collective talents to South Beach.
As ESPN’s Brian Windhorst pointed out, “if the doctors doesn’t believe Bosh can continue his career, the Heat can take the 11-time All-star’s contract off their books for salary cap purposes.”
Building blocks: Whiteside, Winslow, Richardson
Riley still views Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson as three integral pieces of the future. If Miami can somehow conjure up 40-45 wins with a young squad that would be without Dwayne Wade for the first time in 13 seasons, it would help Riley’s recruiting pitch next summer.
However, if Miami fail to make the playoffs next season, he would struggle to convince Chris Paul – who is desperately chasing a championship ring after turning 31 a few months back. By next summer, Paul would be 32 and perhaps entering the final stage of his storied career.
It’s still early to rule out the Banana Boat pipe dream of best friends Paul, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade coming together to form a Super Team. But there are plenty of stumbling blocks to make that work. For starters, Anthony is contracted for another three years and Wade just made a two-year commitment to hometown franchise Chicago Bulls. Also, James would have to leave Cavs to play with Paul since Kyrie Irving remains the point guard of the future.
Paul would give himself a better chance of winning a championship by moving out East. He’d negate the threats posed by Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs, two teams that the Clippers will have to go through this coming season to have a shot at their elusive championship.
If Riley’s plan comes to fruition, Miami’s starting line up would feature Hassan Whiteside, Blake Griffin, Justise Winslow, Goran Dragic and Chris Paul. Eastern conference champions, anyone?
Heat fans will be best advised to trust in Pat Riley. There’s a reason they call him The Godfather.