Miami Heat: Should fans brace themselves for disappointment?

Pat Riley addresses the crowd at the American Airlines Arena where Hublot hosted a basketball fantasy camp for special guests (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Hublot)
Pat Riley addresses the crowd at the American Airlines Arena where Hublot hosted a basketball fantasy camp for special guests (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for Hublot) /

Are Miami Heat fans in for a disappointing summer?

Miami Heat fans used to have a motto: “in Riley we trust.”

Now, it seems it depends on who you ask.

Going into the 2018 NBA Draft, Heat Nation was sure their team would walk away with a pick. Whether it be through cash considerations, by giving away a future pick or even dumping a current contract, fans were ready to welcome aboard some new talent via a trade.

Instead, they woke up on Friday morning with the exact same roster as a day prior.

So what happened?

"“There were some opportunities, but because of our situation we felt it was best to pass,” president Pat Riley said. “The second-round pick costs two second round picks or a future second round pick and cash or something. So, you know, when you get into the second round it’s like a lottery, it’s like a game of Monopoly, it’s not worth it.”"

And there’s certainly an argument to be made that it wasn’t. After all, the majority of fans weren’t even hoping to acquire a specific prospect. They simply wanted a trade, as to not be left out of the draft.

Not exactly the mindset a team president should have, much less one that guarantees success.

Still, Riley’s lack of draft night movement made many nervous. And his commentary on the offseason as a whole, didn’t help.

"“Aggressive summers are free agent summers, room summers, summers when you know you have either cap space or tax space to be able to really pursue somebody. We’re up against the tax. We all know what the accounting situation is with us. When you’re a free agent player like we were in 2006, 2010, you go after Kevin Durant… you go after [Gordon] Hayward. We’ve always thought big. As soon as it didn’t happen with Hayward, we went right to Plan B, and I think that’s where we are.”"

Logical, yes.

But apparently not what most fans wanted to hear.

With a nice free agent pool becoming available July 1 (perhaps even including LeBron James), most want the front office to be aggressive and finally catch that “whale” they’ve missed out on the last few summers. Even if that means dismantling the majority of the current team.

However, that’s not what Riley has in mind.

"“We look at this as maybe a two-year run. We’re a playoff team, we’re a playoff contender. How are we going to improve? …I think yes this could be – not a passive summer – but it might not be the kind of summer that you may think that something big can happen from that standpoint.”"

In other words, fans that expect a major overhaul should think again.

His vision makes sense, too. With a blossoming young core in Bam Adebayo, Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow, and veteran leadership in Goran Dragic, there’s already plenty to work with, moving forward. Especially considering that for the time being, money is tight.

That doesn’t mean that everyone is safe though.

It’s almost a given that a few contracts will be moved, with Wayne Ellington looking for a payday and Tyler Johnson‘s steeper years kicking in. James Johnson‘s name has been circulating around the rumor mill as of late, with some also wondering what Dion Waiters‘ future with the team looks like.

And then of course there’s Hassan Whiteside, a guy almost everyone has seemingly given up on. Except for Riley himself apparently.

"“Contrary to what people might think about us trading him, we haven’t offered him to anybody really, to be honest with you. You go through an emotional period with a player and you deal with it and you come back and you work things out.”"

He even likened the team’s relationship with Whiteside to his relationship with his wife.

"“This is like walking into my house and Chris is yelling and screaming at me and I don’t talk to her for two weeks and we get together and carry on for another four years.”"

Clearly Riley has no plans on letting go of his center any time soon.

Could this be because he knows the big man’s trade value has taken a dip over the past few months? Absolutely. But there’s still something to be said about Riley being willing to work through the recent tension. Because at the end of the day, there’s plenty of blame to go around.

While Whiteside certainly needs a behavioral shift, head coach Erik Spoelsta also needs to better utilize his man in the middle. Nevermind that Whiteside’s injury undoubtedly changed the course of his entire 2017-18 campaign.

At this point, it’s not yet clear what exactly will go down this summer. But one thing seems pretty obvious: fans should let go of any and all expectations.

Next: Dikembe Dixson: The Flame is getting hot with the Miami Heat

Because at the end of the day, the Miami Heat still trust in Riley.