One of the remarkable things about the late-career Pat Riley story is that he keeps getting asked for his advice about other franchises — even as he’s uncharacteristically struggling to fix his own.
First, there was all that Los Angeles Lakers chatter, following the resignation of Riley favorite Magic Johnson — and reports that owner Jeannie Buss wanted to bring Riley back aboard.
And now, the organization that supplanted the Heat as the power brokers in the NBA apparently has consulted with Riley as well.
This was an interesting nugget from the only person on ESPN, Stephen A. Smith, in reference to scuffling Warriors guard Klay Thompson who, like Kevin Durant, is due to become a free agent.
I'm told Klay Thompson isn't happy and here's why. pic.twitter.com/l9lELKbKCo
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) May 7, 2019
“Even folks like Pat Riley have spoken to folks within the Warriors organization to say, ‘Your priority had better be keeping the Splash Brothers together. Not only have they heard that from Pat Riley, they’ve heard it from Jerry West, they’ve heard it from others. Keeping the Splash Brothers together. Obviously you know that Kevin Durant is the best player on the team, he’s one of the top two players on the planet. But the point is they anticipate — although they hope otherwise — they anticipate that he may leave….”
That is typical Riley thinking, it would seem, not wanting to sink to the bottom. Recall that after the Heat added Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger in the summer of 2014 — and then watched LeBron James walk — Riley immediately maxed out Chris Bosh to top a competing offer from Houston, while giving Dwyane Wade just enough to stay. (Riley has later said he regretted the decision not to max Wade first, which ultimately contributed to the fractious negotiations in 2015 and the ugly departure of 2016).
But there’s a deeper question here:
Why is Riley, the man who would fine his players for picking opponents off the floor and scowled every time BFF’s Alonzo Mourning and Patrick Ewing went to dinner during a Heat-Knicks series, helping the team he and the rest of the NBA have been chasing? West, Riley’s mentor, isn’t even with the Warriors anymore, but now with the Los Angeles Clippers, who are far better positioned than the Heat. Did anyone — save perhaps Riley pal Gregg Popovich — offer the Heat advice during the Big 3 run?
No. They were all too busy legislating against the Heat, voting through punitive luxury tax penalties to ensure the Heat’s eventual breakup. If the Warriors are dying their last breaths, let them die Pat. Don’t throw them a lifeline. Or just tell them to sign a contract equivalent to James Johnson’s.