For the first time this offseason, Miami Heat President Pat Riley put his voice to the free-agency tumult that has reshaped his roster in the wake of the departure of forward LeBron James.
On the day the Heat formally announced the re-signing of forward Chris Bosh, Riley touched Wednesday on a variety of topics in a teleconference, with the Heat this summer adding Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger in free agency, re-signing Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers, Chris Andersen and Udonis Haslem, signing draft picks Shabazz Napier and James Ennis, and retaining Norris Cole and Justin Hamilton.
The move that resonated most, of course, was James' free-agency return to the Cleveland Cavaliers, a move that initially appeared to blindside the Heat.
Wednesday was the first time Riley addressed the offseason beyond quotes offered in team-issued handouts.
"I feel very good about where we are right now, at this moment, with the 12 guys under contract," Riley said. "Unlike the prognosticators who judge where we might be or not be, I feel we are up to the challenge."
Among the topics he touched on:
-- On James' departure: "You recover. I don't want to go back in history, but after 45 years of being in the league, I think I've been around 15 transcendent players that walked out the door . . . and you move on. That's what happens. We were shocked, but we recovered.
"It was a tough blow to take, but we've recovered very well, and I think we will continue to recover."
-- Of beginning free agency with a plan of rebuilding around James, "I went in with the notion that he was coming back. So I was selling it to players. I let him know that prior to free agency, that was the direction I was going. He never said to me, 'Don't do that.'
"I don't think I was misled. But I don't think I was encouraged either. That's business."
-- Of his emotional diatribe at season's end, after the Heat got blown out in the NBA Finals 4-1 by the San Antonio Spurs, when he appeared to call out James for even thinking about leaving, "I don't think I was emotional. I told you I was pissed. . . . I wasn't thinking that at all. My message that day was borne out of just getting beat by a great team."
-- Of possibly being hurt by James' decision, "I don’t get hurt. Very rarely do I get hurt. My wife will hurt me. My daughter might hurt me. And my son. But this is business."
-- Of believing James would stay when he left his meeting with James in Las Vegas two days before James' decision, "There wasn't anything in that meeting that told me that wasn't going to happen."
-- Of possibly jumping into the Carmelo Anthony race after losing out on James: "That dance card has already been punched. We were a little bit late to that party."
-- Of limiting most of the team's contracts to two years this offseason, "In 2016, just about every team in the league is going to have more than $10 million in room. So it tells you how teams are positioning themselves for the future."
-- On having had to retool and possibly having to do it again in 2016, "It's fired me up. I don't like to get beat at anything. . . . This process didn't take anything out of me other than this one notion . . . that [generational team] chain has been broken prematurely."
-- On bringing back Wade on a two-year contract that starts at $15 million this coming season, after he missed 28 games last season, "When it comes to Dwyane, we're just going to see where we are with him. And we think with what he's done this summer, there's a possibility Dwyane can turn back into who he was before he ceded a good part of his game to LeBron, and the same thing with Chris."
-- On giving Bosh a maximum five-year, $118 million deal, when Bosh would have settled for less had James returned: "He's the most versatile big man in the NBA. And that's what the market was for him, and Micky stepped up to the plate. . . . I'll be damned if I was going to let him walk out the door."
-- Of having to up the team's offer to Bosh in the wake of the Houston Rockets closing in on a deal with Bosh, "Everything was off the table. As soon as LeBron left, everything was off the table. You had to respond to that."
-- On adding Deng so late in free agency: "I think the first day that I met with him, I truly believe if we could have signed him, he would have signed. At that time, we were an exception team. We were sort of dealing with the thought we were an exception team. . . . So that discussion had to take a number of meandering roads. But he knew that we wanted him, that we would do whatever we could to get him."
-- Of possibly losing McRoberts and Granger after James decided to leave, "Nobody tried to back out of this thing and move somewhere else."
-- On adding McRoberts, and what the free-agent forward could add with his versatility: "I think he flew under the radar a little bit, because last year was a breakthrough year for him. . . . The fact that he led all of stretch fours in assists and also assist-to-turnover ratio, he's not a turnover guy. . . . He's an athletic guy. He's sort of a younger Chris Andersen who can do a few more things."
-- On the hope with Granger, amid his recent injury history: "I've been through this before with players who have had injuries and came back and have had setbacks. And it takes some time. . . . I like him. I've always liked him as a player. He's a swing player. He can play the four-spot. . . . So I felt it was low risk, high reward."
-- Of what he needs to still fill out his roster, "Probably the one area we want to shore up, is adding another perimeter player. . . . But we're not in a rush now. Probably another wing man and also another big."
-- On the notion Napier was drafted to appease James: "I said the night of the draft, 'I think LeBron had good taste.' We always like him. We were not sure at that time, knowing Mario was going to be a free agent, not knowing if we could sign him back."
-- Of the two-year agreement with Chalmers for the same $4 million salary as last season: "We like him. Mario's a big-game player. I think he learned probably more than ever in this [NBA Finals] series that you can never take anything for granted at this level. . . . We're looking at Mario differently now, with this roster. He's a point guard for us, but we're also looking at him as a two."
-- On the team's hopes for Ennis, the swingman taken in the second round of the 2013 NBA draft: "He can stuff up the stat sheet . . . He's a very athletic, high-motor player. He needs a lot of work. He's still really raw. . . . He has improved markedly."
-- On the possibility of retaining Ray Allen: "We haven't moved on. My conversations with his agent, I've been told he has not made a decision with anything."
-- Of Greg Oden possibly returning: "We have talked to [agent] Mike Conley and right now we have not made any decisions. . . . He's still on our board."
-- Of Michael Beasley possibly returning: "Still a consideration, absolutely."
-- On losing James Jones, who elected to join James in Cleveland: "I wish him nothing but the best. He was a good solider here for the last six years. . . . He made a decision to relocate."
-- On the East playoff race, "I'm going to put our team right in the mix with all of those guys. . . . Is Cleveland going to be as good as everybody thinks they are? Nobody really knows."
-- Of retaining Hamilton, who has a Friday deadline to guarantee 50 percent of his 2014-15 salary: "I think we're probably going to move forward. We like Justin and what he's done in the summer league."
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