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Heat player availability problem needs to be fixed

Miami Heat president Pat Riley opened his end-of-season press conference Monday by talking about the need for change.

But Riley wasn’t hinting at any imminent changes to the Heat’s roster following the team’s early exit from the playoffs this season. Instead, Riley used his opening statement to emphasize the need to change the Heat’s way of doing things in order to solve their player availability problem.

“The things you do to try to win, if they’re not working, need to change,” Riley said at the start of his 43-minute news conference at the Kaseya Center Monday afternoon. “So this does not mean that the word change is a sinister word here. There are a lot of elements that go into a culture, the erosion of a culture, being together for 30 years, generational change, NBA issues that affect the entire league when it comes to health , players missing matches and availability. .

“It’s definitely a deep dive for us this summer in player availability. So we need to change some things. But we’re certainly not going to destroy anything here.”

How will Heat handle Jimmy Butler’s max extension request? Pat Riley offers insight

The opening statement turned out to be the theme of Riley’s highly anticipated annual end-of-season press conference this year.

When asked about Jimmy Butler’s impending request for a max extension, Riley had this to say in his response: “TIt’s a big decision on our part to commit those kinds of resources, unless you’re someone who’s actually going to be there, available every night. It’s the truth.”

When asked if his view on the Heat’s core of Bam Adebayo, Butler and Tyler Herro changed after this season, Riley responded: “IIt’s a little difficult to really measure your list. I would love to have a nine or a 10 or whatever available. Give me 72 games, I’ll take 72 at different times.

When asked what he thought of Jaime Jaquez Jr.’s rookie season, Riley brought up the issue of player availability again, saying, “With Jaime, if he hadn’t injured his groin earlier in the season – because he plays – he would have played 82 games. He ended up playing 75 games. Believe me, he was suffering missing these games. But he’s a proud young warrior who will play for you every night.

Then, when asked to evaluate Herro’s fifth NBA season, Riley had this to begin his answer: “Well, he’s been a little shaky. He broke his hand last year in the playoffs and had a few injuries earlier in his career.

The Heat’s availability problem led to a new franchise record with 35 different starting lineups used this regular season. In the end, 18 different Heat players started at least one game this regular season.

The No Heat roster logged over 200 minutes together this regular season. By comparison, the team that eliminated the Heat in the first round of this year’s playoffs, the Boston Celtics, had two squads that played more than 300 minutes together this regular season.

Additionally, the Heat’s main trio of Adebayo, Butler and Herro have been limited to just 27 games together this regular season, with the team posting a 14-13 record in those games. This trio also hasn’t played a single playoff game together this year, with Butler missing the Heat’s entire first-round playoff series against the Celtics due to a sprained MCL in his right knee.

“Having discussions with the training staff, talking with weight coaches, strength training staff,” Riley said of how the Heat will go about addressing their recent injury issues. “A lot of players have their own sort of coaches and coaches and therapists off the field, all that. Who knows if something somewhere isn’t in conflict with what we’re doing here in our training room or in the weight room, or with nutrition, or with mental health or whatever. So those are the dives you need to do into these factors to see how well we can control this.

“I would never accuse a player who can’t play of not wanting to play or not being able to play. But 100 percent doesn’t exist in the NBA, it just doesn’t exist. So we would like to have a consistent rotation.

While Riley believes the Heat’s brand culture is still in place, he also made it clear that it’s not the same culture he established when joining the organization in 1995.

“Is this like it was 20 years ago? No, that’s not it,” Riley said. “It was good 20 years ago and the players accepted it and played 70, 80 games or whatever they did. It is not like that. The generational change in today’s contemporary players, the young players, doesn’t even know what it was 20 years ago. How they live their lives, how they train, what they consider important.

“You’re either in or out, you’re either with or against everything we’re talking about trying to do to win. If we can’t do this, then we need to change some things and come to different conclusions. But has (our culture) eroded? That’s something we’re going to talk about and where the erosion was. Where is he? This will be discussed.

Changes to the Heat roster will come. They come every offseason. The question is: how big will these changes be?

But Riley made it clear that other types of changes need to happen as well, because he won’t accept the same player availability issue that has doomed the Heat this season.

“We just want to try to control some of the things that we may have lost control of or a little bit of control over,” Riley said. “… We willIt’s not a very good group of guys and the No. 1 problem is player availability and your guys playing every night. From this point of view, we must accept this notion. So that’s where we are.