Pat Riley’s cryptic comments on Miami Heat offseason could hint at Jimmy Butler trade

There was no Cinderella run through the NBA Playoffs for the Miami Heat this year. After making it all the way to the NBA Finals as a No. 8 seed last season, Miami got plastered by the Boston Celtics as the No. 8 seed this time around. The Heat only won one game in the series, and truly never had a chance with Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier both out with injuries.

The Heat have been a middling team in the Eastern Conference over the last five years, but somehow have two unlikely appearances in the NBA Finals to show for it. Lead executive Pat Riley isn’t satisfied. Riley met the media for the Heat’s end-of-season press conference on Monday, and took several shots at Butler after he failed to stay healthy and productive this season.

Butler was captured on social media saying the Heat would have beat the Celtics and Knicks in the 2024 NBA Playoffs if he was healthy. That comment didn’t sit right with Riley when the Heat are the team that’s currently at home. Riley said Butler should keep his “mouth shut” after being unable to play in the playoffs this year.

Butler appeared in 60 games for the Heat this season, which is actually the second-most he’s played in a season since 2018-2019. At the same time, Butler just wasn’t an impactful as he usually is. The star wing turns 35 years old before next season, and seemed to be saving his top level of play for the playoffs all year. That made sense in theory, at least until an MCL injury knocked him out of the playoffs before they began.

There have been vague Butler trade rumors floating around since Miami was eliminated. Butler is up for an extension this offseason, and the Heat might be hesitant to give it to him after his lack of durability recently. Riley essentially said as much on Monday:

ESPN’s Zach Lowe said the Heat could be in for an ‘explosive’ offseason in a recent podcast, and mentioned a Butler trade as something that shouldn’t be ruled out. Butler has $48.7 million guaranteed on his contract for next season, and then has a $52.4 million player option in 2025-26.

Riley didn’t dance around the fact that players needed to be on the court if they want to be part of the Heat’s long-term vision.

Butler wasn’t the only Miami player who got a message from Riley. He also called Tyler Herro “fragile” while praising his work ethic.

The Heat played with fire by being a barely above-average team in the Eastern Conference this season, and this time they got burned. Miami’s run the 2023 NBA Finals was inspiring and captivating, but it always felt a little bit like a fluke. With several key rotations from that team now elsewhere — Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, in particular — the Heat weren’t able to recapture the same magic in the playoffs this year.

Riley sounds fed up. The 79-year-old wants another championship, and he wants it now. He knows it’s only going to happen if his best players are on the court.

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