Pat Riley: Jimmy Butler extension to depend on availability


MIAMI — If Jimmy Butler wants to see more pay, Pat Riley will want to see more play.

And in simple terms, that is the entry point to this offseason for the Miami Heat.

Butler is almost certainly going to ask the Heat for a two-year extension this summer — it could guarantee him as much as $113 million for the 2025-26 and 2026-27 seasons — and Riley said Monday in his annual end-of-season remarks that he isn’t sure what the team will do when that moment arrives.

“We have not discussed that internally right now,” Riley said. “We have to look at making that kind of commitment and when do we do it. We don’t have to do it until 2025, actually. But we’ll see. We haven’t made a decision on it, and we haven’t really in earnest discussed it.”

There are a number of factors the Heat will consider — Butler’s playing time among them. He is, without question, an elite player whose time in Miami has been loaded with some signature performances, especially in the playoffs. But he turns 35 in September and has missed 100 regular-season games in his five Miami seasons, sitting out for injuries, rest or other reasons nearly 26% of the time.

He suffered a knee injury during the play-in tournament this season and missed Miami’s Round 1 playoff loss to Boston.

“That’s a big decision on our part to commit those kinds of resources unless you have somebody who’s going to be there and available every single night,” Riley said. “That’s the truth.”

Riley spoke for about 40 minutes, with many of his remarks surrounding Butler, and he lauded Miami’s highest-paid player multiple times — even saying he “moves the needle the most” and that he’s “an incredible player.” The Heat have 268 total wins in Butler’s five seasons, fifth most in the NBA over that span, and have made two NBA Finals appearances.

But he also didn’t shy away from doling out criticism. Butler, speaking this past weekend at a Formula 1 race in Miami Gardens, said “if I was playing, Boston would be at home, New York damn sure would … be at home.”

Riley didn’t seem to like that much. “I thought, ‘Is that Jimmy trolling or is that Jimmy serious?’ If you’re not on the court playing against Boston or on the court playing against the New York Knicks, you should keep your mouth shut on the criticism of those teams,” Riley said.

The player availability issue goes well beyond just Butler. Miami used a franchise-record 37 different starting lineups in 89 games this season, including the two play-in contests. It had 18 different players make at least one start, largely because the lineup of available players seemed to always be changing from one night to the next.

Tyler Herro missed 40 games in the regular season, while Butler missed 22. Injuries dogged Miami all season long and only two players — rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. (75) and captain Bam Adebayo (71) — made more than 70 appearances for the Heat in the regular season. Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said last week that the team will take “a deep dive” into the reasons why players miss so much time, and Riley echoed that sentiment Monday.

“We’ve got a really good group of guys and the No. 1 issue is player availability and having your guys healthy to play every night,” Riley said. “And we have to wrap our arms around that notion.”

Riley, 79, just completed his 29th season with the Heat, all of that as president and some of it as coach before giving that position up twice — once in 2003 to Stan Van Gundy before taking back over in 2005 when Van Gundy stepped down, then for good in 2008 when Spoelstra was promoted.

In those 29 Miami seasons, the Heat have the second-best regular-season winning percentage in the NBA (.569) behind only San Antonio (.628). Only the Spurs (175) and the Los Angeles Lakers (165) have more playoff wins in that span than Miami does (161).

The Riley record is basically beyond compare. In his 42 seasons as a head coach and/or executive, his teams — the Lakers, New York and Heat — have combined for 2,372 wins, including postseason. No single NBA franchise has more wins in those 42 seasons than Riley has accumulated during his stints with those three clubs.

He’ll tweak things. But he’s not changing his ways.

“Until you change the way you go about doing the things that are necessary to win, whatever they are, those things you’re doing to try to win, if they aren’t working, let’s change,” Riley said. “And so, that doesn’t mean that change is a sinister word here. … We have to change some things, but we surely are not going to rip anything apart here.”


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