Heat’s Pat Riley unhappy with Jimmy Butler’s remarks on Celtics and Knicks, implies he needs to play more

Miami Heat president Pat Riley held his end-of-season press conference Monday, following the team’s elimination from the NBA playoffs last week.

After finishing eighth in the Eastern Conference and losing a first-round series to the Boston Celtics in five games, Riley told reporters he expects head coach Erik Spolestra to “take a deep dive into attack and defense. Payroll is also a major concern, with the Heat currently $10 million over the luxury tax threshold.

However, Riley significantly increased the temperature in the room when he directly and indirectly addressed Jimmy Butler’s role on the team.

Butler caused a sensation this weekend with remarks that the Celtics “would be at home” if he were available to play in the series. (Butler injured his knee in a play-in tournament loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.) And if he played with the Sixers instead of the Heat, they wouldn’t have lost to the New York Knicks. York in the first round:

Riley had no patience for Butler’s remarks when asked about it.

“For him to say that, I was like, ‘Is Jimmy trolling or is Jimmy serious?’ said Riley. “If you’re not on the court playing against Boston or the New York Knicks, you should keep your mouth shut and hold back your criticism of those teams.”

Yet this harsh rebuke may not have been based solely on Butler’s comments. During the press conference, Riley referred to the “availability” of Heat players.

“There are a lot of elements that go into a culture, the erosion of a culture, issues in the NBA that are league-wide in terms of health and players missing games, in terms of availability,” Riley said.

“Here we are eliminated in the first round again. There are things we have to look at,” he added. “Who shakes things up the most on our team (is) Jimmy. He’s an incredible player. What I said about the change is that he’s going to have to think about what we want truly let it be.”

Butler, who turns 35 in September, has played in 60 games this season for Miami. In his five seasons with the Heat, he played in an average of 58 games. With rumors that Butler wants a contract extension, Riley appears to be sending the message that his star needs to play more. And if he can’t play more, he shouldn’t talk about what could have happened.

The 13-year veteran signed for the 2024-25 season with a $52 million player option for 2025-26. Butler is reportedly seeking a two-year, $113 million maximum extension, according to the Miami Herald. The Heat have until June 30, 2025 to decide whether to make an offer.

But when Riley was asked if trading Butler was a possibility, he simply said “No”. So this could lead to an impasse over Butler wanting a contract extension versus the Heat preferring to wait at least a year and see if any changes are made.

Butler’s agent, Bernie Lee, disputed that Riley raised the availability issue with South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Ira Winderman.

“If you look at Jimmy’s entire career, I’m not really sure where that narrative comes from, in terms of constantly dissecting his availability. But if you look at his five years in Miami, the Miami Heat went to 61 playoff games , not counting the past playoffs he’s been injured for, Jimmy has only missed three due to injury. team in terms of minutes per game and total minutes.

The situation could gain clarity over the summer or before training camp if Butler pushes for a contract extension before the start of the 2024-25 season and becomes unhappy if the Heat are not receptive to one. new agreement.

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