Pat Riley rebukes Jimmy Butler for ‘trolling’ comments, but says Heat won’t trade star

Miami Heat president Pat Riley said the organization will not trade Jimmy Butler this offseason, amid rumors of possible discontent between the franchise and its star player over a possible contract extension this summer.

Riley nonetheless hinted at points of friction between the two sides.

Butler did not play in the Heat’s first-round loss to the Celtics due to an MCL injury suffered during the Play-In tournament. But he recorded a video saying the Heat would have beaten the Celtics if he had been healthy and would have beaten the Knicks if they had played each other.

This didn’t sit well with Riley.

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

Butler has two years remaining on his current contract, although he has a player option worth approximately $52 million for the 2025-26 season. The Heat may offer Butler, 34, a new contract this summer to keep him in Miami beyond that, but Riley told reporters in Miami that the front office has not yet discussed that prospect internally, nor that No decision had been made at this stage.

Still, Riley was adamant that Butler would not be eliminated.

“No,” Riley said when asked directly about his trade.

During Butler’s five seasons in Miami, the Heat made two NBA Finals appearances while reaching the Eastern Conference Finals a third time. Riley continues to appreciate his star.

But Butler also struggled to stay healthy and engaged during the regular season. Butler has yet to play more than 64 regular season games in his five seasons with the Heat. He played 60 this season. His nickname “Playoff Jimmy” is a double-edged sword, indicating how seriously he takes the playoffs – not the regular season.

Butler’s durability, Riley said, will weigh on the Heat’s decision on an extension.

“Who shakes things up the most on our team is Jimmy,” Riley said. “It’s Jimmy who moves the needle the most. He’s an incredible player. What I said at the beginning about the change is that he has to think about it himself to make this team what he wants it to be, and what I want it to be, as well as (the owner) Micky (Arison) and everyone. During this five-year period, we have done quite well. We didn’t win the chip and I think that bothers everyone.

The meaning of Riley’s words

Pat Riley’s comments about Jimmy Butler on Monday provided a surprising amount of transparency on two fronts. First, the Heat have no desire to trade Butler, despite the possibility of a tricky contract negotiation in the near future.

Yet even though Riley has expressed his commitment to keeping Butler, he has made it clear that he wants to see changes from Butler on and off the court. In particular, Riley saying Butler should “keep his mouth shut” is the kind of public reaction Miami rarely gave its star during his time in Miami. Butler is known for having a loud personality at times, and his past teams largely accepted him when he was a successful face of their franchise. But historically, as the team’s success begins to fade, so does teams’ patience with some of Butler’s idiosyncrasies.

A big problem is the number of games Butler and his teammates have missed over the past two seasons. It’s a point Riley made repeatedly during his press conference on Monday.

“We have a really good group of guys, and our number one issue is player availability and having your guys play every night,” he said.

At this point, Butler has a big decision in front of him: How will he react if contract extension negotiations don’t go the way he wants this summer? This may be the biggest domino that will determine the direction of the Heat over the next few seasons. —Will Guillory, Heat and Pelicans reporter

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(Top photo: Jose A. Iglesias / El Nuevo Herald / Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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