May 21, 2024

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

Miami Heat president Pat Riley mentioned the group won’t trade Jimmy Butler this offseason amid rumblings of potential discontent between the franchise and its star participant over a potential contract extension this summer season.

Still, Riley did trace at factors of friction between the 2 events.

Butler didn’t play within the Heat’s first-round sequence loss to the Celtics because of an MCL injury suffered during the Play-In tournament. But he recorded a video saying the Heat would have overwhelmed the Celtics if he had been wholesome and would have taken down the Knicks had they matched up.

That didn’t sit nicely with Riley.

“For him to say that, I thought, ‘Is that Jimmy trolling or is that Jimmy serious?’” Riley mentioned. “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 those teams.”

Butler has two years left on his present contract, although he has a participant possibility for roughly $52 million for the 2025-26 season. The Heat can supply Butler, 34, a brand new contract this summer season to maintain him in Miami past that, but Riley advised reporters in Miami that the entrance workplace has not mentioned that prospect internally but, nor that any resolution has been made so far.

Still, Riley was adamant that Butler won’t be dealt away.

“No,” Riley mentioned when requested instantly about buying and selling him.

In Butler’s 5 seasons in Miami, the Heat have made two NBA Finals appearances whereas reaching the Eastern Conference finals a 3rd time. Riley stays appreciative of his star.

But Butler has additionally had hassle staying wholesome and engaged throughout the common season. Butler has but to play greater than 64 video games in an everyday season throughout his 5 seasons with the Heat. He performed in 60 this season. His “Playoff Jimmy” nickname has been a double-edged sword, indicating how significantly he takes the playoffs — and never the common season.

Butler’s sturdiness, Riley mentioned, will weigh into the Heat’s resolution on an extension.

“Who moves the needle the most on our team is Jimmy,” Riley mentioned. “Jimmy moves the needle the most. He’s an incredible player. What I said at the beginning about change is he’s got to give it some thought himself for this team to be what he wants it to be, and what I want it to be, and (owner) Micky (Arison) and everybody else. This five-year window, we’ve been pretty successful. We haven’t won the chip and I think that bothers everybody.”

The significance of Riley’s phrases

Pat Riley’s feedback about Jimmy Butler on Monday supplied a shocking quantity of transparency on two fronts. First, the Heat don’t have any need to trade Butler, regardless of the opportunity of a difficult contract negotiation within the close to future.

Yet whereas Riley did categorical a dedication to conserving Butler round, he made it clear he needed to see some adjustments from Butler on and off the court docket. In specific, Riley saying Butler ought to “keep his mouth shut” is the form of public pushback Miami has not often given to their star throughout his time in Miami. Butler is thought for having a boisterous persona at instances, and his previous groups have largely accepted it when he has been a profitable face of their franchise. But traditionally, as crew success begins to put on off, so does groups’ endurance for a few of Butler’s idiosyncrasies.

One huge subject is the quantity of video games Butler and his teammates have missed the previous two seasons. It’s a degree Riley repeated on a number of events throughout his information convention on Monday.

“We got a really good group of guys, and our No. 1 issue is player availability and having your guys playing every night,” he mentioned.

At this level, Butler has one huge resolution forward of him: How will he react if contract extension talks don’t go the best way he desires them to this summer season? That stands out as the greatest domino that determines the Heat’s course these subsequent few seasons. — Will Guillory, Heat and Pelicans reporter

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