Riley won’t consider a job with Lakers
Team boss talked to Johnson, but not about L.A. shakeup
MIAMI — Insisting work remains with the Miami Heat, Pat Riley said Saturday there has been no contact with the Los Angeles Lakers regarding their muddled leadership situation.
Riley, 74, both a championship player and coach with the Lakers, said his only contact was a conversation with Magic Johnson after his former championship point guard stepped down Tuesday as Lakers president.
“I’m not going to comment on another team’s misfortune while they’re going through some adversity right now,” he said, with the Lakers on Friday parting ways with coach Luke Walton.
“There’s no doubt that I have a history with that team,” Riley said. “I was there for 20 years and I have a lot of friends still in the organization.
“I had a good conversation with Magic after he stepped down and I’m sure they’ll work it out.”
There had been speculation of Riley moving back to California for a role with the Lakers, speculation he addressed during his season-ending media session at AmericanAirlines Arena.
“I’m not going to be part of that. That’s not what I want to do,” he said. “No. I [don’t] want to become the consultant emeritus of doing nothing. Is there a job like that in the league?”
Riley stressed that ongoing priority is the turnaround from the Heat’s 39-43 finish this season, with plenty of work remaining at 601 Biscayne Boulevard.
“I’m in the middle of the third quarter of my life,” he said.
Having downplayed Dion Waiters’ conditioning at midseason, Riley was more candid Saturday, just as coach Erik Spoelstra called Friday for a significant offseason regimen.
“There is no doubt that Dion Waiters is a level away from his maximum potential,” Riley said. “And he really has been playing this year on 11⁄2 ankles. I’m not making that as an excuse. The surgery that he had was extensive. It wasn’t just to fix one part of his ankle. It was absolutely something more than that.”
Waiters returned at midseason from January 2018 surgery.
“From a conditioning standpoint, Spo and I are right on the same page,” Riley said. “Whatever number he comes back at, I think it’s going to be to his benefit and we’ll be able to see the explosiveness and he’ll be able to finish.
“He’ll get to the rim a little more.”
Riley said he had a candid conversion Friday with Waiters.
“He knows,” Riley said. “And so, he’s got five months. And if he ever gets to worldclass conditioning, then I think his performance will go to another level.”
Riley spoke mostly in generalities about the reduced minutes of center Hassan Whiteside, who averaged 17.3 in his final 19 games of the season, with Whiteside on the court together with emerging big man Bam Adebayo for only 14 total minutes this season.
“I know Erik and I know he’s going to look into every possibility,” Riley said, “because he does know that both those guys are both athletic, they’re both great rim protectors, they’re both great lob guys.
“Somehow he had to figure out how that can become an effective tandem somewhere. I can give him some help on it, because I have a background in coaching.”
As with Waiters, there also were concerns about the conditioning of forward James Johnson, who was returning from surgery last May for a sports hernia.
“It’s up to him, but he did everything we asked him to do,” Riley said. “The one thing that set him back was the stomach surgery. Again, that was something that was very hard for him to come back.
“He didn’t have that explosiveness and we hope to get that back.”