Ri­ley won’t con­sider a job with Lak­ers

Team boss talked to John­son, but not about L.A. shakeup

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Sports - By Ira Win­der­man iwin­der­[email protected] sun­sen­tinel.com. Fol­low him at twit­ter.com/ira­heat­beat or face­book.com/ ira.win­der­man

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.

Wait­ers’ weight

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.”

White­side’s min­utes

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.”

John­son, too

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.”

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