Published February 18, 2010
A flurry of last-minute deals around the league meant stiffer competition in this summer's free-agent sweepstakes, but Heat president Pat Riley remained confident his team can make a big upgrade while keeping Dwyane Wade.
The Heat pushed hard for Stoudemire, who was on the trading block because he can opt out of his contract after this season. But the All-Star power forward stayed with Phoenix.
"We did attack the opportunity of going after who we considered was the most talented player that was out there," Riley said. "In the very end, it didn't work out."
The package the Heat offered was limited because they wanted to keep Beasley, the inconsistent but talented second-year pro who was the overall No. 2 draft pick in 2008.
"We took him off the board," Riley said. "We feel like Michael is going to be a core component in this team for years to come. He just has too much of an upside. You see how he's growing every day. I see him down the road two or three years from now as a 25 and 10 guy every single night."
Riley said the Heat turned down the chance to acquire a first-round draft pick for a player because they want to win this season, even though the team is only 28-27.
"We're a playoff team," Riley said. "We can be very competitive. This team might be a better playoff team than it is during the regular season if everybody's healthy."
That's not the case now. All-Star Game MVP Wade is day to day with a strained left calf after leaving the Heat's win against the New Jersey Nets on Wednesday night in the first quarter.
There was no swelling but tenderness in his calf Thursday, and there are fears he might miss several games. Wade remained with the Heat, who play Friday night in Memphis.
"We hope it's something he'll get over with quickly," Riley said.
Deals this week left the Knicks, Bulls, Clippers and Wizards in more competitive bidding positions this summer, giving Wade more options in free agency. The Heat have salary-cap room for a maximum-level free agent, and they can pay Wade more than any other team.
"We feel very strongly that Dwyane Wade is going to be back with the Heat," Riley said. "We feel very comfortable that Dwyane feels very comfortable in a city that has embraced him and that he likes."
A blockbuster free agent class could also include Stoudemire, LeBron James and Chris Bosh.
"There's a lot at stake for a lot of teams," Riley said. "I'm going to be approaching this with a lot of excitement, not anxiety, in the hopes we're going to be able to build a team that I'm going to be proud of and the city is going to be proud of. We have that opportunity to do it."