Pat Riley Reveals Major Heat X-Factor For 2023-24 NBA Season

Pat Riley, Heat, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

There may not have been a team in the NBA that had as rough of an offseason as the Miami Heat. Coming off their second trip to the NBA Finals in four years, Miami was hoping to make a big splash in the offseason.

Just like in years past, the Heat were linked to major stars as a trade destination. They were most often linked to Damian Lillard over the summer, but never had substantial conversations with the Portland Trail Blazers, who seemed intent on not sending their franchise player to South Beach.

A byproduct of the Lillard rumors was the strained relationship with guard Tyler Herro, who admitted being included in talks didn’t make him feel good. Pat Riley said that he wasn’t someone the team wanted to trade, but everyone knows he would have been on the firs ticket out should the Heat have acquired Lillard.

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Pat Riley, Thomas Bryant, Miami Heat Updates

On top of the non-moves, the Heat also lost key contributors in free agency. Their starting backcourt from the postseason, Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, both departed, landing with the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

That is a lot of firepower for a team already lacking scoring options to lose. Replacing them won’t be easy, but it was the frontcourt that was their main focus this offseason. One of the players they signed to shore things up there was Thomas Bryant, whom Riley spoke very highly of in a recent press conference.

“We tried to address the one issue that I think had to be addressed,” Riley said of adding Bryant. “And we really like this player in Thomas Bryant that can give us more around the paint, at the rim, offense. If you go back and look at last year against Denver, we were beat in the paint. That’s it. We were killed in the paint.“

NBA NEWS & TRADE RUMORS: Pat Riley, Thomas Bryant, Miami Heat Updates

In his first action with the Heat, Bryant stuffed the stat sheet. He scored eight points with six rebounds, three assists and one steal in 16 minutes of play. Bryant is playing a key role for Miami this season as the backup to Bam Adebayo, a void in their lineup they haven’t been able to consistently fill.

With a diverse skill set, Bryant should thrive in that role. He can do a number of different things offensively, capable of handling some playmaking while also being a capable 3-point shooter. Defensively, he can use his length to protect the rim and make life difficult for opponents.

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