Hyde: Does Pat Riley have one more great song in him with Heat? | Commentary

No star to grow. No money to spend. No trade to make. No lottery pick to invest. No way in the Anthony Davis Sweepstakes. No way out of bad contracts to Hassan Whiteside, Dion Waiters and James Johnson unless, like dumping Tyler Johnson, a bad one comes in return.

No player more than a step above average on the roster.

No great surprise they’re ninth in the Eastern Conference.

No wonder, then, Heat President Pat Riley says he’s not going anywhere until he wins big again. That’s how you want it to end for him, right? That’s how any self-respecting Heat fan who rides-and-dies with Riley, who has enjoyed his great years with South Florida’s model franchise, should want it, too.

Not when he entered in 1995 and had the ability to grab Alonzo Mourning and rehabilitate Tim Hardaway. Not when the roster looked stale in early 2000s and he refashioned it with the youthful talent of Dwyane Wade, Caron Butler and Lamar Odom. Not when he swung big with them to trade for Shaquille O’Neal. Not when he had a middling team in 2009 and assembled The Big Three.

Riley is up against more than a series of bad contracts that put the Heat in limbo through 2020. He’s up against a rebuilding Eastern Conference, too. It’s not just how Milwaukee and Toronto became formidable this year and have a chance to stay that way. It’s not just the talent on Boston and the roster of Philadelphia.

Suddenly, even a clown franchise like the New York Knicks has done enough to have an opportunistic leg up on the Heat, as far as having the chips to build a contender. And that’s not even touching what’s going on the mighty West.

The Heat remains a preferred destination spot in the NBA. But they’re so boxed in with bad contracts now they can’t even think of free agency until after next season. Riley’s advantages of a blue-chip franchise and South Florida’s sun are on hold until then. And where is a whale on the roster to help recruit another whale here?