Miami Heat president Pat Riley asked players and fans Thursday to “get a grip” when it comes to impending free agency and the NBA Finals loss to San Antonio.
Heat superstars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their contracts this month and become free agents.
All three are dealing with defeat after the Heat lost to the Spurs in five games in the NBA Finals.
Riley’s message was likely aimed at James, who can select his own future as the NBA’s top star.
“We’ll find out what we’re made of,” Riley said. “It’s not about options, not about free agency. We have an opportunity to do something significant. But losing is a part of it. When you do you deal with it.”
He added: “Just get a grip, everybody, fans, players, media. That’s my message. I’ll do everything I can to retool the team but everybody needs to get a grip.”
The Heat became only the third team in NBA history to reach the final four years in a row, but came away with only two wins, James falling to 2-3 lifetime in NBA Finals after having lost his first while in Cleveland, also to the Spurs.
“It has happened to all of the great dynasties in this league,” Riley said.
“We won two of the last three and we’re going to go from there and we hope all of those guys are going to want to come with us.”
James appears to be the main figure whose future is uncertain, Bosh and Wade having indicated they are pleased with the situation in Miami.
“I have a level of optimism there isn’t a better place for players to be than Miami,” Riley said. “They invested heavily in this city. It’s how players grow in the community. They really are friends.”
And they all have the chance to leave, although the Heat could offer more money than any other club as an inducement to stay, James having already said he needed some time away to consider his possibilities.
“They have the right to pursue those options and think about that,” Riley said. “I don’t take anything from what LeBron had to say. He had to get away and he had to think about it.
Riley expressed confidence Dwyane Wade would return.
“He’s a world champion. He’s a Miami Heat for life. He’s an icon around the world,” Riley said. “I would be very surprised if he was anywhere else but in a Heat uniform next year.”