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Heat news: Pat Riley believes Miami is ‘one step away from being a very good team’

Pat Riley

The Miami Heat survived what seemed to be a rebuilding season to forget, getting off to an 11-30 start to the season. But after working a connection between starters Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters, getting an infusion of energy from James Johnson, and standing tall behind big dipper Hassan Whiteside, the team was able to post a 30-11 mark in the latter half of the season, missing the playoffs only by a tie-breaker with the Chicago Bulls.

President Pat Riley has kept the team mostly intact, resigning the likes of Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Josh Richardson, and picking up a fourth-year option on Justise Winslow — hoping to cash-in on his investment. With all the pieces in place, the longtime executive believes this team is “one step away” being a very good team.

“What I’m excited about more than anything, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been this excited, is the competitiveness that we’re going to see in this training camp,” Riley said in a Friday morning press conference, according to Anthony Chiang of the Palm Beach Post. “Players, all of them, want to play. They want to start, they want minutes. That can be good and that can be bad. But it’s going to be fun to see it. Perimeters and bigs, it’s going to be fun to see the competitiveness.”

The Heat organization has always promoted open competition, despite the role that any player had on the team last season — firm believers in the fact that players have to earn their stripes every year.

“I think we’re way ahead of a rebuilding cycle and I think we’re one step away from being a very good team,” Riley said. “One step away could be the collective effort of an ensemble cast of very gifted players or one step away could be a move that could bring a player here. I do think we have the assets for that but I do think we have the inner strength of a team to take a step forward.”

Riley has been known to have an ace on his pocket at all times and according to how the season starts out, he’ll decide whether to fold his cards and look for a viable trade or go all-in and keep his team as is throughout the season.