For the first time since LeBron James announced that he was returning to Cleveland to play for the Cavaliers again, Miami Heat president Pat Riley spoke to reporters yesterday afternoon. And while he mentioned that he's already moved on from the initial shock of losing LeBron—"The hurt didn't last long," he said. "We picked up the phone and went to work"—he also said that he did not expect LeBron to leave Miami. In fact, he specifically told LeBron that he was meeting with free agents and selling them on the idea of coming to Miami to play with him, and he says that LeBron didn't tell him not to do that.
"I went into [free agency] with the notion he was coming back," Riley said, "so I was selling that to players. I let him know that. He never said, 'Don't do that.'"
Despite that miscommunication, though, Riley said he wasn't all that disappointed to hear that LeBron was moving on.
"Sometimes, things happen that you don't like," he said, "but you have to move on."
And that's exactly what Riley has done. Once LeBron left, he started piecing the Heat team back together—and he thinks they've got the talent in place to make some noise next season.
"I feel really good about where we are right now at this moment," he said. "I feel we are up to the challenge and will be as competitive as anyone in the Eastern Conference."
For those wondering, the Cavaliers and the Heat play for the first time next season in a preseason game on October 11 in Brazil. Mark it on your calendars now.