Even though LeBron James has returned Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat President Pat Riley remains steadfast in keeping the franchise relevant and viable in a wide open Eastern Conference.
When LeBron James announced his departure from the Miami Heat last Friday and reaffirmed his commitment in returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers, it ran an initial shock with the Miami Mafia. Sure most Heat fans were extremely grateful for calling him "one of our own" for the past four seasons but that it doesn't nor shouldn't change the disappointment of not retaining his services.
Yet it's hard to believe that even after James departure, potentially it could've looked a whole lot worse for Miami. In fact possibly bleak. At least in the short term anyway.
The Houston Rockets had been nipping at the heels of Chris Bosh in the last week and even presented a Plan B with a four year max deal for sitting on the table in the event LeBron James did in fact do the inevitable. Obviously losing James is a huge blow to the franchise but to also lose Chris Bosh on top of that? Well let's just be completely honest here..that would've been a dagger straight to the heart. It would've possibly put another Miami Heat game plan into action and contending in the short term may not have been the likely option.
Yet here was Pat Riley, The Godfather, hours after being blind-sighted with 'The Departure' coming off the mat like the champion he is, and doing all in his power to lure Bosh from the temptation of competing on an already championship-contending ready Houston Rockets.
And he succeeded.
Sure, Miami might've overpaid at market value for the continued services for one-third of the Big 3, but while it might have been a look of desperation to some outside the Miami bubble, to Riley, continuity in some form was still the priority. And once again he succeeded.
And guess what. The Godfather isn't done yet.
As of Sunday afternoon, he's gotten a two-year commitment from All-Star forward Luol Deng to bring his talents to South Beach. Yes, Deng may not be the attraction in comparison to what the Miami Heat had been blessed with the last four seasons but with the pieces starting to formulate, the Miami Heat are turning into a team that can and will compete for a top 4 or 5 seed in a otherwise wide-open Eastern Conference.
Pat Riley's vision is clear as he stated in his press release following LeBron's departure:
Over the last 19 years, since Micky and I teamed together, The Miami HEAT has always been a championship organization; we've won multiple championships and competed for many others. Micky, Erik and I remain committed to doing whatever it takes to win and compete for championships for many years to come.
We've proven that we can do it and we'll do it again.
The front office has retained Mario Chalmers for two more years and are close to re-signing Chris "Birdman" Andersen who with their recent championship experience in Miami will be a factor in this transition into a post-LeBron world. Plus with the intentions of keeping both Heat lifers Dwyane Wadeand Udonis Haslem, all hope isn't lost in South Beach.
If people thought losing the best player in the world would make Pat Riley run in an corner sulking or even type up a Comic Sans reactive letter of disgust unlike a certain NBA owner, they were sadly mistaken. Miami looks like a team to be reckoned with in 2014-15.