Heat's Pat Riley has new approach to NBA free agency, no longer looking for a 'whale'

If there's one NBA executive who knows how to make a splash by acquiring big-name free agents, it's Pat Riley. The Heat president was at the helm of one of the biggest coups in NBA history when he brought in LeBron James and Chris Bosh to play with Dwyane Wade in 2010.

But don't expect Riley to go after big free agents this summer, at least judging by what he said to the media on Wednesday. Riley, who said last summer that he wanted to land a "whale" in free agency (presumably Kevin Durant), has apparently changed his tune, according to Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald:

"I regret ever making that statement," Riley said. "The collective bargaining agreement is going to dictate a lot of things about free agency. ... Today it's a lot different than [2010]. Any great player will have to give great pause to walk away from $65 million to $70 million to walk away. ...

"We are going to focus on our guys, really focus on this group of guys. We have found something about three of these guys, I felt they had something but never really had the platform. We will always observe what's going on in free agency. We have that flexibility. When you have a draft pick and a lot of players on your team you like, you are in good position to move forward."

If you think that means Riley will be quiet this offseason, not so fast. He mentioned that even if the Heat aren't active in free agency, getting players through trades is still a possibility.

"I want to play for that [championship]," he said. "That's what we want to compete for. That's what it has always been about. You don't have have to go whale hunting. You can acquire key players via trade, instead of laying out $38 million for a guy. Some of these max numbers are ridiculous. That's the nature of the collective bargaining agreement."

Riley is no slouch when it comes to pulling off blockbuster trades, his most famous of which was probably acquiring Shaquille O'Neal from the Lakers in 2004. O'Neal and Wade led the Heat to their first title in 2006.

The Heat have six free agents this offseason, including James Johnson and Dion Waiters, both of whom were key pieces for a Miami team that shook off an 11-30 start to come within one game of a playoff berth.

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