Pat Riley reprimands Jimmy Butler for his ‘trolling’ comments, but says Heat won’t trade star

Miami Heat president Pat Riley said the organization will not trade Jimmy Butler this offseason amid rumblings of potential discontent between the franchise and its star player over a potential contract extension this summer.

However, Riley did not hint at points of friction between the two parties.

Butler did not play in the Heat’s first-round series loss to the Celtics due to an MCL injury he suffered during the Play-In Tournament. But he recorded a video saying the Heat would have beaten the Celtics if he had been healthy and would have beaten the Knicks if he had matched up.

This didn’t sit well with Riley.

“For him to say that, I thought: ‘Is this Jimmy a troll or is Jimmy serious?'” Riley said. “If you’re not on the court playing against Boston, if you’re not on the court playing against the New York Knicks, you should keep your mouth shut in your criticism of those teams.”

Butler has two years remaining on his current contract, though he has a player option for roughly $52 million for the 2025-26 season. The Heat could offer Butler, 34, a new contract this summer to keep him in Miami after that, but Riley told reporters in Miami that the front office has not discussed that possibility internally yet, and no decision has been made at this point.

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However, Reilly insisted Butler would not be dumped.

“No,” Riley said when asked directly about trading for him.

In Butler’s five seasons in Miami, the Heat made two NBA Finals appearances while reaching the Eastern Conference Finals for the third time. Riley still treasures his star.

But Butler also had trouble staying healthy and participating during the regular season. Butler has yet to play more than 64 regular-season games during his five seasons with the Heat. He played 60 this season. His nickname “Playoff Jimmy” was a double-edged sword, indicating how seriously he took the playoffs — not the regular season.

Riley said Butler’s durability will influence the Heat’s decision on an extension.

“Whoever moves the needle the most on our team is Jimmy,” Riley said. “Jimmy moves the needle more than most. He’s an unbelievable player. What I said at the beginning about the change is that he has to think for himself about this team being what he wants it to be, what I want it to be, and (owner) Micky (Arison) and everyone else.” “We’ve had a lot of success in that five-year period and we haven’t won the chip and I think that upsets everyone.”

The importance of Reilly’s words

Pat Riley’s comments about Jimmy Butler on Monday provided a surprising amount of transparency on two fronts. First, the Heat have no desire to trade Butler, although a difficult contract could be negotiated in the near future.

However, while Riley expressed his commitment to keeping Butler, he made it clear he wants to see some changes from Butler on and off the field. In particular, Riley saying that Butler should “keep his mouth shut” is the kind of public response Miami rarely gave its star during his time in Miami. Butler is known for his sometimes boisterous personality, and his former teams largely accepted that when he was the successful face of their franchise. But historically, as a team’s success begins to wane, teams’ patience also begins to struggle with some of Butler’s idiosyncrasies.

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One big issue is the number of games Butler and his teammates have missed the past two seasons. It’s a point Riley repeated on several occasions during his news conference on Monday.

“We have a really good group of players, and the No. 1 issue for us is availability and getting players to play every night,” he said.

At this point, Butler has a big decision to make: How will he react if contract extension talks don’t go his way this summer? This could be the biggest domino determining the direction of the heat for the next few seasons. – Will Guillory, Heat and Pelicans reporter

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(Top photo: Jose A. Iglesias/El Nuevo Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

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