Riley: Joining Lakers no longer an option

MIAMI -- Miami Heat president Pat Riley confirmed Wednesday
that he met with Los Angeles Lakers officials about their coaching
vacancy, but stressed that no contract offers or demands were made.

Riley, in a statement distributed by team officials, said a
meeting took place after Lakers owner Jerry Buss and general
manager Mitch Kupchak asked for and received permission from Heat
owner Micky Arison.

"During our discussion, which lasted a few hours, there was
never any demands made by me nor was there ever an offer presented
by them," Riley said in the statement. "It was simply a long
philosophical discussion about the situation."

Riley did not specify when the meeting took place. On Saturday,
he said through a Heat spokesman that he was seeking to extend his
contract as Miami's president and that reports linking him with the
Lakers' coaching search were merely "rumors."

Former Houston Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich has reportedly started talks with the Lakers. Tomjanovich, who resigned as Rockets coach a year ago to treat
bladder cancer, met with Kupchak and Buss for about two hours on Tuesday in Los Angeles.

The 55-year-old Tomjanovich is thought to be the front-runner to succeed Phil Jackson, who helped the franchise win three NBA titles in five seasons. The announcement that Jackson wouldn't return next season was made last Friday, just three days after the Lakers lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals.

The Lakers hope to hire a new coach within a month or less.
Kupchak says he plans to interview more than one candidate and
fewer than 10 in a process that could take several weeks.

"We are in the process of trying to narrow down the coaching
candidates and select a coach for this team," Kupchak told the
Houston Chronicle in Wednesday's online edition. "I would hope
this would happen sooner than later.

Riley, a winner of 1,110 games in 21 seasons, led the
"Showtime" Lakers of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to
titles in 1982, 1985, 1987 and 1988. He also coached the New York
Knicks (1991-95) and the Heat (1995-2003), resigning from the Miami
job four days before last season began.

"I have great respect for the Lakers, Dr. Buss and Mitch
Kupchak; they've built one of the premier franchises in the NBA,"
Riley's statement said. "For the past 34 years the Lakers have
been a big part of my life and I would like to thank them for the
opportunity to talk."

Riley called the meeting "a great trip down memory lane," and
said he and the Lakers "mutually decided to end our conversation
in regards to their situation."

"I am and will continue to be committed to building the Miami
Heat in hopes of one day winning an NBA championship," Riley said.