Riley says he might miss Heat games to scout college players

Updated: March 6, 2008, 5:18 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- With the Miami Heat almost certainly headed to the NBA lottery, Pat Riley wants to see who might be available for the taking.

Riley said Thursday that "there's a possibility" he will "miss one or two" upcoming Heat games because he wants to travel to the various NCAA conference tournaments and start seeing players who'll potentially be in this year's draft.

"I'll be flying in and out," Riley said. "But I think right now, I've got to do that. I need to do that."

He will not be stepping down as coach, and did not reveal who will lead the team if, in fact, he does miss games.

Major conferences begin tournament play next week.

Riley carries the dual role of Heat coach and president, meaning he's in charge both of the team's on-court work today and its direction for the future.

The draft will undoubtedly play a big role in his plan for reshaping the Heat, who won the NBA title in 2006 but now need a drastic makeover after losing 29 of their past 32 games and falling to a league-worst 11-47.

"It's just one job," Riley said. "I happen to have two titles, but it's one job. ... The buck stopped with me when we won the championship and it stops with me right now when we've got the worst team in the league. I've got to try to rectify this and turn it around as quickly as possible."

That's where the scouting comes in. As of now, the Heat would have the best chance of obtaining the No. 1 pick in the lottery.

"Help is on the way," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.

Riley did not say which tournaments he plans to scout, although it's a certainty that he'll be paying considerable attention to the Big 12 -- since whomever winds up with the No. 1 overall pick will be widely expected to select Kansas State's Michael Beasley, assuming the highly touted freshman enters the draft.

"I think this is a pretty significant year," Riley said. "I see a lot of these guys on film. I want to see them in person once or twice. If I can do it without missing games, I'll do it."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press