MIAMI -- Pat Riley's search to bring young help to the Miami Heat is officially underway.
Riley, the Heat coach and president, was in State College, Pa., on Sunday, watching Indiana freshman guard Eric Gordon play against Penn State. Gordon scored 26 points, but the Hoosiers (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) lost to the Nittany Lions, 68-64 in overtime.
Riley is expected in Miami on Monday night when the Heat host the Los Angeles Clippers.
There seems to be a strong chance, however, that Riley will not coach the Heat when they face the New York Knicks on Wednesday and the Orlando Magic on Friday, because several conference tournaments will be going on in earnest during that time.
Riley hasn't said which of his assistant coaches will fill in if he does, in fact, miss any Heat games. Former Heat head coach and current top assistant Ron Rothstein filled in last season when Riley missed 22 games because of hip-replacement surgery, and Erik Spoelstra has long been considered someone that Riley is grooming for an eventual head-coaching position.
Riley revealed plans last week to miss some games to scout players who may be entering this year's NBA draft, an unusual move but one that the team obviously feels is important in its rebuilding plan.
Riley plans to evaluate talent at several major college tournaments, with the Big 12 postseason event -- featuring Kansas State fresman Michael Beasley, who is widely expected to be the No. 1 pick if he enters the draft -- among his most likely stops, and also may see some NCAA tournament games as well.
The Heat, with the worst record in the NBA at 11-50, have the best chance right now of winning the lottery and the No. 1 overall pick.
Riley did not fly back to South Florida with his team after Saturday night's losses in Atlanta. Miami was dealt two defeats; first, a 114-111 overtime decision in the game that began on Dec. 19 and had the final 51.9 seconds ordered to be replayed by the NBA after an official scoring error, followed by a 97-94 loss in the regularly scheduled matchup.