Wade: No rift with Riley
It's a classic case of the chicken and the egg.
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But Wade, who can opt out of his contract after this season and join the much-heralded 2010 free-agent class that could include LeBron James and Chris Bosh, says the Heat need to improve the team around him before he commits to a long-term deal.
Wade attempted to clear the air and clarify his position on Thursday at a charity golf tournament he is co-sponsoring with former teammate Alonzo Mourning. He stressed that he is not at odds with Riley and that the two men have the same goal -- continued improvement for the Heat, who rebounded from a dreadful 2007-08 season to make the playoffs.
But that doesn't mean Wade is backing down.
"Coach Riley opened up the wound when he said, 'Until Dwyane signs back, we can't do anything,' " Wade said Thursday, according to The Miami Herald. "But me and Pat Riley are not against each other. We both want the same thing. We're just in two different positions.''
Last month, Riley said the team's offseason priority was to re-sign Wade to a long-term deal, then address other needs for a team that was knocked out of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks.
''There can't be any major franchise changes made without his commitment,'' Riley said at the time. "He knows this. I'm going to do the best sales job I can. Whatever we do going forward is going to be predicated on that."
On Monday, Wade responded to Riley, saying merely making the playoffs wasn't enough for him and calling for roster moves to improve on last season's 43-39 finish. While other Eastern Conference teams have made major free-agent moves, the Heat have yet to make a splash in the market.
"I'm going to listen. I owe the Miami Heat that much. I'm going to listen to what they have to say and I'm going to think about it," Wade told The Associated Press. "But right now, the way I feel, I want to make sure that we're on track to where I want us to be on track to before I sign back."
On Thursday, Wade said his response to Riley's stance should not be seen as evidence of a rift between them.
"I had to answer [questions], and I answered them -- to say I just want to make sure we build a winning team here," Wade said, according to the Herald. "We both want this organization to build to win a championship now. He has to deal with the money side of it. I have to deal with the playing side. That's the difference.''
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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