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Riley believes Butler can lead Heat to title

Michael Reaves / Getty Images Sport / Getty

After his team fell in the first round of the playoffs to the Boston Celtics, Miami Heat president Pat Riley said Monday he still has faith Jimmy Butler can lead a championship contender.

"But it will take some changes," Riley said, according to The Ringer's Wes Goldberg.

He added: "(Butler) has to give it some thought himself for this to be what he wants it to be."

Butler was the key cog in the team's surprising run to the NBA Finals as a No. 8 seed last year. Miami then endured another middling regular season in 2023-24 before Butler hurt his knee in the play-in tournament, rendering him unavailable for the team's five-game Round 1 loss.

Butler's absence didn't stop him from talking trash and predicting a different outcome had he played, which Riley wasn't happy about.

"If you're not on the court playing against the Boston Celtics or against the New York Knicks, you should keep your mouth shut," said Riley.

The executive also expressed concern about Butler's health and availability. Butler hasn't played more than 64 contests in any of his five seasons with Miami.

However, Riley still called the 34-year-old the team's main driving force and an "incredible player," adding that he wouldn't consider trading him.

Butler has one guaranteed year left on his deal and has a player option in 2025-26. Riley said the team has yet to internally discuss a potential extension.

Butler was effective when in the lineup this year. He averaged 20.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and five assists per game while shooting a career-best 41.4% from beyond the arc.

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