And unless the Heat hit the reset button and go into full rebuild mode next season, they'll never see that first-round pick. This is the textbook definition of a precarious position for Miami. Riley, who had been operating on a year-to-year basis even before LeBron arrived four years ago, was ideally hoping to lock up this team for the next few seasons and then head to his remodeled, Southern California home to retire.
Now, he's got a mess to fix. And it's in times like these when Riley should probably take a dose of his own postseason diatribe about having the guts to not walk out the door at the first sign of adversity.
Depending on Wade's future with the team, the Heat still have significant cap space and spent part of Friday reconnecting with previous free-agent targets such as Luol Deng, Trevor Ariza and Pau Gasol. Restricted free agent big man Greg Monroe is expected to be added to that mix.
Why? Because Riley doesn't do tanking or ground-up rebuilds.
He has neither the time nor the patience. And he also essentially has a couple of I.O.U.s unsettled with Wade, who bypassed two years and $41 million on his contract to give Riley some free-agency flexibility. Haslem also opted out of $4.6 million to do the same.
Unless Wade, 32, wants to walk away from Miami and the three titles he's won over 11 seasons there, the Heat are almost obligated to assemble a team that remains in playoff contention in the East. The only question now is how much money Wade is willing to take and how long the Heat can afford to have him eat up a significant portion of the salary cap, because a franchise makeover can be delayed for only so long.
There's still a bitter taste from the last time the Heat dove to rock bottom before ascending to the lofty, LeBron-led heights of the past four years. Riley's last season as coach was a disastrous 15-67 campaign in which he walked away at one point to start scouting for the draft.
A bad bounce of the ping-pong balls then sent the No. 1 pick to Chicago, which drafted Derrick Rose. The Heat ended up with the No. 2 pick and Michael Beasley.
The rest is history for the Heat.
Now, so is LeBron.
The greatest player in the game delivered on his promise to win championships in Miami. But dynasties in the NBA these days are a lot like marriages. They simply don't last as long as they used to.
Riley and the Heat should have no regrets. It was great while it lasted.
Now, it's time to regroup.