Sports Outside the Beltway

Pat Riley Takes Indefinite Leave of Absence from Heat

Pat Riley is stepping aside as coach of the Heat indefinitely, although he plans to be back in time for the stretch run.

Miami Heat coach Pat Riley will take an indefinite leave of absence because of ongoing hip and knee problems, and top assistant Ron Rothstein will fill his spot on an interim basis.

The 61-year-old Riley disclosed his plans Wednesday, two days before he’ll undergo surgery to remove floating chips in his right knee. He will not be with the team Wednesday night when it hosts the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I’m just tired of the pain and the medication,” said Riley, who said there is no timetable for when he would like to return.

But he insisted he plans to be back with the defending champions.

“I’m going to be displaced for a while, but not disconnected at all,” Riley said.

Riley, who also is the Heat president, is in his 12th season with the organization and 10th year as its coach. He resigned as coach shortly before the 2003-04 season, then returned to the bench in December 2005, replacing Stan Van Gundy and postponing right hip replacement surgery. In September, Riley said he didn’t expect to need the operation this season.

But his condition apparently worsened in recent weeks. He often walks with a limp and has been on medication for the hip.

“I’m tired of the grinding,” Riley said.

I heard the press conference while waiting around to hear the Nick Saban introduction at Alabama (since rescheduled for 11 ET tomorrow). Riley sounds like a broken man. I hope the surgery frees him from the pain.

Additional thoughts from Bill Jempty- Pat Riley either plans to come back or he’s a control freak. Stan Van Gundy, Riley’s predecessor as Heat coach, is essentially getting paid to do nothing. Van Gundy is a consultant, but never has his job been defined by anyone in the organization. Why not put Van Gundy back in control of the team rather than Rothstein?

Especially if one considers Rothstein’s coaching credentials. Miami was an expansion team when Rothstein coached it but then his short time in Detroit wasn’t impressive either.

Riley doesn’t like Van Gundy and probably sees him as a threat if Stan were able to get the underperforming Heat to play well. That’s my take on the situation.

Take all of what I say with a grain of salt. My interest in basketball is very limited other than the Heat.

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