Posted Jan 22 2009 8:30PM
MIAMI (AP) -- With Alonzo Mourning retiring, Miami Heat president Pat Riley will have to look for help at center elsewhere.
In Toronto, perhaps.
Discussing the state of the Heat on Thursday, Riley did nothing to quash speculation he wants to trade power forward Shawn Marion to the Raptors for center Jermaine O'Neal.
Riley said he has talked with Marion about the situation.
"I value Shawn Marion immensely," Riley said. "He is a tremendous player. I'm sorry this is going on right now, but that's the NBA business."
As for reports the Heat requested medical information on O'Neal and the Raptors requested medical information on Marion, Riley said: "I could have made the same request to five other teams also. That's just the normal process."
Riley's comments came after Mourning's news conference to announce he's calling it quits rather than returning from a serious leg injury in December 2007. Mourning backed up Shaquille O'Neal when the Heat won the NBA title in 2006, but now Miami is thin at center with a backlog at power forward.
"This team is like 70 percent of the teams in the NBA that play small," Riley said. "There's a whole new philosophy in the NBA, and that is getting into a game that is fast and versatile. It has almost morphed itself into a 6-foot-5-and-under league.
"I don't believe in that game in the long run. I don't think that game is going to win you a title."
O'Neal's contract expires in 2010, while Marion is in the final year of his deal. Injuries could complicate any trade: Marion missed practice Thursday with a sore groin, and he's questionable for Saturday's game against Orlando, while O'Neal has been slowed by a troublesome knee.
Riley said any trade would keep the current team competitive, but he also said, "The big picture always trumps the present moment. ... We need to upgrade this team, but you're not going to do it overnight."
With Riley giving up coaching duties, Miami has rebounded from a 15-win season a year ago and is in playoff contention at 22-19 under new coach Erik Spoelstra.
"The team's competitive, they're entertaining, they're well-coached," Riley said. "They have a shot, and I think that is what has endeared them to the fans here again. It has re-energized our program."
Riley said the Heat "have the best player in the world in Dwyane Wade." With the Feb. 19 trade deadline nearly a month away, Wade shrugged off talk of a deal.
"No one is coming in today to save the day," Wade said. "This is my team. I have to continue to lead this team. I'm not worried about who's not here. I'm worried about who's here."
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