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Heat figure to use title as selling point to lure free agents

MIAMI – Pat Riley’s approach to free agency has changed considerably since 2010 because the Miami Heat have nowhere near the same amount of money left to spend as they did in the coup that brought together LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Still, the sales pitch from the Heat president will remain the same.

“There’s a lot of room out there this year,” Riley said. “But there aren’t many teams that have a chance, really, to win a title. I think a lot of veteran players might be interested in something like that.”

So again, when free agency starts on Sunday, Riley and the Heat will ask prospective newcomers to make a sacrifice.

They also can show those recruits that their current formula works – with an NBA championship trophy as proof.

After draft night came and went without the Heat making any significant changes to their roster, Miami’s attention moves to free agency. Because the NBA’s shopping window hasn’t opened, Riley didn’t discuss any of his specific targets by name. But it widely is assumed that the Heat will try to woo Boston guard Ray Allen, who when healthy remains one of the game’s best outside shooters.

James, the league’s reigning Most Valuable Player of the regular season and NBA Finals, shared that terribly kept secret on his Twitter account Thursday.

“While watching the Draft my son Bryce ask ‘Is Ray Allen gonna play for the Heat,’ ” James tweeted. “I said ‘I don’t know. I hope so.’ ”

Riley said the Heat have “five or six guys” targeted to open the free-agent period.

“If we could add a shooter that would help us, because we are that kind of a team,” Riley said. “If we could get a real big that had to be guarded and had some versatility, then we might try to go in that direction. If there’s a 3-point shooter that’s long and can defend, then we might go in that direction. So there is a lot of areas you can go. There isn’t one specific thing. I just know that we want to find as much space as we can on the floor for Dwyane and for LeBron and for Chris to be able to operate.”

The Heat spent years making sure they would have the spending capability to land a trio such as James, Wade and Bosh in 2010. This summer, Riley and the Heat will go into free agency able to offer only the mini mid-level exception of $3 million, or a veteran’s minimum contract of about $1 million, or the ability to package future draft picks in trades. Moving players through trades is another option, though Riley said the Heat are “not exploring” that yet.

Riley said there have been no discussions about using Miami’s one-time amnesty provision this summer, on Mike Miller – who made seven 3-pointers in the title-clinching win over Oklahoma City – or anyone else. Riley also said Miller plans to take a couple of weeks to decompress before making any decisions about his future or surgical options. Miller met this week with Dr. Barth Green to evaluate his back, the primary source of his pain during the season.

Riley said the team will guarantee backup center Dexter Pittman’s contract for next season, meaning he will earn about $885,000. Eddy Curry might factor into the team’s plans again, with Riley saying he would have a conversation before too long with the veteran center who appeared sparingly in 14 games this season, none in the playoffs.

He also said that the strained lower abdominal muscle that sidelined Bosh for nine playoff games was more daunting than previously thought.

“He’s still nursing an injury,” Riley said. “He had a significant abdominal injury that I’m sure that if we weren’t in the playoffs against Boston then he probably would not have played for another three or four weeks.”

Wade removed himself from Olympic consideration Thursday, telling USA Basketball that he will need surgery on his left knee this summer. Bosh, who also played on the 2008 gold medal-winning team at the Beijing Olympics, took his name out of the Olympic mix Friday.

“If he doesn’t rest and do the rehab associated with the injury, this could become sort of a chronic thing for him,” said Henry Thomas, Bosh’s agent.

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