Heat president and coach Pat Riley isn't ready to publicly commit to a return to the bench next season, but he believes one of his most productive players off that bench will be back for another year.
Riley said Friday that reserve center Alonzo Mourning will likely put off retirement and return for a 14th season in the league. Mourning, a seven-time All-Star and two-time NBA defensive player of the year, said after the season that he was not certain if he would play next season.
Mourning has a $2.7 million option to play next season, and his 2007-08 salary would become guaranteed Aug. 10. Riley, speaking with reporters at length for the first time since the Heat was eliminated in the playoffs, said Mourning would soon announce his plans.
''I have a good feeling about Alonzo, so I'm going to allow him to obviously make that decision,'' Riley said shortly after a Heat press conference at AmericanAirlines Arena to introduce first-round draft pick Daequan Cook. ``But I have a good feeling that he'll be back.''