Dwyane Wade and Chris Brosh

Following LeBron James’ departure from Miami, Heat president Pat Riley insists that his franchise has recovered … but does admit their star leaving is still a difficult blow to accept.

“I went into it with the notion he was coming back, so I was selling that to players. I let him know that. He never said, ‘Don’t do that,’ ” Riley told reporters Wednesday (July 30), according to ESPN.com.

He continued, saying that he expected James to return to Miami after he, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade all opted out of the final two years of their contracts to enter free agency. However, he added that he never felt he was misled by James during the free-agency process. In fact, he says he sent several emails and text messages directly to James during the process that weren’t returned.

“I don’t think I was misled,” Riley said. “I don’t think I was encouraged, either.”

During a 40-minute conference call, he says he’s confident the Heat will remain a top competitor in the East without James leading the way.

“No doubt we lost a great player,” Riley said. “I don’t get hurt. … The hurt didn’t last long. We picked up the phone and went to work. Sometimes, things happen that you don’t like, but you have to move on. I feel really good about where we are right now at this moment. I feel we are up to the challenge and will be as competitive as anyone in the Eastern Conference.”