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shooting out of range

Guest marlins02

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Guest marlins02

Shooting out of range


Point guard Rafer Alston has played so well there's a chance he's driving his price up so high the Heat won't be able to afford him in the offseason.




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The Heat's intentions were admirable and the idea made sense: bring in an unproven point guard and hope he will blossom into a possible fixture with the team.


Now Rafer Alston might have gone and messed everything up.


Not by playing poorly. But by playing too well.


The reserve point guard has developed into a vital component in the Heat's system by playing tireless defense, pushing the ball effectively and becoming a reliable three-point shooter.


And he might be playing himself right out of the Heat's price range. Alston signed a one-year deal with the Heat during the summer and will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.


As it stands, the Heat will have salary-cap exceptions to use, one for approximately $5.1 million and the other for $1.6 million. The Heat has eyes on using the larger exception for a bigger name free agent, possibly one with size to fill a void in the middle.


That would leave the team with the option of re-signing Alston, at best, to a two-year, $3.5 million deal (starting at the $1.6 million exception and extending it one more year).


The way Alston is playing, and assuming he will continue to play at this level during the playoffs, the popular opinion is Alston will command more than that on the free agent market.


''Somebody's going to give him something legitimate because they know he's for real now,'' one Eastern Conference executive said.


But Alston will be free to go wherever he chooses, and two agents, neither with an affiliation to Alston, have compared his value to Troy Hudson, who signed a three-year deal worth more than $7 million with Minnesota before last season.


The Heat has lost and replaced reserve point guards several times in Heat president Pat Riley's tenure with the organization, and it's quite possible the team, unless it devises a plan to acquire salary cap space, will part ways with Alston as well.




But Heat players will testify there is something to be said for a player who is a proven fit.


''Skip's made everybody's lives a little easier,'' said Lamar Odom, a longtime friend of the point guard also known as ''Skip to My Lou.'' ``Skip coming in when you can leave Dwyane [Wade]at the [shooting guard], I think that puts a smile on Dwyane's face a little bit. So that helps our rotation and our chemistry a little bit. The way [Alston is] shooting the three, with me scoring most of my points in the paint, he's helping me with his three-point shooting. Guys like Caron [butler] and Udonis, who need the easy ones, Skip pushes the ball the best on the team, so he's getting them involved.''


Wade, who along with Odom will be the centerpiece in any of the Heat's building plans, also considers Alston a good match.


Said Wade: ``When he comes in the game, we're on the same page. I know where Skip is going to be and Skip knows me. He knows I'm going to be running, and he knows where I want the ball, so I think we play off each other well.''


But in the summer, business likely will come before familiarity, and Alston is aware of that. The point guard wants to sign a multiyear deal, but he is also conflicted because of his comfort level in Miami.


''I don't want to go with another one-year deal,'' said Alston, who is averaging 10.1 points, 4.5 assists and shooting 36 percent from three-point range. ``I've been getting one-year deals for the last three years of my career in this league. I'm also in a good situation. I hope I can come back here, because this is the perfect fit for me.


``Also, I'm a parent with two kids and they're getting to the point where they want to stay with their dad more. I'd rather them be in the Sunshine State than anywhere else. There are a lot of things you want to look at.''


And Alston's play might force the Heat to look at every possible option.





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Guest marlins02

lets not go overboard. lets remember how high everybody was on Anthony Carter during his '99-00 season where he started for most of the year although Rafer is a better shooter. im not saying thats going to happen this time but lets take our time with it and see what happens in the offseason.

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